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The Subaltern in Wide Sargasso Sea, Voyage in the Dark and Smile Please by Jean Rhys


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Širol, Ivona. (2019). The Subaltern in Wide Sargasso Sea, Voyage in the Dark and Smile Please by Jean Rhys. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Klepač, Tihana].

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Jean Rhys was interested in portraying the unexplored in the character of a Creole woman. Her novels Wide Sargasso Sea and Voyage in the Dark, as well as her unfinished autobiography Smile Please employ the notion of difference as the main motif: the difference in race, gender, social position or place of birth – all of which makes the Creoles the subaltern in comparison with the ruling class. The subalterns do not have the right to tell their stories- the dominant culture takes away their voice and reshapes their stories. The position of the Creole, where they are placed in the “limbo”, between the colonizers and the colonized makes them unfamiliar, strange, and almost animal-like in the eyes of the British. However, in the 20th century, although being Creole was bad enough, being Creole woman was even worse- they were presented as unchaste and intemperate. They express the desire to go black, to belong to the native communities; however that is impossible due to their socioeconomic status. On the other hand, they cannot pass as white, since the British society perceives them as lesser humans, due to their peculiar accent and the possibility that they are of mixed race. Their bodies are commodified, they are perceived almost as slave-women, the marionettes, the zombies, unable to control their destinies, waiting to be awakened by a memory of their homeland. Rhys, as a Creole woman herself, was, too, ambiguous and conflictive regarding her identity and her nationality. The question of the difference and sense of belonging prompted her to discuss the position of the Creole women and their place in the society of the 20th century, as well as represent the space that is “there somewhere”, unfamiliar to the British. Critical of the imperialism and the way the imperialistic powers perceived those that were placed above the familiarity of their known world and sphere, she presents the stories of the Creole women and gives them the ability to speak.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: post-colonialism, Jean Rhys, the subaltern
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Klepač, Tihana
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2019 12:59
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2019 12:59

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