The impact of race and gender on Antoinete’s identity

The blacks call her White cockroach’ and the whites refer to her as White Niger. Antoinette is not white enough for the Europeans and not black enough for the natives. Antoinette is a descendant of English slave owners. This fact Increases the tensions between her family and the Islanders. Antoinette strives to find a true Identity, but unfortunately she falls. Her identity is fragmented because of her race and gender Madam Syrup argues that identity is shaped by simultaneous operations of social dynamics such as race, class, nation and gender.
She affirms that identity is determined through two different ways: the outside and inside. The outside of our identity Is how others see us. The Inside of our Identity has to do with our vision of ourselves. 14) Identity Is not a flat description of our personality, but It takes Into consideration different perspectives of the self in order to construct a coherent Hall states that cultural identity should proceed from the past to image. Understand its present formation. He defines cultural identity as a state of being as well as of becoming.
It is not fixed in history but rather it is a subject to transformation, fluid change and constant development under certain circumstances. Hall says that we should recognize the other side the differences and hybrid as a part of our cultural Identity because the common history can unify people across heir differences but cannot show exactly who they are. (395-397) Hybrid is an important issue in post-colonialism. It is used to interpret what it means to be a hybrid, belonging to no place.

These hybrids live “border lives’ on the margins of deferent nations, In-between contrary homelands” (McLeod, 217). In fact, living In-between multiple Identities leads to, an ambivalent state of mind where there is no stable place or home. Bah also describes hybrid as “the sign of the productivity of colonial power, its shifting forces and fixates; it is the name for the tragic reversal of the process of domination through disavowal Hybrid is the revaluation of the assumption of colonial identity through the repetition of discriminatory identity effects” (Bah 112).
Bah clarifies that hybrid identity Is produced by the colonial power and cannot exist without a common history of a migrant who is dispossessed, schizophrenic, exiled, often profoundly unhappy and exploited under capitalism. ” (384). In Wide Cargos Sea, Antoinette suffers from hybrid. She struggles to find a clear direction to follow. Antoinette is neither black nor white, but somewhere in-between Europe and the Caribbean. This creates her an uncertain and fragmented identity.
Anta Loom describes in Colonialism/Postcolonial how race and gender provide metaphors and images for each other in the colonial arena: “In short, lower races represented the female’ type of the human species, and females the ‘lower race’ of gender” (161). Loom explains how in colonial texts both non-Europeans and women were viewed as being either passive, child-like and needing leadership or as sexually aberrant, emotional, wild and outside society (159). From the beginning of the colonial period, female bodies symbolized the conquered land. Loom, 152) The definition of woman as the other’ and the object’ has been determined by the principles of patriarchy. Benjamin claims that the prevailing idea about women in the Victorian age is that “Woman was considered to be in the full flourish of femininity in the service of home, husband, and children. Women drew on domesticity, the Joys of motherhood, and the influence it accorded them in Justifying public activity. ” (15) So, it is clear that women were always regarded as ‘objects’ belonging to men.
This pushed women to seek their individual identity. Spiral defines women at that time as ‘Third World Women’. In this respect, Madam Syrup says: ” Spiral argues that the idea of the Third World is monolithic entity and that people should fight against such labeling. ” (164) Moreover, Madam Syrup maintains: The ‘Third World Woman’ is not allowed t speak; she is caught between patriarchy and imperialism, subject-constitution and object- formation, between continuously tradition and modernization. She is rewritten as the object of patriarchy or of imperialism. 165) The patriarchal system made Antoinette seem as a zombie and object in the hands of her husband. She was subordinate to her husband for financial safety, after losing re inheritance. Wide Cargos Sea is a tale of a weak Creole whose struggle for identity leads her to madness (Fayed, 225). Antoinette is defined as a monster by her English husband and does not have voice in Jane Rye. However, Rays wants to change this fact by allowing Bertha to speak and defend herself against “the onslaught of a strong male such as Rochester” (Fayed, 226).
Emery says in this context: “In Wide Cargos Sea, the madwoman silenced in Jane Rye speaks, and her voice exposes and turns upside down the values, patriarchal and colonialist, upon which the plot and the characters of Bronze’s novel depend. (168) Spiral also states that “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. ” (242). Emery Cocoas Mason Rochester places herself as lost somewhere in between the two central figures of her life” (35).
