My MA Thesis
Traumatic Experience of Antoinette & Annette in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of English, Hetauda School of Management
In Partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Ram Prasad Sapkota
Year of Admission 2008/09
Department of English
Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences
Letter of Recommendation
Mr. Ram Prasad Sapkota has completed his thesis entitled “Traumatic Experience of Antoinette & Annette in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea”, under my supervision. He carried out his research from Feb. 2012 to Sept. 2012. I hereby recommend his thesis be submitted for viva voce.
Mr. Dadhi Ram Poudyal Supervisor
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Central Department of English
Letter of Approval
The Thesis entitled, “Traumatic Experience of Antoinette & Annette in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea” submitted to Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences, Department of English by Ram Prasad Sapkota has been approved by the undersigned members of research committee.
Members of the Research Committee
_______________________ _____________ _______________________ Internal Examiner
_______________________ External Examiner
Hetauda School Of Management
Depart Of English
_______________________ _____________ _______________________ Internal Examiner
_______________________ External Examiner
Hetauda School Of Management
Depart Of English
The present dissertation would have been impossible to emanate in this form without the vision and guidance of Lecturer Mr. Dadhi Ram Poudyal, Head of English Department, Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences, Hetauda. I am grateful to express my deepest sense of gratitude to my "Guru" Mr. Poudyal, supervisor of my thesis; for his continuous supervision and encouragement, constructive criticism and invaluable suggestions during the period of writing.
I would like to express my hearty gratitude to Prof. Dr. Mr. Krishna Chandra Sharma, Dr. Shiva Rijal, the lecturers of English at English Department, TU for granting me an opportunity to carry out this dissertation.
I 'm indebted to Mr. Puran Bahadur Joshi, Campus Chief of Hetauda School of management and Social Sciences, who introduced MA in Hetauda and provided me an opportunity to study Masters in Arts in English Literature at my hometown. I would like to express my sincere thanks to my respected teachers Mr. Sarbagya Raj Kafle, Mr. Som Narayan Kafle and Mr. Krishna Acharya for their continuous encouragement on writing thesis.
I also want to express my sincere thanks to all my colleagues Mr. Dipendra Shrestha, Mr. Dinesh Devkota, Mr. Abishkar Poudel and others for their direct and indirect assistance. Finally, my greatest reverence goes to my parents: Balkrishna & Bimala Sapkota, my wife: Anusha Chapagain and my son: Jove Sapkota, whose sheer blessing and love have always proved to be a beacon of hope and energy, promoting me to ascend every ladder of my life, no matter how painstaking it may be !
September, 2012 Ram Prasad Sapkota
Table of Content
I. Trauma in the colonial context 1-12
II. Gender and Racial Trauma of Antoinette & Annette in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea 13-22
III. Traumatic Recollection in Wide Sargasso Sea 23-29
Iv. Resistance to Patriarchal –Colonial and the Racist Ideologies 30-36
V. Exploration of Trauma in Wide Sargasso Sea 37-47
VI. Traumatic Experience of Antoinette & Annette 48-50
Jean Rhys explores the traumatic experience of black characters caused by racial segregation and gender discrimination, in Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette is neglected and discriminated because of her Creole identity. So, she represents the pain, dislocation, madness, identity crisis, class discrimination and gender bias towards the colonized in the Caribbean society. Throughout the text, female characters are historically subordinated on the one hand, and they are victimized by gender violence on the other. Antoinette and Annette become victims of traumatic experience as they encounter various kinds of mistreatment and bias because of patriarchal code and conduct especially in the socio-economic scenario of nineteenth century England. Antoinette is treated as an animal, barbaric, irrational, monstrous, and abnormal being by her husband, Rochester. So, she expresses traumatic memory, feeling, emotion and torture to reduce the intensity of trauma. Black characters express that the contemporary society was gender-biased, racist and colonialist
I. Trauma in the colonial context
Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea explores the various themes like; gender discrimination, class discrimination, racial discrimination, suicide, decolonization and feminism, colonial mindset and so on. The female characters Annette and Antoinette have been exiled both culturally and sexually by white English people. The protagonist Annette had married white English man Mr. Mason. The marriage, however, seems to aggravate racial tension in their neighborhood. The novel starts with Mr. Luttrell’s suicide, a statement on the horror of the dispassion of the former owning-class of the island’s whites. Antoinette, Annette and Amelie are victimized by white British colonizers, and lived in their painfully, ambiguous limbo who belong or is accepted in neither the black nor the white community. That is why; they are physically and psychologically ambivalent in their natural dualistic state. The female characters’ choice of obsession is expression of tyranny, monomania, sexism, racism and madness. The contemporary society has gender bias, racial and colonial mindset of slavery system that makes the females victimized of traumatic experience.
The novel takes place in Jamaica and Dominica, West Indies during the Victorian period and deals with the racial politics between the whites and blacks in that country which was a British colony. The marginal women are exiled both culturally and sexually because of displacement from their native land. The novel explores the specific crisis felt from the period of the nineteenth century in England, through the present of dissolution of moral values. The research studies how gender trauma is experienced within a particular structure of society. The female characters Antoinette, Annette, Amelie, Christophine, include depression, anxiety, rage and rape by the white British colonizers. Annette married with second husband Mr. Mason who belongs to the white class. But the society could not accept their marriage because of racial discrimination. This research finds traumatic expression in the way Kali Tal points out that traumatic, “ symptoms almost always include depression, anxiety, rage, hyper-alertness or exaggerated startle response, in Sonia, guilt substance abuse, suicidal or homicidal thoughts, as well as emotional conflicts about trust, intimacy, authority, an isolation” (119). The traumatic symptoms are almost always depression, anxiety, and hyper-alertness or exaggerate response. Antoinette experiences harassment by her aunt Cora and her husband Rochester. Being physically and psychologically abused Antoinette and Annette become traumatized subjects. They feel humiliation since their self esteem is undermined.
