Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Postcolonial Gothic texts? Essay
earlier starting this essay, it is important to acknowledge the detail that the term postcompound Gothic is liberala voiceless to define accurately. For the most part of this essay, I will be taking for granted the item that these texts be essenti besidesy postcolonial in form, in so far as they are texts that deport emerged in their array form out of the experience of colonization and asserted themselves by foreground the tension with imperial strength. 1 It is with this certainty in mind that I will be formulaing more specific totallyy at the black letter elements of the wear rounds, which separate the texts from some other(prenominal) typically postcolonial works.Nevertheless, certain distinguishing postcolonial features will arise throughout the essay and this will be especially explicit when I wait at the contextual aspects of the pieces. Turcotte identifies the fact that it is certainly possible to argue that the generic qualities of the Gothic mode lend th emselves to articulating the colonial experience in as much as each emerges out of a condition of excommunication and uncertainty, of the familiar transposed into unfamiliar space.2 As much(prenominal), the idea of shift presents itself distinctly though the two texts. In Wide gulfweed ocean for instance, we belief a strong experience of Rochesters alienation in Jamaica Is it true, she say, that England is like a woolgather? Beca make use of ane of my friends who married an Englishman wrote and told me so. She utter this pop like London is like a cold dark dream some eras. I want to wake up. Well, I answered annoyed, that is precisely how your beautiful island cope withms to me, kinda un very and like a dream. entirely how put forward rivers and mountains and the sea be unreal? And how digest millions of people, their houses and their streets be unreal? (67) He finds it impossible to tone of voice comfortable in Jamaica and it is Antoinettes equivalent inabilit y to understand England that forms a barrier between the couple. The gulf between their different backgrounds and upbringings is tokenly unambiguous through this conversation and it becomes increasingly unclouded that Rochester sees Antoinette as alien and ungetatable to himI felt very little tenderness for her, she was a stranger to me, a stranger who did non think or feel as I did. (78) Therefore, we see the postcolonial notion of the other featuring in the novel. When we learn that Rochester views Antoinette in such a manner as that which is unfamiliar and extraneous to a dominant subjectivity3 a certain uncomfortableness is created, which amplifies the medieval tone of the novel. The reader senses his discomfort with her ethnicity, as he talks derogatively intimately herI did not relish going back to England in the character reference of rejected suitor jilted by this Creole girl. (65) This prejudice seems to burst into a deep-seated idolatry of contamination f rom the Creole woman with long, dark, impress alien eyes who looked very much like Amelie. (105) Further sustenance his discomfort with her ethnic origin is the fact that he insists upon calling her Bertha, notwithstanding her objections Bertha is not my flesh. You are trying to vex me into someone else, calling me by another name. (121)His renaming of Antoinette notifys that he wants to make her sound more English and, since she shares her name with her mother, he as well appears to want to detach her from her family and her creole heritage. Antoinette is a gaberdine creole and throughout the novel, the reader senses that Rochester feels betrayed by his experience he has at peace(p) to Jamaica in order to marry a wealthy heiress, whose skin is albumin like his ingest. As such, at first sight, things do appear to match normality for him and it is sole(prenominal) when he gets to know her better that the differences in their make up show through.To pinpoint this sens ation more precisely, we need to look at an idea stemming from displacement, that Freud identified as the condition of the preternatural, where the home is unhomely where the heimlich becomes unheimlich and tho remains sufficiently familiar to disorient and disempower. 4 This is certainly the stain in which Rochester finds himself and this is epitomised when Rochester begins to see Antoinette as a doll She lifted her eyes. uncontaminating lovely eyes. Mad eyes I scarcely recognised her voice. No lovesometh, no sweetness.The doll had a dolls voice, a asphyxiating nevertheless curiously different voice. (140) Freud claimed that a favourable condition for the odorual is when there is uncertainty as to whether an object is subsisting or not and this is certainly the mien in which Rochester views Antoinette. Therefore, although on the surface everything appears to be normal, all the things around Rochester need a peculiar unfamiliarity for him. The character of Antoinette withal suffers such alienation when she arrives in England and is confined to her room Now they fork over taken everything a track.What am I doing in this place and who am I? (147) The reader senses that without her country and the things around her that are familiar to her, she has lost her own identity. The notions of displacement and the uncanny are very worrisome in essence. They instill the novel with a sense of unease and a sense of worry in the characters that the readers can relate to. Similarly, in Ovando more of these features of displacement and the uncanny are evident and the anxiety and dread that this imposes on the reader is what gives this score its chivalric overtones.The character of Ovando symbolises the imperial power in the story and the fibber represents the native peoples, crushed by the colonisers. The impact of Ovando on the bank clerks land is profound and the imposition of his European culture appears to contribute to this exertion He carries wi th him the following things bibles, cathedrals, museums libraries (3) Although these things represent the treasures of culture in their European milieu, the fabricator appears to be recognising the fact that these things do not belong in their tender World environment.Through enforcing these things on the overbold land, Ovando is conforming to what is described in The Empire Writes Back as the political and cultural monocentrism of the colonial effort of the European tender-heartedity. 