According to Fidel Castro, “If there ever was in the history of humanity an enemy who was truly universal, an enemy whose acts and moves trouble the entire world, threaten the entire world, attack the entire world in any way or another, that real and really universal enemy is precisely imperialism.
” From the Neolithic to the Modern Era, Imperialism marks a fundamental human desire that has ravaged civilizations, crumbled empires, and demolished nations. With the dawning of the imperialistic era, fundamental English axiomatic imposition ran rampant and unbridled.Gayatri Spivaks essay “Three Women’s texts and a Critique of Imperialism” and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea analyze the aftermath of unchecked imperialism through the review and perspective narration of Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. Spivak claims that “it should not be possible to read nineteenth-century British literature without remembering that imperialism, understood as England’s social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English. Using these two texts and a vivid comprehension of what imperialism is and how it operates, one is given the key to unlocking the intricate connections between Antoinette’s deflationsary spiral and its imperialistic roots. Unsurprisingly, a simple dictionary definition of imperialism fails to successfully accentuate the breadth of its implications. Imperialism is not only the DEFINTION NEED INTERNET Armed with the knowledge of imperialism, one can begin to investigate the history of British imperialism in the Caribbean and how it relates to Antoinetes difficult childhood.In 1624 Britain established its first permanent Caribbean colony on the island of St.
Kitts. Soon their shadow claimed Barbados in 1625, several Leeward Islands during the following years, and Jamaica in 1655 with the iron fist leadership of King Charles. Unfortunately, despite his exploits, King Charles was not so well loved on his home front and eventually parliamentary leader Oliver Cromwell usurped the crown with a bitter civil war that greatly affected Barbados residents.
Charles was swiftly defeated and Cromwell ordered his execution and exile to his son. However, British imperialism temporarily won over the blissfully ignorant Barbados population and they proclaimed their allegiance to the exiled prince in the 1650’s. The next 160 years permanently scarred the Caribbean people and resources as Britain violently quelled any insurgence and engaged in numerous battles with France, Spain and the Netherlands in efforts to further expand its Caribbean empire.With the dawn of the terrible Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), also known as the French and Indian War, Jamaica, Barbados and the Leeward Islands served as the British economic epicenter because of the abundance of highly profitable sites for sugar cultivation. The West Indian Lobby (a group of planters and merchants) an extremely influential pressure group in the British Parliament lobbied incessantly to maintain the British stranglehold in the Caribbean.Also, they were prominent advocates for trade in enslaved Africans which represented a profitable business that complemented trade in Caribbean sugar, most of which was actually consumed in Britain. A protected market in Britain helped to assure the profitability of sugar to planters and merchants.
The Africans paid a high cost for sugar production since their life expectancy amounted to seven years after arriving on Caribbean plantations. This is just the beginning of a line of atrocities committed by the British whose imperialistic philosophies excused such inhumane treatment; thus, imperialism and rebellion come hand in hand.Africans resisted slavery through a variety of means, including sabotage of plantations and organized rebellions. Many escaped from bondage and established autonomous “maroon” settlements, especially in Jamaica, where two wars were fought with the British government to preserve their, although anarchist, independence. Jamaica, out of all the Caribbean nations, struggled most with Imperialism for it resisted the most.
Ironically, back in the 1650’s, Cromwell never intended to take Jamaica and instead sent forces to Hispaniola. Disease and weak leadership failed the operation and the captain turned to Jamaica in desperation.Interestingly, upon arrival, Jamaica’s cities were completely empty in fear of constant pirate attacks and the land was promptly claimed for England. The Spanish, who originally colonized Jamaica, were forced to sign a treaty since the British force was just too big. In retaliation, the Spanish fled the island with all the valuable goods and released all the slaves, who later became known as Maroons. These Maroons were a potent force, a unified people that refused to be enslaved once more and fought hard to reject British religion, culture, and government.Over 200 years of turmoil, four main groups emerged in Jamaica: Maroons, Tainos, Coloured, and White.