The research focuses on the trauma of females by exploring the major socio-economic and cultural factors responsible in creating the traumatic effects upon women basing on the nineteenth century in England. Antoinette and Annette are in-between, products of multicultural heritage. Antoinette is a ‘Creole’ because of multicultural heritage and racial combination. Rochester seduces his servant Amelie, who belongs to black community. Rochester neglects his wife Antoinette after reading a letter written by Daniel Cosway. The family history was sexual degeneracy and mental illness in Antoinette’s family. She had previously been engaged to a colored relative Sandi Cosway. Thus, this project shows the racial and gender trauma by exploring the major social, economic and cultural factors which are responsible in creating traumatic effect upon women from the nineteenth century in England.
The project clearly shows that England had colonized culture and natural beauty of the other countries. Annette and Antoinette are colonized and displaced from Caribbean. Antoinette attacks her half-brother Richard Mason because of her madness. She reacts against him; she tells him not to help her marriage but actually he helps for her legal marriage. The writer shows the female characters is madness that is the product of patriarchy and colonialism. Here Antoinette saw a dream that sets fire to the entire house and she wakes up and escapes from her room. Male characters are always dominating the female characters in the novel. That is why; gender and colonial traumatic experience are explicit in Wide Sargasso Sea.
Trauma happens in different ways in an individual and in a group. The nature of trauma varies according to time and space. The factors like colonization and patriarchy play greater role in creating traumatic effects upon individual or people victimized. Carine Milkom Mardorossian in her essay “Double [De] Colonization and the Feminist Criticism in Wide Sargasso Sea” finds double decolonization and the feminist ideology. In this novels the evidence that social and political meanings of the text are not solely determined by the ideologies of the time of its production but are constantly reformulated in the process of their reproduction by critical discourse:
[…] Tia as cheating, hostile nigger and container for the self; Amelie as the lusty mulatto wench who hates the Creole; Daniel as the hateful mulatto and mirror image for the husband; Christophane as nurse, black mammy and obeah women. Who privileges the white child’s needs over her own self. And, at times, infantilizes the Creole women; the deletion of any autonomous “life” for the mulatto characters. (114-15)
Mardorossian discusses on double decolonization female characters in the novel. Tia is a black girl who hates the Creole. Here is a debate between black and Creole. The researcher finds gender discrimination and double decolonization in the novel. Women are both to general discrimination as colonial subjects and specific discrimination as racial cynicism.
Edward Bartha in his essay “Jean Rhys’s Historical Imagination: Reading and Writing the Creole” focuses that ‘Creolization’ is the process of ‘acculturation’ of black to white norms. Reciprocal and enriching ‘inter-culturation’ is stopped white-Creole lack of co-operation with and degrading of the black labor-force defected the possibility of alliance between two as well as the completion of creative process of creolization. He says:
Had the white Creole elite not demeaned it by debasing its labor- force, it might have been possible for British European Culture to have made a more racial contribution than it did to the process of creolization…. As it was, the white contribution to Jamaica remained structural only… and resulted… in the formation of cultural dichotomy… a further widening of the gap between elite and mass of the population. (24)
Barth focuses on multicultural relationship between the blacks and the white creoles. Here, both Antoinette and Annette are in the same position in ‘in-betweenness’ of their culture and racial location in the society. British people are guided by colonial mindset. They applied their culture, religion and racial domination in colonial country. Therefore, they pick up issues of gender discrimination, class discrimination and male domination.
Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea discusses on gender trauma. The nineteenth century period in England saw extremely gender biased social practice. Such situation caused trauma of gender in women... The protagonist characters themselves are in-betweenness. Furthermore, another critic Le Erwin in her essay “Like in a Looking-Glass: History and Narrative in Wide Sargasso Sea” describes that history and narrative ideology cropped in woman’s texts. In this regard Larry Neal remarks:
But when I looked over the edge I saw the pool at Coulbri. Tia was there. She beckoned to me and when hesitated, she laughed. I heard her say, you frightened? And I heard the man’s voice, Bertha, Bertha! All this I saw and heard in a fraction of a second. And the sky is so red. Someone screamed and I thought, why did I scream? I called “Tia”! And jumped and woke. (547)
The extract shows that Antoinette remembers blocking her union with herself in a childhood memory, while Antoinette and Tia were playing in the pond. At that time Antoinette wore Tia’s clothes because her clothes were hired by somebody. That is why; she becomes nervous when she wore black girl’s clothes. It shows racial discrimination or a gender bias between two friends.
Furthermore, Mary Lou Emery “The Politics of Form: Jean Rhys’s Social Vision in Voyage in the Dark and Wide Sargasso Sea talks about the social vision and politics in the novel. Here, women’s identity is ‘marooned’. The position of the woman is painfully split identity:
As I ran, I thought, I will be love with Tia and I will be like her …. When I was close I saw the jagged stone in her hand but I did not see her through it. I did not feel it either, only something wet, running down my face. I looked at her and I saw her face crumple up as she began to cry we started each other, blood on my face, and tear on hers. It was as if I saw myself like in a looking glass. (46)
Therefore, both Annette and Antoinette are exchanging themselves and their property for the social identity. Annette married the English colonialist Mr. Mason. This marriage, however, only leads to more conflict when a move of angry blacks set fire to Coulibri, destroying their home, killing Antoinette’s brother and driving her mother mad. It explores the gender discrimination and exploration of traumatic experiences in their marriage culturally even socially and racially they could not and fully support themselves.