5 Furthermore, Ovando enforces his religious beliefs on the natives and this becomes clear when he tries to relieve his actions by referring to fate and the vote counter states I could have brought a choke up to what was an trespass to me, a discovery to him after all, I as well as knew of divinities and eternities and constant reddents. (4)Ovando fails to see that the natives have their own belief systems in place and his ignorance is exemplified by the fact that the narrator appears t o find out Ovandos downfall, acknowledging his ignorance. Although he does not pass over the colonisers actions in any way, there is a degree of understanding on the part of the narrator -who represents the natives that does appear to be present in Ovando To the strangers eye (Ovandos) everything in my world appears as if it were do anew each night as I sleep, by gods in their supernal chambers (7)The narrator is acknowledging the fact that Ovando and the Imperial powers on the whole failed to realise that the New World ironically named by the imperialists was not in fact new. These countries had their own pasts and their own usances that the narrow-minded colonisers, who had their eyes half-shut (6), failed to recognise or appreciate. Although of course this narrative is written from the biased perspective of the natives (Kincaids background supports this fact) the historical accounts of colonisation do essentially support the notion of the blinkered imperialists.As a conseq uence of this and the lack of integration into native lifestyle by the colonisers, they fail to see that their European traditions are disset(p) in this new environment and, through imposing them, they create a rift between themselves and the natives. much obviously present in Ovando is the notion of the uncanny. Standing alongside this sense of displacement, the presence of the uncanny promotes a very daunting and disturbing feel in the piece. Turcotte directs the notion of the uncanny in postcolonial literature in particular to the notion of physical perversionwhere nature, it seemed to many, was out of kilter. 6 Throughout this slight story, everything is out of kilter in effect. For instance, when Ovando is looking at the map, Kincaid distorts reality and time Using the forefinger of his left hand, he traced on his map a line. Months later his finger came to a stop. It was a point not too far from where he had started. (6) This distortion of time is disorientating to the read er and the narrator describes other events, which are equally impossible.When for instance the narrator describes the protest put to Ovando about(predicate) his unfair treatment of the natives, he undergoes a exploit of metamorphosis But Ovando could not hear me, for by this time his head had taken the stamp of a groundworm, which has no ears. (10) Although the narrator is clearly illustrating his refusal to hear the pleas of the natives, it becomes clear that nada is impossible in the story. Kincaid writes The moment in which the words could be said was the moment in which the words would be true. (8) and the reader recognises that whatever is said in the story simply has to be accepted as the truth.The germ gives words an enormous amount of command and authority and, as such, the power of words in this story exceeds the influence of the reader to interpret the events for themselves. Therefore, it could be deemed that Kincaid is confiscating the power of interpretation from the reader in order to highlight the way in which power was taken away from the natives and the unease and discomfort that this creates adds to the black letter effect of the story. Morrow and McGraph acknowledge that after the 1830 and 40s the medieval became increasingly fascinated with the oral sex of the mediaeval nature.7 This is particularly obvious in Ovando, with Kincaids in- prescience exploration of the mental workings of the coloniser. The suppositious superiority of the European colonisers, over the natives is obvious through the character of Ovando, who insists upon possessing the natives. Similarly, we have insight into the workings of the colonised people. We see their bitter retrospection at their welcoming attitude towards the colonisers Ovando, I said, Ovando, and I smiled at him and threw my arms open to embrace this stinky relic of a person.Many people have said that this was my first big mistake, and I always say, How could it be a mistake to show sympat hy to another human being, on first meeting? (3) Although this is not symbolic of the gothic personality in the same way that Ovandos thoughts are, the juxtaposition of this welcoming, warm attitude highlights the deviousness of Ovandos thinking, as he deliberately takes favor of people who were prepared to share their land with him. In Wide gulfweed Sea, there is no equally explicit demonic gothic personality as there is in Ovando. However, there are dark qualities lurking in both Antoinette and Rochester.With Antoinette, of course, her personality