Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature



Major Advisor

Carol A. Martin, Ph.D.


Matthew C. Hansen, Ph.D.


Linda Marie Zaerr, Ph.D.


England’s opium trade with China in the nineteenth century, often conjures up images of a powerful nation, for financial gain and heedless of the damage caused, nefariously thrusting addictive drugs on an unwitting Chinese people and unwilling Chinese government. But this image hides the English side of the story, i.e. England’s own problem with opium. The English imported thousands of pounds for domestic use each year in the 19th century, and until the late 1860s its sale was completely unrestricted. It was used as a veritable cure-all for various diseases, as well as a relief for any kind of pain, much like aspirin today (Lomax 167). The English did not consider use of the drug to be problematic early in the century, but as the extent of usage began to be understood and associated with negative aspects of the working class, which Victorian consciousness often figured as indolent, dishonest, and even criminal, opium use began to be seen as a source of concern.