Laura E. Ciolkowski in her article “Navigating the Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, and British Empire” researches the history of British colonialism in Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette follows in the path of the English man who routines elide the differences among the native people over whom he rules. Antoinette, her mother and a black servant incite her response that could just as easily have come from her estranged English husband:
I dismounted and ran quickly on the Veranda where I could look into the room. I remember the dress she was wearing- an evening dress cut very low, and he was barefooted. There was a fat black man with a glass of rum in his hand…. I saw his mouth fasten on hers and she went all soft and limp in his arms and he laughed…Christophine was waiting for me when I came back crying. “What you want to go up therefore?” she said, “You shut up devil, damned black devil from hell.” (107)
The extract focuses on colonial history of British. British colonizer shows the gap between male and female, race and class and white and black. Anticipating Rochester’s English imperialist reinvention of Antoinette as “Bertha Mason”, Antoinette endeavors reassert order by showing up between herself and others who surround her. Characters are inflicted gender and racial discrimination in the novel.
In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette marries with British landowner Mr. Rochester. Their marriage illustrates the violence of the racial discrimination. Here, Antoinette’s real name cannot be used. They call her Bertha. Antoinette’s psychological breakdown to unconscious expectations forces her into her marriage with Edward Rochester. The novel shows “in-betweenness” of the characters, setting and production of multicultural heritages. The pathetic conditions of the protagonists are caused because they are neither completely white nor completely black. That is why, traumatic psyche is in the character and they experience pain and suffering. Victorian society was class biased society. In addition, there was class discrimination. Women had not access to posse's property in the time and place where they lived. Masculine rationality enabling the creation and command of culture, female sensibility, while valued, required cultural embodiment in control. Such situation had dominated in the English society. In such a way women in that phase felt the gender trauma.
More than discussing trauma in strictly theoretical sense, this work takes it in a rather general sense. However, it inflicts its discussion of trauma with the prospective of gender discrimination, colonial politics, racial bias as well as gender and class discrimination. Moreover, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Sue Thomas’ historical postcolonial approaches of Wide Sargasso Sea have been brought in the discussion of trauma because their critical verdict is reverent in the sense that they pick up the issue of gender discrimination, class discrimination, colonial mindset, male domination and so on.
The novel draws a particular type of woman, in a particular cultural environment and particular point in history. The writer Jean Rhys opens the door to an open-ended universe, where everything is possible and everyone is capable of doing anything. That is why, it assumes about all aspects of reality, racial, cultural and psycho-sexual. The economic condition is poor. Annette marries with Mr. Mason as he is wealthy planter. The situation of family is desperate and violent group burn the house down. The novel challenges us to read the text critically for the untold stories of the characters that are marginalized because they do not fit into the dominant paradigm of what a hero or heroine ought to be.
The novelist finds fragmented perception and disjointed voices which present the modern experience of exile and the decentered self. The female characters resist social violence and degradation through dreams, hallucination, memory and madness. The contemporary society of the novel is not drastically changed because there is generation gap between the traditional society and modern society. The racial discrimination, gender issues, class discrimination are based on traditional figures of the society. If they were not discriminated there would not be any domination in the society. The characters slowly and gradually changed the traditional society. Pre-concept of the traditional system makes the society stereotypical.
The novel represents a major milestone in self-growth and awareness on the part of women as an artist, thinker and person. They challenge the contemporary society which is based on racial, cultural and gender discrimination. Annette and Antoinette decide to marry English white people who belong to the different culture, race and gender. The researcher attempts to analyze Wide Sargasso Sea from the perspective of gender and race trauma.
The term ‘trauma’ is a medical term of Greek origin denoting a severe wound or injury and the resulting after effects. Trauma refers to profound emotional shock or wound that creates substantial lasting damage to psychology of a person. Trauma theory as privileged critical category includes diverse fields with specific focus on psychological, philosophical, ethical, and aesthetic question about the nature and the representation of traumatic events. There is not only a single trauma but historical trauma, cultural trauma and psychological trauma.
Now, the researcher is going to present the theoretical ideas concerned with the gender trauma with the support of critics like Kali Tal, Dominik LaCapra, Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin and Urvasha Butalia. These critics discuss the nature of trauma that is concerned with sexual abuse, class discrimination, racial discrimination, sexual and culture violent interruption to their life. The critics relate this issue with the trauma in their discussion. Thus, their ideas are regarding trauma in relation to gender, racial and cultural issue.
The research points out the traumatic depression and anxiety. Antoinette expresses harassment by her husband Rochester and her mother Annette. She physically, mentally and psychologically becomes traumatized. Her mother married with second step-father Mr. Mason. That is why, she becomes alone. In the same way, Bertha is neglected by her husband Rochester. Thus, this project shows the gender trauma of females by exploring the major socio-economic and cultural factors responsible in creating traumatic effects upon women from the nineteenth century in England.
Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin explore “a gendered narrative of displacement and dispossession, of large-scale and wide-spread communal violence, and of the realignment and family, community and nationality as people were forced to accommodate the dramatically altered reality that now prevailed’’(9). Women’s status in the contemporary society “in between”, neither or nor that is why they are victimized in male dominated society. Their own existence cannot establish themselves.
The researcher points out trauma of gender in the sense that gender itself becomes the subject of trauma. Gender trauma brings the gender concerns describe issues male and female in foreground the novel. Psychological decline and performance provides an ideal starting ground for the relationship between gender and trauma. Trauma is an instrument to establish the concept of trauma of gender.
Kali Tal in her book “World of Hurt: Reading the Literature of Trauma” discusses trauma in strictly theoretical sense, however it inflects its discussion of trauma with the perspective of gender discrimination, colonial politics and racial bias as well as gender and class discrimination. She talks:
The victim of violence against women has no pre-atrocity consciousness, and interpretation of the event occurs in a mind which, at the same level, expects atrocity and has been prepared for it since birth. Internalizing blame is a natural consequence of growing up in a dehumanizing system. (127)
These lines point out the suppression of women about the sexual abuse, child abuse, repression of feeling, psychological decline, sexuality and domestic violence. Women relate the issues within their discussion. Thus, the ideas regarding trauma in relation to gender and colonial issues are explicit all over the text.