Tainos were the indigenous natives discovered by Columbus back in 1494 and remain to this day a vibrant community. The Coloured were a direct result of imperialism as whites had affairs with Jamaican woman who gave birth to children who were neither black nor white. Historian Veront Satchell quaintly summarizes the difficult position coloured offspring encountered, “Children of free women were born free, but those of slave women were born enslaved.Some coloured that were born as slaves were freed through manumission (the formal release of a slave) by their fathers.
Masters at times also manumitted black slaves for various reasons, such as in reward for a lifetime of servitude. Free coloured formed a middle group on the social ladder, between blacks and whites. They disassociated themselves from the slaves but were not accepted by the whites. ” Antoinette, Jane Eyre’s “mad woman in the attic”, was born into the coloured community and therefore struggled in her childhood.The turn of the nineteenth century introduced rampant industrialization in Britain thereby promoting free trade and acquiring new sources of sugar, which decreased the important of Caribbean colonies. Eventually, a combination of war, American secession, and a growing abolitionist movement pressured Parliament to abolish the slave trade in 1807. However, imperialism left its mark and the once lush, glorious islands of the Caribbean were now war torn nations of crime, depression, and depravity.
In this setting does the story of Antoinette Mason begin, the witch of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.Antoinette was born in one of the most tumultuous periods of Jamaican history, a short while after the 1834 emancipation of the slaves. With their freedom from the chains of imperialism, the slaves sought revenge by burning thousands of plantations and attacking hundreds of white families. Antoinette, still a young girl at the time, was completely unaware of such politics.
Unaware of coloured heritage, she did not understand why her mother was purely white or white she was rejected by the other blacks. I never looked at any strange negro. They hated us. They called us white cockroaches. Let sleeping dogs lie. One day a little girl followed me singing, “Go away white cockroach, go away, go away.
” Her father was a classic imperialist, traveling to the Caribbean to establish a business, detesting the culture and people, cheating on his wife with black servants, and quickly abandoning the situation. With the master gone, the plantation began to crumble and so did Antoinette’s mother’s sanity.Nonetheless, her child’s innocence shone through the tumult and she loved her home dearly as evidenced by this description of the coulibri garden, “Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible – the tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild.
The paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest trees, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched.
One was snaky looking, another like an octopus with long thin brown tentacles bare of leaves hanging from a twisted root. and eventual, yet short-lived friendship with local Maroon girl, Tia. During the slave revolts, Mr. Mason, an English businessman fell in love with Antoinette’s mother and attempted to reestablish the plantation. This however drew hostility from the locals, which he in turn denied because his imperialistic perceptions interpreted their violence as simply their native, barbaric culture. This ignorance is by far the greatest flaw of imperialism for it prevents understanding and unity.
His denial, or simply naivete, ended with blood as Coulibri fell prey to a revolt.This event was especially significant for Antoinette for it marked the beginning of her downfall since not only did her mentally disabled brother perish in the father, but Tia, who she thought was her only friend, made the cultural fissure a reality by pelting her with stones. This is exactly what Spivak was referring to when she explains how the essence of imperialism is to divide, despite its mission to unify.
Imperialism spurred the natives and Maroon’s anger, imperialism brings the ignorant Englishman, and imperialism created a horrible ethnic divide.With her son dead, her second husband in ruins, and her home destroyed, whatever vestiges of sanity soon disappeared from Antoinette’s mother. This was a harsh blow to Antoinette for she care immensely for her mother and felt completely abandoned. With nowhere else to turn, Antoinette begins to live at a convent. She felt safe here and found her faith in God. When she came of age, Antoinette was quickly married off to an Englishman, which she would soon find out, would be the bane of her existence for she would marry the face of imperialism itself. ADD QUOTE SOMEWHER) Rochester is a human incarnation of imperialism. His personage is endowed with every possible characteristic of the classic 1850’s English jingoist whose hegemonic objectives is simply to marry a native for her money.