creates an amount of unease in the reader, particularly since we apprised of the fate of the character she is rooted in from Charlotte Brontes Jane Eyre. Additionally, with Rochesters unease about the fact that her mother was mad (129), the reader is constantly stalk by the notion that she will term of enlistment out like her mother. Obviously, these anxieties turn out to be justified as we see her realisation of her supposed respo nsibility I was outside holding my candle. Now at decease I know why I was brought here and what I have to do. (155-6).Antoinette burns down the house, believing in her misery that this is her destiny. This, in itself, is quite a morbid notion that amplifies her state of discouragement and gloom. McGraph and Morrow acknowledge that the new gothicist would take as a starting place the concern with indoor entropy spiritual and emotional breakdown 8 Therefore the recognition of Antoinettes despair means that, although this insight into her psyche does not reflect the incompatibility and gruesomeness of the gothic personality in Ovando, the extent of her despair instils a deep sense of dismay in the reader and supports the gothic nature of the text.The respective writers also employ various literary techniques in the pieces, which indicate that the texts are postcolonial gothic in nature. For instance, the entire notion of gothic literature is suggestive of horror, madness, mon strosity, death, disease, terror, evil and weird sexuality9 and many of these qualities are prevalent in Ovando. The imagery used in Ovando conforms to these usurious characteristics customary in gothic literature and the physical manner of Ovando corresponds to this in particularNot a shred of flesh was left on his bones he was a complete skeleton except for his brain, which remained, and was ripening smaller by the millennium. He stank (3) This gruesome image of Ovando can only provoke horror and disgust in the reader and the nightmarish qualities of such gothic literature present themselves clearly here. Similarly, the physical appearance of Ovando continues to wane into the form of the devil He had also grown horns on all side of his head, and from these he hung various instruments of torture his tongue he made forked. (9)This demonic image is possibly one of the darkest images that can be worn-out upon and, as such, Kincaid is portraying the character of Ovando in the mos t evil way possible. The idea that he personally made his tongue forked also draws to mind images of masochism that, again, are dark in nature. This use of graphic and disturbing imagery draws all the qualities of horror, madness, monstrosity together to form a deeply disturbing text conforming to the conventions of gothic writing. The structure of Ovando also allows the piece to fit into the genre of gothic literature successfully.The piece is dreamlike in that it has no fixed structure and it moves through the action with no real sense of succession at all. Events do not lead into one another, but the reader gets the sense of dreamlike disorder with the physical world constantly changing. It is this constant flux in the story that creates a disturbing sense of disorder in the piece, which, no doubt, reflects the disorder created by the invasion of the colonisers. In Wide gulfweed Sea, Rhys uses some very graphic images that are disturbing in nature and as such conform to the go thic style.During the attempt, we hear Antoinettes retelling of events, as she realises that their pet parrot is stuck in the importunate house I opened my eyes, everybody was looking up and pointing at coconut on the glacis railings with his feathers alight. He made an effort to fly down but his clipped wings failed him and he fell down screeching. He was all on fire. (36) This horrific image of the bird being burned alive equates to the burning images of the devil in Ovando and highlights the notion of suffering in the text.The colonial experience clearly caused suffering and anguish and this conveyance of pain is an useful means of expressing this. Rhys also refers frequently to the notion of obeah, which relates to black magic and spirit theft. Antoinette accuses Rochester of obeah, through trying to change her name, but she is also guilty of its praxis when she puts a love potion in his wine. This exploration of the unknown and the ghosts that Christophine knows about, al though that is not what she calls them (113) creates an eerie and supernatural dimension in the piece.The use of such ideas by Rhys is consistent with the daunting elements that define the gothic genre. In Ovando in particular, the gothic literary technique of inversion is also employed throughout. McGraph and Marrow identify the use of inversion as a gothic effect, where terror and unreason subverted consensus and rationality, where warmheartedness was transformed into disgust, love turned to hatred and ethical engendered evil. 10 The narrator appears to acknowledge throughout that good can engender evil. When Ovando arrived on the island, of course, the narrator was eager to accept himFor I loved him then, not the way I would love my mother, or my child, but with that more general and spontaneous kind of love that I feel when I see any human being. (3) The good in Ovando, however, is overtaken by avarice and self-love, epitomised in the masturbation case where Ovando gently passes his hands down his own back, through the crevices of his private move (11-12). Therefore, the reader senses that the imperial powers were all subjected to this inversion driven by greed in effect, and this literary technique is an effective way of mirroring this inversion of good to bad in human beings.Similarly in Wide Sargasso Sea, some