Essay on Diary of a Victorian Dandy by Yinka Shonibare

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Yinka Shonibare’s five-part image narration Diary of a Victorian Dandy exhibited in the London Underground invites public transit users to partake in the daily lifestyle of a black Victorian dandy. The irony inherent in the presence of a black dandy as the work’s centerpiece dismisses the functionality of British restrictions set in the Victorian Era by delving into the notions of race and social class. Specifically, by emphasizing the black dandy’s superiority over his white counterparts and introducing a harmonic interplay between lower and upper-tier social classes, Shonibare makes evident to public viewers that Victorian norms favouring upper-class society were not static and could have been transcended in both a racial and social…show more content…
Contrarily, Shonibare communicates to the viewers that the stereotyped inferiority of the black race during the Victorian Era was not absolute. Though rare, black people could have transcended this racial norm because “11:00 hours” proposes that there is no evidence suggesting that they were less capable than white folks. In another case, Shonibare addresses the norm that the black race was more primitive than its white counterpart. Victorian Britain became more racist when Darwin’s theory on evolution gave all races a shared primitive ancestry (race and racism). As an add-on, scientific and technological superiority became the prime indicator of racial superiority, and Britain fit this category due to its massive colonial expansions and development in weaponry (race and racism). These advancements led to the belief that the British race was evolving from the primitive lifestyle faster than the black race, which ultimately tagged all black people as primal. Shonibare challenges this idea in “3:00 hours” where the black dandy engages in an orgy with his lackeys at three in the morning. In Captain Jesse’s The Life of George Brummell, esq., Commonly Called Beau Brummell, Brummell “had too much self-love ever to be really in love” (119). Brummell is unable to profess his love for anyone but himself, characterizing a dandy as one whose self-obsessed infatuation grants them a rare emotional composure to restrain

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