Has Literature witnessed Laws and Trials which were biased?

History has experienced different discriminations and oppressions based on class, creed, sex and religion. Therefore, no doubt these discriminations has influenced Laws and trials. Literature throws light on these discriminations. In Literature, we see instances of various laws and trials which were biased.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

We see an influence of Religion in the Court scene of “Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare. In the Court, the Christian characters were referred by their names while the Jew character, Shylock was referred to by his religion. This actually goes against the Atrocities Act which does not allow calling people by their caste as it is considered derogatory. The Duke Calls Antonio as a “poor Merchant” while he calls Shylock “an inhumane Wretch”. Difference in which the Jew and Christian characters are referred to is evident.
We see that the Duke has not even looked at the bond but he is trying to convince Shylock to show mercy to Antonio. He is reacting on the basis of what other people had told him. H himself has not looked at the Contract. The question here is that Shylock wants something with adherence to Law so, why isn’t he responding in Legal terms? Here, Mercy is considered Primary and Law secondary. We see that the Duke, who is a person supposedly learned in Law, talking in terms of Religious Doctrine. Shylock alone wants Law; others are interested in fairness.
We see that the Clerk refers to Shylock by his religion even before the trial has begun thus it is evident that he will also be biased towards Christians. Portia also refers to Shylock as a “Jew”.
The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This novel is written in the backdrop of French Revolution. We see a Frenchman, Charles Darnay has come to England to earn his own living. He has left behind aristocracy. In the course of the novel, he was falsely charged with Treason. We see how the English Court was trying to prove Charles guilty to please the English King. Also, we see just because a look alike of Charles was available, how easily the charges were dropped.
At this time, the justice system was poor in both France and England. We see how a Royal servant was guillotined just for serving a Royal family. Several French were punished because their Ancestors had committed crime. We see that even though Darnay has left behind his Aristocracy, he was not spared. We see that Mob was deciding the trial. It should be noted that this was not similar to death penalty.


A Passage to India by E.M. Foster

The novel is written during 1920-21, i.e. 20 years after Indian Independence. “A Passage to India” by E.M. Foster is generally studied from a Post-colonial perspective. The Colonial countries believed that their culture was superior. This is because unless they show that their culture is superior to others, the colonized countries would not accept their rule over them. The same situation happened in India during the British colonial rule. We see that often Indians used to see Whites as superior to them because of their sense of clothing and manners. Basically, they were attracted towards the British way of living.
This novel deals with the possibility of a friendship between Britishers and Indians, though at the end of the novel we see that such a friendship is not possible.
In the novel, we see that Mr. Aziz, an Indian doctor and Mr. Fielding, a Britisher has a friendship. However, the Britishers came to India as Administrators and not as Visitors and this idea takes toll on their friendship. If the Britishers were in India to learn the Indian culture, then the possibility of a friendship could have been considered.
In the novel, we see that on their very first meeting Mr. Fielding asks the Indians, Mr. Godbole and Mr. Aziz to guide them to Marabar caves. Though at first both of them agreed, later, Mr. Godbole refused to go as a cat has crossed his path.
In the Novel, the caves have been described as negation in religion. There is philosophy in Hindus that goes towards negation in religion and then developed into Buddhism. Negation here means Godless State and not Atheism. Since Adi Guru Sankaracharya, this concept has evolved into a discipline. Caves echo because they are in the riverbed. This concept is exclusive to Hinduism. This is echo of consciousness and one enters into nothingness. It is projected that this philosophy is disturbing for Christians. We see Mrs. Moore is disturbed by the silence of the caves and runs out. Adela, another British character’s consciousness is challenged. She feels that she is probably attacked by Mr. Aziz inside the cave in the darkness but it is not so.
When the Trial goes into the Court, we see that even before the charges were proved, the Britishers were convinced that Dr. Aziz has committed the crime. They felt that since Dr. Aziz was an Indian, he must have been attracted towards the White woman.
Later, Adela herself rejected the claim. She realized that she had actually entered the cave alone but the Britishers are bent towards punishing Dr. Aziz. They use their political power for this purpose. The Britishers offered to call other witnesses, offered to call off the trial on medical grounds and tried to persuade Adela to go on with the allegations. They use their power to manipulate the Indian Judge.
This novel proves that the Britishers enjoyed more rights and they can employ Judiciary Administration to put down the Indians and make the difference.
Also, we see that there was a possibility of influencing the Trial by the Indians. We see that outside the Court gate Indians (both Hindus and Muslims) had gathered and they were shouting slogans against the British. Thus, this might have created a pressure and influence on people associated with the trial.

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1st Year, MNLU, Nagpur.

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