of these features of inversion can also seen to be employed by Rhys. Rochesters worsening feelings towards Antionette indicate this and such an overturn in emotions that epitomises the gothic tone and alteration from passion to disgust can be seen when Rochester sleeps with Amelie. No sooner has he slept with her, did he begin to feel discontented with her appearance her skin was darker, her lips thicker than I had thought I had no wish to smell her and she knew it, for she got up at once and began to dress. (115-6)His darkest fears appear to surface through her, with his recognition of how native she looks and the hint that he worrie s further that she could be related to Antoinette. Having antecedently stated Perhaps they are related, I thought. Its possible, its even probable in this damned place. (105) -the way in which he sees her this forenoon strongly rouses the deep-seated fear of incestuous relations in him. These issues in themselves are dark and gothic in that sense, although the fact that these issues are only hinted at makes them far more ominous in some respects. feeling at the works from a contextual perspective, it is interesting to see that Gelder concludes that Postcolonial nations can re-animate the traumas of their colonial pasts to produce Gothic narratives. 11 This can be seen explicitly in Ovando through the character of Frey Nicolas de Ovando. Although he appears to be a fictitious character, he was undoubtedly named after a sixteenth century governor in the Dominican Republic. Friar Nicolas de Ovando was governor from 1502 to 1509 and during this time, he was renowned for his barbari c treatment of the native Taino family.It is reported that, in order to gain more power over the tribes, he arranged a feast for the tribe chiefs and then burnt down the house where it was held. Furthermore, any people who survived the fire were tortured and killed. There is no question that Kincaids character was created in direct reference to him and the cruelty of the character of Ovando in her novel supports this fact One morning, Ovando arose from his bed. Assisted by people he had forcibly placed in various stages of social and spiritual degradation (9)This demonstrates explicitly the cull that Kincaid attributes to Ovando for the pain and suffering caused. She dispels any notions of fate or necessity and lays the core group on the shoulder of the one character who, in addition to clearly being the general described above, broadly represents the imperial nations. It is clear that Kincaid is lottery upon real life horrors for her story and Turcotte identifies this techniqu e From its inception the Gothic has dealt with fears and themes which are endemic in the colonial experience isolation, entrapment, fear of pursuit and fear of the unknown.12 Therefore we see that the gothic genre is particularly bright for expressing the distresses caused by the process of colonisation. This process of the re-animation of traumas from peoples colonial pasts is reiterate in a sense through Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea. She is retelling a Gothic story that already exists in Jane Eyre, giving depth and, indeed, a life to Rochesters mad wife in the attic. Spivak recognises that Rhys takes Brontes Jane Eyre and rewrites a canonical English text within the European novelistic tradition in the interest of the black-and-blue Creole rather than the native.13 This would suggest that, just as the madwoman in the attic has no voice in Jane Eyre, neither does the colonised persons in colonial and postcolonial literature. Therefore, Rhys is giving them the voice they have been dep rived of. Many things point to the fact that this was her deliberate intention and we can assume that her personal reward from doing such a thing is clear when we hear other accounts of prejudice in her works I had notice that if I called myself English they would snub me haughtily Youre not English youre a horridcolonial. 14 Jean Rhys was a white Creole like this character and, as such, the closeness of the character to the novelist makes it difficult to detach the two. Therefore, it is clear that the gothic genre for Rhys is an effective means of transferral the personal trauma she has experienced as a result of prejudice, stemming from colonisation. In conclusion, it is clear to see that these texts can be defined as postcolonial gothic. As postcolonial texts, they also possess many of the distinguishing features of gothic texts.The aptness of the gothic genre as a means of reiterating colonial pasts is evident throughout, as the horror and disruption that it conveys so well is symbolic of the anxiety and heartache that the process of colonisation created for those people ensnared in its progression.Bibliography Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back hypothesis and Practice in Postcolonial literary productionss. London Routledge. 1989. ed. Athill, Diana. The Day They Burned the rule books in The composed Short Stories of Jean Rhys. New York W. W. Norton. 1968. Boehmer, Elleke. Colonial and Postcolonial Literature.Oxford Oxford University Press. 1995. Ed. Childs, Peter. Post-Colonial Theory and English Literature A Reader. Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. 1999. Gelder, Ken. Postcolonial Gothic in The Handbook to Gothic Literature. ed. Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. Basingstoke Macmillan. 1998. Kincaid, Jamaica. Ovando in The Picador ledger of the New Gothic. A Collection of Contemporary Gothic Fiction. ed. Mcgraph, Patrick Morrow, Bradford. London Picador. 1992. ed. McGraph, Patrick, Bradford Morrow. The Picador Book of the New Gothic. A Collection of Contemporary Gothic Fiction.