Fayed argues that Antoinette emphasis on the opinions of the “Judgmental they ” of society indicates her lack of an autonomous self that can grow independent of others’ prescribed notions regarding her Creole background (226) Drake describes Antoinette triumph at the end of the novel “her ultimate regaining of an identity stolen by cultural imperialism. ” (205). This essay will show the impact of gender and race on Antoinette identity. Antoinette classification as a mixed product of Caribbean black and European white races contribute to the fragmentation of her identity.
Antoinette and her mother experience alienation by the black community and their white European counterparts whose political power and wealth allow them to maintain significant influence over Caribbean society. Antoinette suffers from race problems in both of her childhood and adulthood. Since early childhood, Antoinette family is despised by the people around them because of their background as slave owners: “l never looked at any strange negro. They hated us, they called us white cockroaches. Let sleeping dogs lie. (Rays 13) Rays presents the post-Emancipation Jamaica as a significant period in the Caribbean history. The Abolition of Slavery Act means the death of Antoinette family members because it declined their economic status: “Why probably? ‘ the other voice said. ‘Certainly. ‘ ‘Then why should he marry a widow without a penny to her name and Collier a wreck of a place? Emancipation troubles killed old Cocoas? Nonsense – the estate was going downhill for years before that. ” (Rays 17) Antoinette returns to her previous social class after the marriage of her mother with Mr… Mason.
Antoinette recounts numerous instances of black violence against her family, ranging from the hate-inspired labels of “white cockroaches” and “white naggers” to the vicious black mob’s burning of the estate at Collier . Antoinette makes efforts to identify herself as a black girl. After Mr… Mason becomes her stepfather, she tries to assert her blackness again by calling him: “white pappy’ (Rays 20). Moreover, Antoinette attempts to search for social acceptance by black people through her interaction with a black playmate named Tia: “Soon Tia was my friend and I met her nearly every morning at the turn of the road to the river. At the river, Tia calls Antoinette White cockroach’ and steals her clothes. Because of this theft Antoinette is forced to wear Tit’s left dress. Tit’s dress is symbolic of Antoinette desire to be like Tia. When Antoinette returns home and puts on another dress, it rips. This explains that her old identity no longer fits. Nothing fits Antoinette: her original dress has been stolen, ND her new dress rips. When her house is burnt, she thinks that Tia is the only hope left in her land. Later on, Antoinette discovers that she will never be like Tia because of her race.
Therefore, her attempt to be black Caribbean fails: Then, not so far off, I saw Tia and her mother and I ran to her, for she was all that was left of my life as it had been. We had eaten the same food, slept side by side, bathed in the same river. As I ran, I thought, I will live with Tia and I will be likelier. Hand but I did not see her throw it. I did not feel it either, only something et,running down my face. I looked at her and I saw her face crumple up as she began doctor. We stared at each other, blood on my face, tears on hers. It was as if I saw myself.
Like in a looking glass. (Rays 27) Antoinette cannot find an identity that suits her and this lack of belonging means her inability to assimilate to the Caribbean culture. In her adulthood, Antoinette begins to doubt her right to claim the island as a part of her identity. She later conveys these feelings of uncertainty and desperation to Rochester when she tells him, “l loved [the island] because I had nothing else to eve, but it is as indifferent as this God you call on so often. ” (Rays 78). Antoinette tries to gain acceptance among whites in order to form her identity.
When Antoinette marries Rochester, she feels an increasing love for him. She refuses to leave him for the simple reason that “he is my husband after all” (Rays 66). Antoinette expresses to Christopher her deep love for Rochester and asks her for an obey potion in order to keep her husband beside her. In “Race and Caribbean Culture,” Sandra Drake mentions that “Antoinette wants to use the spell to complete her assimilation to England and to whiteness. “(198) When the potion ultimately fails to produce her desired effects, Antoinette is forced to recognize her non-whiteness as well as her non-blackness.
Christopher states to Rochester, “She is not b©k© like you, but she is b©k©, and not like us either. “(Rays 93) For Rochester, Antoinette and her mother are seen as White naggers’ who do not belong to English culture: “Long, sad, dark alien eyes. Creole of pure English descent she may be, but they are not English or European either. ” (Rays 39). In the midst of two different cultures and nations, Antoinette cannot find any place of her own: “And Vive heard English women call us white naggers. So between you I often wonder who I am and where is my country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all. (Rays 61) Like Tit’s dress, the white dress (England) does not suit Antoinette. It is clear to Rochester that though she is of English descent, she is still different: “She was wearing the white dress I had admired, but it had slipped untidily over one shoulder and seemed too big for her. ” (Rays, 76)Antoinette relationship with Rochester reveals that she does not really belong to her mother country. Antoinette otherness and race leads to the demise of her relationship with Rochester. Rochester begins to treat Antoinette cruelly and seeks to control her identity.