The present research discusses how trauma theory has been made fundamental tool. Tiffany Joseph’s “Non- Combatant’s Shell- Shock” is a theorization of trauma and, an instrument to establish the concept of trauma of gender. Tiffany Joseph puts her views:
This hostility, uncertainty, and insecurity ignited tension already present within to perform gender ideas, it was becoming increasingly unclear what that performs should look like interrogate the ways that gender is traumatic and the ways that trauma is gendered brings the gender concern describe above to the foreground, and the novel’s pre-occupation with mental illness, psychological decline and performance provides an ideal starting ground for my questions about the relationship between gender and trauma. (66)
The given lines explore gender trauma that is based on male and female, colonizer and colonized and master and servant. While exploring the trauma of gender in the novel, it is required to see preoccupation with mental illness, psychological decline and performance.
The present research cannot be completed without presenting Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin’s theorization of the “violence, the vulnerability or victimhood, elided the many years that has passed in between (18).” In the present novel Wild Sargasso Sea the characters Antoinette and Annette are in ‘in between’ position. Antoinette calls her as ‘white cockroach’, because she was born as mixture of white man and black woman. Here the theorist Ritu Manon and Kamla Bhasin point out, “it is true that the colonial state had been compelled by social reforms to address the issues of widow remarriage and child widow and so intervene in social and cultural practice (149).” Here these lines explain British colonizers’ mentalities who want to dominate the colonized woman. Mr. Mason marries Annette because she is colonized woman. In Border and Boundaries women are in pathetic condition in their society. They have been victimized and traumatized by colonizers.
The research is divided into three chapters: Introduction, application of gender trauma to Wide Sargasso Sea and conclusion. The first chapter is the general discussion of the concept of gender trauma in colonial context. The introduction of the text, the major issues have to be analyzed, literary review and specification of the major theorists of gender and colonial trauma. In the second chapter, theoretical framework of trauma of gender and colonial application of the tool in the text is to be proved. Presenting the different statements from the critics like Kali Tal, Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, and Urvashi Butalia in the concluding chapter, basic finding of the research is maintained of the above two chapters.
II. Gender and Racial Trauma of Antoinette & Annette in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea
This research focuses on the trauma of gender in the reading of Wide Sargasso Sea. The major characters emphasize the exploration and interpretation of traumatic experience in the context of patriarchal social structure in the Victorian society. Basically, the characters, Antoinette and Annette’s trauma of gender are studied in this research paper. The masculine ideology functions in such a way that black women are severely affected in every sphere of the society. Women face the problems like racism, sexual abuse, physical and emotional torture, social restriction, and powerlessness, deprivation of social and political, colonizer and colonized, and economic privilege in the male dominated society. A woman is raped but the rapist escapes without punishment in the gender biased society. Black women are obliged to hide the reality in order to protect her from social criticism. In this way, women have been victimized since the time immemorial. As far as Victorian society of England is concerned, it was entirely male dominated society. Males were all in all. Males are at the top position in the spheres like education, politics, bureaucracy, church, trade and commerce. The contemporary society has gender bias, racist and colonial mindset that made the female victimized of traumatic experience. Therefore, women in Victorian society are far back in comparison to men. Women lived in strict society in terms of social norms and values, religious rites and rituals.
Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is written in the meaning of gender and ethnicity, sexuality and national identity, mentioned socio-economic and cultural context. In the novel, Rhys portrays female character Antoinette as the protagonist of the novel. Antoinette narrates her traumatic experience since her childhood up to her adulthood. In her narrative, she describes every event which is remarkable in her life. In English colonial society women are straddled between the divide of human and savage, core and periphery, self and others.
Antoinette describes that she was physically and emotionally tortured since she was a Creole, poor, and less attractive child. In Victorian period property and beauty were highly valued. Antoinette’s position in the society is neither white nor black. Antoinette’s position is fragmented. Kali Tal in her book Worlds of Hurt states that domestic violence on women, brutal attack becomes usual practice and that is the major cause of their trauma of gender. She writes, "Each of the traumas discussed has as its victims a certain groups of persons definable by characteristics of race, sex, religion and geographical location" (124). Kali Tal talks about the victim of race, sex and religion. In the case of Antoinette she is victimized by white British colonizers. She has no chance to escape because Victorian society of England is male dominated society. Antoinette describes her accounts of physical and emotional torture in the following excerpt:
I (Antoinette) never looked at any strange Negro. They hated us. They called as white cockroaches. Let sleeping dogs lie. One day a little girl followed me singing, Go away white cockroach, go away, go away. I walked fast, but she walked faster. White cockroach, go away, go away. Nobody wants you. Go away. (20)
Antoinette is chased by a white woman. This victory of a junior girl over senior girl is what culture has taught him. The "white cockroaches" as they are scornfully called by the blacks, are truly displaced persons, unable to employ the new labor force. She lives in the painfully ambiguous limbo of the person who belongs or is accepted in neither the black nor the white society. Black people are double marginalized in the contemporary society because a little white girl chases senior white girl. The existence of black people is painful, they have no identity, value and meaningless. A girl is singing a song which she cannot understand. Within colonial mentality, a girl follows her and sings a song to go away, go away, go away white cockroach. Antoinette has been psychologically and physically victimized. In this regard, Kali Tal writes:
The speech of survivors, then, is highly politicized. I "telling it like it was" threaten the status-quo; powerful political, economic and social forces will pressure survivors either to keep their silence or to revise their stories. If the survivor community is a marginal one, their voices will be drowned out by those with the influence and resources to silence them. (7)
Kali Tal argues that marginalized group of community is highly politicized because there stand as statuesque, political, economic and social power. Black people are colonized by English white people. That is why; it focuses on the interaction between survivors as individuals.