Phlegmatic and unfeeling, sinister and calculating, Rochester did not marry Antoinette out of love. Rather, he married her because not only will it add handsomely to his riches, but it his obligation, no, his duty, as a “cultured” English gentleman to save these poor godless savages from their barbaric lifestyles.From the moment he set foot in the Caribbean, Rochester was instantly repelled by its beauty, scared by its exotics, and shocked by its people. A racist and bigot, Rochester was unable to accept this land and left hesitantly with Antoinette to her summer home Granbois, “There was a soft warm wind blowing but I understood why the porter had called it a wild place. Not only wild but menacing. Those hills could close in on you […] Everything is too much, I felt as I rode wearily after her.
Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near. Rochester is overwhelmed and goes into sensory overload as he makes his way to Granbois. Unable to hand the “wild” beauty of the Caribbean, he finds it “menacing” as it threatens to control his senses. As the weeks passed by almost ethereally, Rochester grew more and more weary of the servants and discomforted by the surrounding jungle, missing the dreary London streets. He began to consistently bicker with Antoinette, frustrated with her incompetence, obstinacy, and innate ability to understand and appreciate such an exotic place.Whatever chances of salvaging their relationship were rapidly dissolved when Rochester received a letter from Antoinette’s half brother, who was also an unfortunate byproduct of imperialism. Abandoned by his father and bent on revenge, he informs Rochester of Antoinette’s mother’s sickness and suggests that Antoinette will eventually follow in her mother’s footsteps and succumb to insanity.
Rochester, insulted by his impudence and shell-shocked by the truth realizes that Antoinette is no longer the simple, innocent girl he married, but a ticking time bomb.Ignoring her attempts to win his “love” once more, Rochester begins to call her Bertha instead of Antoinette. This marks the true power of imperialism. Indeed, it changes the course of history, fissures cultures, and enslaves people.
However, unlike any other force, imperialism has the ability to strip ones identity. Whether through relentless religious missions, forced labor and education, environmental destruction, or systematic extermination of an ethnicity, imperialism manages to make a person or people completely forget who they once were.With each passing week, Antoinette becomes less and less Antoinette, and more and more Bertha. Less the free-spirited, ambitious, and loving young girl; and more a stoic, emotionless owl, following Rochester without hesitation and no longer able to think freely. The culmination of a few more significant events including Antoinette’s attempt to drug Rochester, his adultery with the servant NAME (a classic imperialist move), and Rochester’s decision to evict Antoinette’s final life line to her past, her cherished servant and friend, NAME, lead to this eventual state.QUOTE ABOUT IDENTITY The final day at Granbois is a bitter scene. The woman who first came was a strong-willed, caring Antoinette and the woman leaving is a broken husk, a ghost of the former self, Bertha.
Rochester makes a final observation as he leaves, once more revealing a classic imperialist incentive, “It was a beautiful place-wild, untouched, above all untouched, with an alien, disturbing, secret loveliness. And it kept its secret. I’d find myself thinking, What I see is nothing-I want what it hides-that is not nothing. ” The concept of imperialism is founded upon this perception of “worlding” as Spivak so eloquently put.Which essentially means that the imperialists are bent on mastering the world and are infuriated by nothing more than the inability to understand the treasures they so hastily stole.
Rochester reflects on this dilemma as he leaves Granbois and thus acknowledges this weakness. Mao Zedong misunderstood when he described Imperialism as a “paper tiger”. Indeed, imperialism is a tiger, but not of paper. Rather, a tiger of stone and bronze, iron and steal, silver and gold, a tiger whose force cannot be undermined, whose influence has changed the course of history.Antoinette, was just one of billions of victims of this tiger, who succumbed to its power that slowly crushed her will, stripping her place in society, and eventually stealing her identity. Surely imperialistic nations have fallen and will fall in the future, but imperialism itself is too ingrained in human nature to ever disappear. Imperialism has left its mark on history and that alone is homage to its power.