Although Antoinette is eventually imprisoned within the dark, frigid confines of Threefold Hall, She finally realizes the impact of her homeland and Christening’s teachings on her character. Antoinette is a Creole woman living in a society dominated by male colonizers, like ‘Rochester’. After her marriage, Antoinette displays a sense of estrangement and uncertain cultural identity: “So between you I often wonder who I am and where my entry is and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all. ” (Rays 61).
Rochester seeks to possess Antoinette identity through exploiting her money, changing her name and uprooting her from her familiar land. Me, or so she thinks. I looked down at the coarse mane of the house… Dear father. The thirty thousand pounds have been paid to me without question or condition. No provision made for her (that must be seen too). ” (Rays 41) “Everybody know that you marry her for her money and you take it all. And then you want to break her up, because you Jealous of her. ” (Rays 92) In fact, Rochester doe not love Antoinette.
He only shows gratitude for her because she has given him money: You are safe, I’d say. She’d like that- to be told you are safe. Or I’d touch her face gently and touch tears. Tears- nothing! Words-less than nothing. As for the happiness I gave her, that was worse than nothing. I did not love her. I was thirsty for her, but that is not love. I felt little tenderness for her, she was stranger to me, a stranger who did not think or feel as I did. (Arrays) The deprivation of love and happiness that Antoinette experiences during her marriage contributes in fragmenting her personality.
After her marriage, Antoinette loses all her fortune. She is unable to free herself from Rochester’s brutality because she has no financial independence. Her money goes automatically to her husband without stipulation: “He will not come after. And you must understand I am not rich now, I have no money of my own at all, everything I had belongs to him. “(66) Antoinette is then obliged to remain with him because she has no other choice. In fact, Rochester aims at possessing Antoinette self and destroying her identity. Changing her name is another measure taken by Rochester to destroy
Antoinette identity. Antoinette succumbs as a slave to Rochester when he begins to call her Bertha. She refuses to be called by other names, and tries to defend her identity, but she fails: “When I turned from the window, she was drinking again. ‘Bertha’, I said Bertha is not my name. You are trying to make me into someone else, calling me by another name. I know that’s obey too. “(88) By calling her with different names, Rochester wants to crash her personality and transform her into an object, a doll: ‘”She tell me in the middle of all these things you start calling her names. Marionette.
Some words so’. Yes, I remember, I did’ (Marionette, Antoinette, Marionette, Antoinette) ‘That word mean a doll, eh? Because she don’t speak. You want to force her to cry and to speak. ” (Rays 92-93)His inhumanity and cruelty leads him to undermine her and consider her as a zombie: Main, silly creature. Made for loving? Yes, but she will have no lover, for I don’t want her and she will see no other… She’s mad, but mine, mine. ” (Rays, 99) Sandra Drake mentions: “If she[Antoinette] had married Sands Cocoas, she would not have lost either of her names, for she and he array the same family name. (198-199) Rochester dislocates and uproots Antoinette from her familiar land: “She said she loved this place. This is the last she’ll see of it. ” (Rays 99)He drives her to an unknown place where she finds out the feeling of non-belonging and displacement. “l get out of the bed and go close to watch them and to wonder why I have been brought here. For what reason? There must be a reason. ” ( Rays, 106) Antoinette does not feel England collapses. “They tell me I am in England but I don’t believe. We lost our way to England. When? Where? I don’t remember, but we lost it. Rays, 107) Antoinette dislocation makes her mad and takes away any chance to establish a stable identity for herself. Despite Rochester’ imperialist effort to erase all aspects of her identity, Antoinette masterfully creates a new sense of self within her. At last, Antoinette realizes her submissive situation and wakes up from her deep sleep. She achieves her freedom and puts an end to her sufferings. When she dreams of burning Threefold house, she was therefore liberating herself: “Then I turned around and saw the sky. It was red and all my life was in it. I saw the grandfather clock and Aunt.

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