Antoinette is dominated by her husband because of his colonial mentality. That is why, she is victimized. Antoinette is physically and mentally tortured in the following way:
[Antoinette] was undecided, uncertain about facts – any fact when I asked her if the snakes we sometimes saw were poisonous; she said "Not those, the fer de lance of course, but there are none here", and added, "but how can they be sure? Do you think they know? Then, “our snakes are not poisonous of course not”. (88)
As a male victimizer Rochester’s tortures his wife about her place in the world is already underway. That is why; she falls under the undecided and uncertain facts. Here, the symbolic meaning of a snake is unseen form of colonizers. The nineteenth century in England is seen extremely gender-biased social practice. Such situation causes trauma of gender in the women. Originally, victim’s silence is figured in terms of social censorship; women remain silent because they have lost the capacity to talk in public place. It is an externally imposed silence. This conceptualization still holds for many, with victim’s silence still figuring because of social censorship manifest in any numbers forms, explicit and implicit. Judith Herman in her book Trauma and Recovery states that domestic violence on women, brutal attack becomes usual practice, and that is the major cause of their trauma of gender. She writes:
Rape, battery, and other forms of sexual and domestic violence are so common a part of women's lives that they can hardly be described as outside the range of ordinary experience. As it currently stands, then, PTSD still does not fit accurately enough the symptoms associated with the brutality quotidian experience of sexual and domestic violence, the latter of which is often far more complicated because the victim finds it difficult to escape. (119)
Herman discusses on the victim of domestic violence that is difficult to avoid. Amelie has no chance to escape because all members of servants hate her. She is a slave, who does not own land and home. That is why, she cannot do anything.
White Englishman rapes the black servant. Amelie describes her accounts of physical and emotional torture in the following excerpt:
‘Yes, master. Yes master’, she answered softly, dropping her eyes.
But as soon as she was out of the room she began to sing.
The white Cockroach she marry
The white cockroach she marry
The white cockroach she buys young man
The white cockroach she marry. (91)
Amelie presents aggressively with her master Rochester because he rapes her at his home. Antoinette and Rochester quarrel because of letter written by Daniel Cosway about the history of Antoinette. On the angry mood Rochester seduces his servant Amelie who belongs to a black community. She unknowingly expresses her traumatic pain through singing a song. She tries to get relief from the dominated society but cannot because the Victorian society of England as the male dominated society. That is why; gender discrimination is intensified by colonialist ideology.
Women cannot do anything whatever they like, they do not have their own existence. That is why, they depend upon the male. Males are all in all. Women's’ position in the society is very pathetic. In the context of Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette states how women are supposed to appear in the house, society, and in social gathering. Moreover, male wishes to confine woman within domestic affairs. They have given very genuine works that earn least from the economic perspective. Here, she presents Rochester's narrative to critique the nature of works allowed by the men, Antoinette critiques:
I tell you no. I tell you it’s nothing. You make her unhappy she doesn’t know what she is saying. Her father old Mister Cosway swear like half past midnight- she pick it up from him. And once, when she was little she run away to be with the fisherman and the sailors on the bayside. Those men! She raised her eyes to the ceiling. 'Never would you think, they were once innocent babies. She comes back copying them. She doesn't understand what she says. (141)
Women are trained to be submissive, demure, obedient, faithful and always active to obey the command given by men in the Victorian society. The fact that women's lives are defined by the ideology of domestic arena is acknowledged, unvalued, and invisible in economic statistics, largely explains their resource less status and points to some radical ways of tackling the problem. Women are confined to the domestic arena- a space where men rule over them as heads of the family while men spend most of their time in the public realm.
Antoinette's relationship with Tia might have fixed her identity within the native Caribbean culture, the fracture of their friendship again capsulate Antoinette into racial ambiguity. Antoinette's narrative is shaped by the uncertainties of navigating the boundaries between white British colonialism and West Indian culture. Tia belongs to a black community. That is why, there is gap between white British colonialisms and West Indian colonized people. Antoinette indicates regarding race she internalizes and the fissures of her identity:
A white Cockroach: That's me. That's what they call all of us who were here before their own people in Africa sold them to the slave traders. And I have heard women call us white nigger. So between you I often wonder who I am and where is mu country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all. (102)
Antoinette is neither English nor ‘native’, and she must negotiate the divide between subject and object, center and periphery, self and other. The economic collapse of the Caribbean after the 1830s transformed the planter class into disenfranchised "white niggers" and "cockroaches", which forced them outside the rank of the new community of non-slaveholding English colonials.
Urvashi Butalia in her book Other side of Silence comments upon the culture, race and political system which continues till now. She says:
Women experiences from those of others political non-actors to enable us problematic the general experience of violence, dislocation and displacement from a gender perspective? How do we approach the question of identity, country and religion, of the intersection of community, state and gender? (11)
The rationalization is that women's reproductive roles make them biologically and naturally predisposed to receiving the children and taking care of the domestic sphere. Males dominate women's experience in the public sphere. By demonstrating particularly the complexities of women's position as subalterns under colonial hegemony, they navigate to the margins of history where women's stories have been exiled and move them to the center of literary discussion. Claiming female characters slaves recording their undocumented histories allow Caribbean women authors to illustrate the intricate connections between genre, gender and race. Originality of woman in position is not existence. They are displaced and dislocated because of patriarchy and colonialism.