Wide Sargasso Sea delves into the specific effects of imperialism from both the perspective of the victim, but also the imperialist themselves.Imperialism is not simply tyrannical control of a nation, but the control of its people. Their livelihood, psychology, philosophies, and humanity. Indeed, Wide Sargasso Sea provides a brilliant first person perspective of imperialistic effects by following the story of Antoinette in her youth. Accidental exploration and European bouts of fantasy through tempestuous seas and avid monarchs, the New World was discovered; with it, natural, scientific, and human (labor) resources.
Imperialism was a contest between nations. Who could claim, suppress, and reap fastest?Once the union jack was waving in the Caribbean winds, British law loomed over the island nations. If the natives failed to comply with the Anglican teachings and Britain’s materialistic perception of the world, slavery or death was imminent. Spivak described these imperialistic objectives in a quaint euphemism: “Childbearing and soul making”. Childbearing of course is simply reproduction for the purpose of propagating both the family name and culture. As Spivak eloquently put, “Childbearing is domestic-society-through-sexual-reproduction cathected as ‘companionate love’”.
Families travel to experience these strange new lands in an attempt to colonize and establish themselves as wealthy sects. Soul making, on the other hand, is the imperialistic rationalization of “saving” the natives from their savage lifestyle and educate them in the ways of God, science, and self-preservation (aka cupidity). Literally (well literally in a figurative sense), the colonists are attempting to instill souls into these poor misled barbarians.
The classic imperialistic “civil society social mission”.In Wide Sargasso Sea, the Conway family, who owned a large wealthy estate with slaves and servants and the various nunneries established in the cities, exemplifies this social mission. Imperialism, masquerading as a righteous movement to cleanse this hellish land, left unparalleled destruction in its wake. This brings me to Spivaks second point, the cultural repercussions of colonialism. She describes Jamaica as a land ravaged by slavery and the smothering of both land and cultures. Furthermore, she equates the native people to Caliban and Ariel of Shakespeare’s NAME OF PLAY.Spivak is implying that some natives recognized the value of European philosophy and followed the path of Ariel, the intellectual; while others would not be subjugated to injustice and violent mollification and rather persevere with their ancestral rights and beliefs and associate with Caliban, the fighting spirit (of course, the British imperialists are likened to Prospero, the foreign magician).
Spivak quotes Roberto Retamar’s “Caliban” to locate Caliban in the postcolonial intellectual: “The deformed Caliban-enslaved, robbed of his island, and taught the language by Prospero-rebukes him thus: ‘You taught me language and my profit Is.I know how to curse’”. The metaphor here is pretty self-explanatory. The natives were taught English, but only used it as a tool to further denounce their imperialist educators. Thus, the society was fractured.
The natives were split between support and contempt while the imperialists were split between pure European descents and colonially born (this can be further broken down into, colonial pure white or mix breed as seen with Daniel Cosway). Wide Sargasso Sea’s Antoinette is a product of this social divide, since she is trapped in a societal limbo, struggling to adhere to either the black or white community.Antoinette’s traumatic youth is also a result of the imperialist divide since she was a wealthy white colonial girl; she was resented by the families’ slaves and the general native population. Spivaks brilliant discourse reinforces this harsh reality, “Antoinette, as a white Creole child growing up at the time of emancipation in Jamaica, is caught between the English imperialist and the black native. ” Antoinette’s denial and eventual betrayal by her supposed native friend Tia models this brutality.
Following the Emancipation Act, the perturbed populace formed vicious riots and revolts and Antoinette’s family was targeted. In a particularly acute insurrection, Antoinette’s cherished home was burned and her brother perished with it. This event dramatically changed the course of her life and is a direct result of the people’s fury towards imperialist rule. Throughout Spivaks essay, there lies emphasis on the boundary between human and animal. This refers to the imperialist air of superiority, their belief that if an individual does not follow their accepted civilized practices, they are inferior, almost bestial.Spivak then talks about Bertha, the twisted identity of Antoinette, and how Bronte perceived her: “Let us consider the figure of Bertha Mason, a figure produced by the axiomatics of imperialism. Through Bertha Mason, the white Jamaican Creole, Bronte renders the human/animal frontier as acceptably interdeterminate, so that a good greater than the letter of the Law can be broached.
