Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Zadie  Smith

Casey  Ellms 

Queen Elizabeth IIís Devotion to the Commonwealth of Nations

The Negative Effects of Societal Expectation in the Works of Zadie Smith

Queen Elizabeth IIís life as a child was private, but she gained more knowledge about the British Empire and the monarchy as she grew. She became queen after the death of her father in 1952, just as the Commonwealth of Nations started to develop. Elizabeth and other royals visited the member countries, linking them together by broadcasting important events from around the world during the visitations. Despite challenges from prime ministers, people of the Commonwealth, and her private life, Queen Elizabeth was able to show during and after her visits that she was respectful of each of the Commonwealth cultures. As a mature leader, she met with various heads of the Commonwealth states and offered her opinion on issues. She gave the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations something to believe in. She represented security for the people she visited and served as a symbol of community and the traditions of Magna Carta. Even when the world started to change, she changed with it by adopting the new technology of the time and visiting the diverse Commonwealth nations more often.

Critically acclaimed British author Zadie Smithís three novels, White Teeth, NW, and On Beauty, all feature protagonists struggling to find their place within society. The men and women of Smithís novels conform to the sexual, economic, and racial norms of society, but this choice ultimately destroys their identities and their relationships with others, resulting in guilt about what they have done. Howard Belsey of On Beauty attempts to fit in to his youth-centered culture by having an affair with his co-worker in the hopes of feeling the excitement of a young man, although his infidelity only results in the breakdown of his family. All of Howardís confusion about who he is leads to immature, self-centered actions. In this way, Smithís characters stray from their moral codes, causing guilt and regret, all in pursuit of conforming to societal standards for appearance and behavior.

Major Works Consulted:

Shawcross, William. Queen and Country: The Fifty-Year Reign of Elizabeth II. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Smith, Sally Bedell. Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of A Modern Monarch. New York: Random, 2012.
Smith, Zadie. On Beauty. New York: Penguin Group, 2005.
--. White Teeth. New York: Random, 2000.
Photo Credit: Smith, Zadie. White Teeth. New York: Random, 2000.