British colonizers hate white Indian in different ways. They sing a song which cannot understand other colonized people. Antoinette states:
Did you hear what that girl was singing? Antoinette said I don't always understand what they say or song or and things else. It was a song about a white cockroach. That's me. That's what they call all of us who were here before their own people in Africa sold them to the slave traders. And I have heard English women call us white niggers. 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 will you go now please. (93)
It is clear that Antoinette is not quite English and not quite native. Rhys's Creole women straddle the embattled divide between human and savage, core and periphery, self and other. They say, “when trouble comes close the white people did, but we were not in their ranks" (17), is researcher opening invitation into the borderland of the post emancipation West Indies. And yet, while the dramatic collapse of the Caribbean plantation economy in the 1830s succeeded in transforming the class of affluent Creole planters into economically and culturally disenfranchised "white nigger" and "cockroaches" locating them outside the ranks of the new community of non-slave holding English colonials. It does not succeed in fully severing Creole’s stubborn attachment to England. A woman is colonized racially and culturally. Both share the politics of oppression and repression. Antoinette's opinion:
The boy was about fourteen and tall and big for his age, he had white skin, a dull ugly white covered with freckles, his mouth was negro's mouth and he had small eyes, like bits of green glass. He had the eyes of a dead fish. Worst, most horrible of all his hair was crinkled a Negro's hair, but bright red and his eyebrows and eyelashes were red. (44)
The boy is a hybrid body- half Negro, half white – simply cannot contain the copious signs of racial and degeneracy. White skin, Negro mouth, the colors of white man and the textures of his debased Negro counterpart are carelessly shown together here into the corporeal pattern for the Creole grotesque. And sins of such “unnatural’’ subjects are everywhere; "the yellow sweating face" (125) of the bastard son who calls himself "Daniel Cosway, the sexual appetite of Antoinette's "colored" cousin Sandi, who allegedly lusts after Antoinette and returns to complete the incestuous circle of colonial degeneracy. The unequal relationship between men and women as well as colonizer and colonized is in the form of unequal distribution of power in both England and Jamaica.
In Worlds of Hurt: Reading of the Literatures of Trauma, Kali Tal argues that literature of trauma consists of only the writing of victims and survivors of trauma. "Literature of trauma", writes Tal "is defined by the identity and explicates literature by members of survivor groups and to deconstruct the process by which the dominant culture codifies their traumatic experience” (17-18).
Traumatic events are thought to involve victimized of the threat of victimization. Events such as witness, violence, unprovoked physical attack rape, physical, emotional or sexual child abuse and even the sudden death or disabling illness of a loved one are those generally considered to be traumatic. Traumatic events in particular way lead to a multitude of symptoms, including depression anxiety, guilt and obsessive thought about the victimization experience.
Antoinette and Rochester arrive in the boundary of 'Granbois', Antoinette smiles at him. It is the first time she smiles simply and naturally. They are in Dominica, for their honeymoon and discuss on the significance of the place to live. They are enjoying each other near the sea. Unfortunately she sees:
A group of Negros was standing at the foot all the veranda steps. Antoinette ran across the law and as I followed her I collided with a boy coming in the opposite direction. He rolled his eyes, looking alarmed and went on towards the horses without a word of apology. A man's voice said, ' Double up now doubles up. Look sharp.' There were four of them. A woman a girl and a tall dignified man were together. (65)
Antoinette explicates the racial, gender and colonial discrimination in the contemporary society. When Antoinette collies with a boy, he rolls his eyes looking alarmed. He does not apologize for her. The fact is that woman’s life is defined by the ideology of domesticity. The nineteenth century society asserts that males are superior and females are inferior. Antoinette cannot speak with him. There is no matter what the woman says and how much she protests. It is true that a man's voice 'doubles up now double up’. Look sharp! It clarifies that males’ voice is superior, no one can counter argue his voice. It is the commanding voice by men in the Victorian society. Women's voice is submissive, demure and docile.
Wide Sargasso Sea exposes the dominant imperial and patriarchal ideologies and denaturalizes the one charismas by which they construct their black others. Antoinette, Annette and Christophine undergo the injustice like gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and physical assault, psychological pressure, racial discrimination by the patriarchal social norms, values and behaviors in the context of nineteenth century in England.
III. Traumatic Recollection in Wide Sargasso Sea
The present project shows the traumatic memory of the characters especially Antoinette, Annette and so on. Trauma effects on the multiple personalities, paranoia, anger and sleep problem and difficulty trusting people and difficult relationship. Antoinette marries with Rochester. They decide to celebrate their honeymoon in Granbois. When they engage in their honeymoon in Granbois, share their past events on traumatic memory. Traumatic memory illuminates an emerging domain of social responsibility and political action. In so far as the identity the cause of trauma, and thereby assume such moral responsibility members of collectives define their solidarity relationship in ways that in principle allow them to share the suffering of others by denying the reality of others suffering often project the responsibility for their own suffering on those others. Annette’s husband was already died. No one can help her social, economical, and other factors of the social norms. She lived with her child. The family is financially ruined. They are ostracized by both black and white communities in the Island. Annette married with Mr. Mansion. Antoinette lived with her aunt Cora. Her aunt behaves her as a cruel. She cannot read well because her aunt behaves her indifference. Her brother Pierre died because of burned house. That is why, she memories traumatic memory in her life.