” Rochester married Antoinette not out of love or passion, but simply for money and power. The vital prerequisites for a successful English man.He simply was unable to relate to Antoinette, no matter what, they were fundamentally different. One loves the other lusts. One embraces the other rebuffs. Rochester detested Antoinette’s blissful ignorance and open-mindedness. To an imperialist this was a frightening dichotomy, paradoxical; oxymoronic. Rochester realized that Antoinette must be stripped of her identity and renamed Bertha, like a master would to a common house pet.
This violent renaming suggests that so intimate a thing as personal and human identity is determined by the politics of imperialism.To conclude, I must call attention to one of Spivaks quotes: “Jane Eyre can be read as the orchestration and staging of the self-immolation of Bertha Mason as ‘good wife’”. Imperialism is such a potent force; it manifested a century of incredible literature, shaped the socio-economic future of hundreds of nations, and was the driving force in so many outcomes of personal lives. In the story of Antoinette, Imperialism created the character that would eventually make Jane Eyre one of the most influential figures of English literature in history.
SOURCES:http://www. questia. om/PM. qst? a=o&docId=104313919 http://www.
hartford-hwp. com/archives/43/130. html http://www. docshare. com/doc/15212/Bertha-In-Jane-Eyre http://www. hmsf. org/exhibits/caribbean-collage/british. htm English Essay Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea is a powerful retold narrative of Jane Eyre’s Antoinette’s Jamaican youth and upbringing and eventual marriage to Rochester.
Rhys meanders back and forth from Antoinette and Rochester’s perspectives to illustrate the adversity Antoinette faced in her youth and what eventually amounted and triggered her insanity in Jane Eyre.Spivac wrote an essay regarding Wide Sargasso Sean and how the reader’s interpretation of a piece of a literature is just as valid as the author’s original objectives. This reading will evaluate how Antoinette transitioned from a naive and innocent little girl to a suicidal beast in Jane Eyre and how colonialism, British culture, and traumatic childhood contributed to this. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the era of colonialism settled upon the European nations as they competed for resources across the world.
Jamaica and the surrounding islands were quickly claimed by the British Empire for slaves, sugarcane, coffee, and bananas. With colonialism spreads Imperialism and soon the indigenous cultures were subject to British education, religion, government, and overall societal rules. Here ties in Antoinette’s story since she is the daughter of colonists in a Jamaican town torn by slavery and injustice.
Since the Emancipation Act in (some date), she had become very poor, ridiculed by her peers, sabotaged by her only friend, and eventually forced to leave her adored home by an angry mob.Yet, despite these difficulties, she was still a child and acted so. This is evidenced by her attitude toward life, her description of the Coulibiri garden, and her cut, yet ignorant inquisitions into life. Nonetheless, after her stepfather’s denial, burning of her cherished home, death of her brother, and eventual parental abandonment, she would b forever blemished by pessimism and torment as described by the “darker hair” metaphor. What caused this disaster? The colonialist fissure. The creation of a divide between white and blacks.Unfortunately for Antoinette, she did not belong to any category since she was not European and not black. She was trapped in a limbo, shunned by both parties, rejected by everyone except her devoted (well, almost) servants.
In the beginning if Spivaks essay, we can see her promote the influence of imperialism: “It should not be possible to read nineteenth century British literature without remember that imperialism, understood as England’s social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English”.Any psychologist, all DSM editions, or really any person with a modecal of psychological studies can agree that without proper parenting, a child will struggle. Spivaks thoughts on feminism further support this social establishment since a mother figure is so crucial for a proper upbringing. Antoinette lacked that mother figure and instead was forced to live. Even before the fire Antoinette was ignored by her mother and insignificant to her stepfather. Following the death of Pierre, her mother fell into a stupor of depression and madness, which forced Antoinette to seek another home.