East London Opium Smokers Essay

The document entitled “East London Opium Smokers” is a document written by an anonymous author, very possibly because he did not want to be identified. The excerpt is a story of a journey into England’s Bluegate Fields in search of the “Opium Master” to obtain opium, his specific drug of choice. He claims that this man will teach him his trade, something more special than receiving the drug from any chemist or other distributor. However, it is acceptable to say the author is simply “slumming”.

The author calls the Opium Master one who will prepare the Opium, with a “competent hand”, and claims that “he is regarded as a person worth visiting by lords and dukes and even princes and kings…” Ironically, the author follows this sentence with an extremely judgmental paragraph beginning as “The inhabitants of Bluegate Fields are the worst in England”. However, he still expected to be greeted by a man of high importance; by someone “dressed in a gown of gold-embroidered crimson silk”. He then calls the man he meets, Chi Ki, “very poorly clad indeed”.

The author talks as though he is looking down upon the Opium Master, especially after his prediction of Chi Ki turned out to be so incorrect. His standards were held too high for the “Opium Master”. His judgment is very similar to Bentham’s views of the different working classes. Bentham viewed the working class as dirty and promiscuous, while his outlook on the middle class was of cleaner people. It is also very reasonable to assume that the author was of middle class because he is seemingly emulating the upper class by his judgments.

The author ends the passage by introducing Chi Ki’s “English wife”. In specifying her nationality, it seems the author fears or disapproves of miscegenation. He did not expect the Opium Master to have an English wife. In this last paragraph, Darwinism is extremely concurrent. The author seems to share Darwin’s theory of eugenics and selective breeding. His judgments come back into play when he discusses “Mrs. Chi Ki” as “being gradually smoke dried”, which could possibly be referring to her as a piece of meat being hung to dry in the smoke.

After analyzing the piece there are a few apparent reasons as to why the author chose to be anonymous. He is judgmental, racist, and ultimately did not want the audience to know of his slumming. He begins his venture with optimism and ends it with the realization that the family is just as he described the area of Bluegate Fields. He was also negatively surprised with the miscegenation in the house. His views are seen today as rude and demeaning, which he may have known, but still wanted to extend his experience to the public.