The memory is an integral of part of a trauma theory and analysis. Amelie, Antoinette and Rochester have a lot of memories, flashing out from nowhere. The researcher takes example of Antoinette who remembers her days at journey from Jamaica:
Oh no 'she sounded shocked. Not slaves. Something must have happened a long time ago. Nobody remembers now'. The rain fall more heavily, huge drops sounded like hail on the leaves of the tree, and the sea crept stealthily forwards and backwards. So this is massacre. Not the end of the world, only the last stage of our interminable journey from Jamaica, the start of our sweet honeymoon. And it will all look very different in the sun. (60)
The extract shows that Rochester and Antoinette are going in their honeymoon in Granbois, the Cosway estate outside massacre Dominica. She remembers the flashback event that is heavy rainfall and sea crept stealthily forwards and backwards in the same time to kill large number of people in the journey from Jamaica. Here, the researcher points out trauma of female characters in a novel. She even thinks she deserves it. She surrenders to her plight like a traumatized person. Amy Hungerford in “Memorizing Memory” points out desire of dream through the memory of presence. She remembers:
Memoir reveals how our desire for such memories of difficult lives has created an atmosphere conducive to fraud, but I want to suggest there is more to be said about the relation between the phenomenon of false memoir and the common interest in trauma . . . memoir has become a form that has a certain culture presence and worth. (68)
Hungerford discusses the memory of characters that reveals the desire. Traumatic memory is imbedded deeply in the psyche of characters. The survivor victims undergo trauma. Immediately, it appears after the event triggers psychologically and unburdens the pain and horror. Through the analysis of trauma that reawakening flashback of traumatic expressed in the form of dream. Antoinette expresses her dream:
Again, I have left the house at Coulibri. It is still night and I am walking towards the forest. I am wearing a long dress and thin slippers so I walk with difficulty, following the man who is with me and holding up the skirt of the dress. It is white and beautiful and I don't wish to get it soiled. I follow him, sick with fear but I make no effort to save myself; if anyone were to save me, I would refuse. This must happen. Now we have reached the forest. We are under the tall dark trees and there is no wind. Here? He turns and looks at me, his face block with hatred and when I see this I begin to cry. He smiles slyly. (54)
Antoinette expresses her dream to give presence to what is temporally altered; it is only on waking that one’s damaged temporality of the event is realized. A disjunction is positioned between what is seen in the present and what is felt as a murmur in the past. The nightmare emerges a plane of non-experience, structured around the logic of displacement. The nightmare is an opening, into the presence of being as trauma and objection but to the articulation of mute and void, devoid of here and now. The site of memory is symptom rather than direct emergence of traumatic past consisting the notion of memory as being contained by place, to materialize the phenomenon of nightmare. Antoinette's nightmare of being in the camp comes to act as a bridge between the qualities for the realm in its manifold appearance. The ruin appears in an ambiguous border between waking life and dream that has a persistence in which the sleep of memory collides and co-exists with the conscious of daylight. Antoinette expresses:
While I am drinking it if remember that after my mother's funeral very early in the morning, almost as early as this, we went home to drink chocolate and eat cakes. She died last year. No one told me how and I didn't ask. Mr. Mason was there and Christophine, no one else. Christophine cried bitterly but I could not. I prayed but the words fell to the ground meaning nothing. (55-56)
Antoinette expresses traumatic feelings and perceptions of her mother's funeral early in the morning. The events come from the anxiety of keeping it repressed. She is haunted by psychic trauma because they quarrel on issue of a letter. She becomes very angry and drinks alcohol. Then she memorizes in fragmentation of the past and it implicit traumatic psyche. Her mother died very early in the morning that affects traumatic shock, pain and tension of her mind. While her mother died there was no any response from other characters. She is careless and her voice is marginalized. Mr. Mason is there but he is indifferent to her. That is why, traumatic memory haunts Antoinette.
The word ‘Other’ is introduced into the European world in terms of sex, class, gender and race origins, and is often given a different status; marked sometimes as savagery, sometimes as madness, and at others by a transgress sexuality. By showing the complexities of women's position as subalterns under colonial hegemony, they navigate to the margins of history where women's stories have been exiled and move them to the center of literary discussions. Claiming their female characters selves and recording their documents, histories allow Caribbean women authors to illustrate the intricate connections between genre, gender and race.
LaCapra, in his essay “Trauma, Absence, Loss,” describes recovery from trauma as a process of separating absence from loss, where loss involves a particular historical event and absence the perception of something as missing that was never present to being with conflation or confusion of these is a part of traumatic experience, but could also result from inappropriate in identification with another's loss, mistaking felt absence for experienced loss. Failure to properly distinguish between these two has disastrous consequences. As LaCapra writes:
When absence is converted into loss, one increases the likelihood of misplaced nostalgia or utopian politics in quest of a new totality or fully unified community. When loss is converted into (or encrypted in an indiscriminately generalized rhetoric of) absence, one faces the impasse of endless melancholy, impossible mourning, and interminable Apria in which any process of working through the past and its historical losses is foreclosed or prematurely aborted. (728)
LaCapra further says that treated as loss, absence pushes witness to fill voids that cannot be filled through retaliation or through misplaced identification with real victims. Alternately, a witness or victim may choose to preserve the void and revisit the site of perceived historical loss with compulsive regularity.
Rochester and Antoinette take dinner together. They are enjoying each other drinking alcohol and taking about flashback events of their marriage. There is not light in the room, the room is full of shadows. They discuss on ghost which is terrible and horrible. There is Christophine who knows about the ghost. Antoinette remembers:
I woke in the dark after dreaming that I was buried alive, and when I was awake the feeling of suffocation persisted. Something was lying across my mouth; hair with a sweet, heavy smell. I threw it off but still I could not breathe. I shut my eyes and lay without moving far a few seconds. When I opened them I saw the candles burnt for a few seconds [...] I was cold too, deathly cold and sick and in pain. I got out of bed without looking at her, staggered into my dressing-room and saw myself in the glass. I turned away at once. I could not vomit. I only retched painfully. (124-25)
Antoinette's dream of her memory or subconscious that is formed through the system of language and its conventions gets expressed in her words. Antoinette wakes up terribly and suffocation perishes. She is traumatized by the deliberate efforts to remember crucial to the process of reconstructing their life stories. Though the memory blocks and a constructed, numbed awareness helps ward off this painful experience, many survivors are drawn, often unconsciously to return to the place and people associated with their traumatic past. When Rochester and Antoinette talk about the ghost and she memorizes painful events expressed through dream.
