Colonialism and Empire

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  Colonialism/Empire:   1.   Examine the manner in which the nineteenth century novel reflects contemporaryconcerns and anxieties about issues of empire and colonisation. Jane Eyre & Dracula. Key words: Uncanny, “the other”, double, colonialism, Oriental, oppression, oppressors andoppressed. Franz Fanon, Edward Said, and Homi Bahbah- all which argue that westerndiscourse of colonialism is constituted by the other subject  – by race, colour or ethnic srcin.Jane Eyre- While the novel has long been recognized as an exploration and critique of theposition of women in nineteenth- century society, more recently critics have begun to seequestions of racial and ethnic differences as central to the novel. Jane and Rochester areunable to marry because Rochester is already married to Bertha Mason, a Creole woman from the West Indies. This woman who is mad is locked up in Rochester’s attic. In the novel there are representations of race, which could be considered a form of textual consciousness: likerepressed contents of the Freudian unconscious, they repeatedly return in disguised form.Racial and ethnic differences become apparent especially in the flirtatious courtship between Rochester and Jane. At one point Jane sees Rochester’s smile and says: “I thought his smilewas such as a sultan might, in blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched.” This image of sultan and slave develops into a whole discourse on slavery and racial otherness. Rochester: “I would not exchange this one little English girl for the Grand Turk’s whole seraglio-gazelle- eyes, houri forms, and all!” Jane takes offence at the comparison and thinks:“The Eastern allusion bit me again.”   “And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for so many tons of flesh a nd such an assortment of black eyes?” (Rochester figures the racially other as sexually active and even passionate, whilst at the same time being available for purchase, like goods brought at amarket.-Commodities, slave trade, sexual exploitation of women and young girls) Jane replies “I’ll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach liberty to them that are enslaved - your harem inmates among the rest.” Ironically Jane has to gain her financial independence and her freedom from what Rochester calls her “governessing salary” when she inherits a fortune derived, from what we can only assume, from the slave-trade of the West Indies. Moreover although she seriouslycontemplates it, she does not finally leave England with St John Rivers when he asks. Mostimportantly, however, this passage presents us with an intresting discourses on sexual desireand racial otherness.Jane herself is repeatedly figured in terms of resisting both her own sexual desires and the financial temptations of Rochester’s w ealth: her sexuality is governed by self control and shecannot be brought.  Jane Eyre also has references to slavery which brings into mind questionsof sexuality and gender, race and economics. Slavery in effect is the buying and selling of thedehumanized racially other, Jane not only gains her financial independence after inheriting afortune made in the Caribbean, where slavery had been the main source of wealth but shealso her social independence which comes with her wealth. The novel also figures slavery  through metaphors of chains and imprisonment. For example, Rochester expresses a desire to imprison Jane when Edward, touching his watch guard says that “when once I have fairlyseized you, to have and to hold, I’ll just - figuratively speaking- attac h you to a chain like this”. The phrase marks a textual anxiety concerning the precise status of slavery in the novel andthis anxiety is compounded by the fact that while Rochester is ironically, flirtatiouslythreatening Jane with enchainment, incarcerated in his attic, imprisoned in chains is his wife,the racially other Bertha.The novels representations of race: The first time that the reader sees Jane and Bertha is acrucial moment. Jane and Rochester are prevented from marrying by the revelation that he isalready married. Rochester, tells Jane the truth and in order to excuse his attempted bigamy takes her into the attic to look at Bertha, she is described as: “In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or humanbeing, one could not, at first sight tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched andgrowled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered in clothing, and a quantity of dark,grizzled hair, wild as a ma ne, hid its head and face.” Bertha is not presented as a woman but“the other” of humanity, unrecognizable as human, a beast with a purely animal physiognomy. Almost invisible, Bertha cannot be seen. Invisibility and dehumanization weobserve is a condition of racial otherness. Bertha is disregarded by Rochester hides her fromview of everyone so that no one knows he is married, because for Rochester Bertha embodies the very idea of difference, Rochester explicitly contrasts Bertha with Jane: “look at the difference! Compare these clear eyes with the red balls yonder-this face with that mask-this form with that bulk.” By contrasting the two women Rochester makes it clear that Bertha should be understood as the other of Jane. However what is also being asserted is theirlikeness as both Jane and Bertha are women and are both also imprisoned (Bertha by chainsand Jane by society) and the two women are both partners of Rochester. Thus Bertha can besaid to be what Jane is not but could end up being.Figures of  “the other” which are represented as a threat to Englishness or/and whiteness appears in many English Literature such as Othello, Dracula etc.
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