Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Rebecca Blakely's Senior Art Thesis  

Nicole  Krauss

Rebecca  Blakely 

Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim's Relationship

Nicole Krauss: A Journey for Reconnection

Nicole Krauss utilizes the power of story to depict the common struggle amongst all of her characters: their disconnection from society. All of the characters have faced losses, whether it be of loved ones or significant tokens, but what they all struggle to realize is that their biggest loss in life is their diminished sense of self. Even at the most pivotal moments in each of the protagonists’ journeys, they are reluctant to make changes to the circumstances that spark their loneliness and separation from society. Through the individual losses they face, they struggle to realize that their biggest loss in life is the experiences that they lack with other people. As Krauss’ characters each undergo their own traumas, the multiple narratives that she uses emphasize the shared experience of disconnection, and the universal desire to reconnect, particularly within the Jewish diaspora. At some point, all of Krauss’ protagonists feel alienated within their surroundings, a feeling only overcome by some form of pilgrimage.

Similar to Nicole Krauss’ protagonist’s feelings of disconnection and isolation from society, Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim faced a plethora of gossip and judgement from British society. Abdul Karim worked closely with the Queen in her daily life as both her teacher and close confidant. As her fondness for him grew, she actively fought harmful rumors and stereotypes concerning Karim. Queen Victoria was very interested in the customs of other cultures, especially Indian culture, and showed tremendous interest in Karim’s knowledge and experience of Indian food and traditions, which in turn triggered controversial and discriminatory feelings towards him. The hatred directed at Karim, present in both the royal household and the public eye, highlighted the presence of xenophobia during Queen Victoria’s reign in the British Raj period. Two of her former friendships with John Brown and Lord Melbourne held a very similar intimacy yet lacked the same amount and magnitude of criticism that Abdul Karim received. The many intimate relationships that Queen Victoria initiated with her servants, specifically Abdul Karim, created a source for much criticism towards herself, and the men involved. Major Works Consulted:

Basu, Shrabani. Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant. Stroud, Gloucestershire: History Publishing Group, 2010.
Krauss, Nicole. Great House. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010
---. The History of Love. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Thompson, Dorothy. Queen Victoria: the Woman, the Monarchy, and the People. New York: Pantheon, 1990.
Photo Credit: Krauss, Nicole. Great House. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010


 Link to Rebecca Blakely's Senior Art Thesis