In Wide Sargasso Sea, the protagonists Antoinette, Rochester, Annette and Mr. Mason remember traumatic memory. They join in traditional rituals and social ceremonies that help them to find the place in the community. Antoinette highlights the traumatic memory. Traumatic memory hunts the viewer tellingly and undercuts the temporal continuity. A person who is a hunted by the traumatic memory becomes helpless and rootless. Antoinette lost her native land and was dislocated. To explore their identity as sympathetic portrait of a Creole madness caught in an oppressive colonial, gender, race and patriarchal society in which she belongs neither to the white nor to the black. That is why; she memorizes the traumatic memory in Wide Sargasso Sea. Annette becomes very sad because her son is injured and their living house is set on fire. Annette pushes her daughter Antoinette and says "Let me alone" (20). Antoinette is frightened with her mother. She runs and spends most of time in the kitchen with Christophine. She goes to bed and sleeps at once. She has a dream:
I dreamed I that was walking in the forest. Not alone. Someone who hated me was with me, out of sight. I could only hear heavy footsteps coming closer and though I struggled and screamed I could not move. I woke crying. The covering sheet was on the floor and my mother was looking down at me. (24)
After admonishing Antoinette for calling out, Annette returns to her son, who physically mirrors the emotional incapability of Mason, for whom she also sacrifices. Although Antoinette is alone and afraid, she must not speak, must never complain or inquire in accordance with the cultural prescription that mandate women’s silent submission. Antoinette remembers, "I woke next morning knowing that nothing would be the same. It would change and go on changing" (27). She tries to imagine herself as a sage within the house. She expresses the traumatic memory and remembers footsteps coming closer thought. Antoinette screams and cries. She is psychological traumatized. But her mother is looking down her behaviors what does she do at night. Nightmare is an exposure of deep memory that stands as an indeterminate lacuna in the region of refilled memory and rational ordering. Memory is a searching, remembering the collective past only. Antoinette memorizes the childhood, dislocated native land and colonial, racial, and gender discrimination in the Victorian society in the England.
IV. Resistance to Patriarchal – Colonial and the Racist Ideologies
The researcher focuses on resistance to patriarchal-colonial trauma in relation to gender, race, class and race in nineteenth century. Patriarchal society describes women as subordinate, docile and verbal abuse in the society. Males are using several tools including culture, law and religion as a domain of male hegemony. The female characters Antoinette, Annette and Christophine resist male’s rule and regulation, religion, culture and dominant mentality of male in the public sphere. Females are the ‘other’ in patriarchal society. That is why; women are avoided by the ideology of male in the society. Patriarchal-colonial is an exploration of the intersections of gender, race, class and different contexts of women. Though such an enterprise is necessarily multi-disciplinary in scope, like other, patriarchal colonial and racist ideologies, it primarily inhabits the discursive space of cultural studies. Sometimes it is taken as a form of feminist theory which centers on the idea of racism, colonialism, and the long lasting economic, political and cultural effect of colonialism in the colonial setting. The contemporary Victorian society is gender biased racial domination and class discrimination. That make the protagonist are victim of traumatic experience. That is why, the protagonist female characters are racist the nineteenth century male dominated society.
In Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette is seemingly ‘natural’ incapacity for rational thought is no longer reduced to a concept of essential femaleness. According to which, by virtue of her gender, her way of knowing is subjective and function is a simple opposition to masculine rationality. It symbolizes the colonial subjects' resistance to British domination. Antoinette’s impressionistic and fragmentary narrative tempers with and trivializes notions of history and the ordering of time which is Eurocentric way of thinking. Rochester’s perceptions and values are identified as reflection of European system. He renames his wife “Bertha”, domesticates in terms of class, as well as of sex, gender and race and confines her to an attic, the other space against which his English house can define itself. Antoinette resists his masculinity and imperial enterprise, however, by rejecting the ominous name by disturbing temporal succession and contiguity. Through the analysis of female characters, who are dominated by male in the Victorian period. England is inflicted with patriarchal and colonial mindset. Such attitude affected women caused gender of trauma. That is why females are traumatized in the contemporary society.
Antoinette tries to resist passively by means of love potion; she procures from Christophine to charm an indifferent husband. English law has forced Antoinette to hand her entire fortune over Rochester, Chrishophine urges her to go to Martinque where she might buy time for her husband to want her back. Antoinette’s response starkly underscores her Creole helplessness:
Going away to Martinique or England or anywhere else, that is the lie. He would never give money to go away and he would furious if I asked him. There would be a scandal if I left him and he hates scandal. Even if I got away (and how?) he would force me back. So would Richard. So would everybody else. Running away from him, from this island, is that lie. What reason could I give for going and who would believe me? (113)
Antoinette leaves her house when Rochester victimizes her. Antoinette is imprisoned even before her confinement in thorn field. Rochester is already disguised with his wife’s sexuality; Christophine’s love potion only reinforces his poisonous racism so that Rochester becomes Antoinette’s plutocratic tormenter and furious. Rochester tries to force back her home but she knows Rochester sleeps with his servant Amelie; one by one the angered servants live and a marooned Antoinette breaks down. Antoinette becomes traumatized while she knew all the events .Christophine brings rum to help her sleep, loosens her tongue, but that rum represents the final and sole means left for her to mitigate traumatic events.
Antoinette is indifferent towards Rochester. She aggressively says slavery is not a matter of liking or disliking. It is a matter of justice. Antoinette’s position in contemporary society as a Creole has made her chimera of truth and justice. Rochester, while he retains a colonist’s power to extinguish her like the large white moth hovering over the candle in Granbois. Antoinette’s wish for her father’s pre-emancipation hegemony to protect her from the consequences of loss of money, loss of land, loss of identity:
If my father, my real father, was alive, you would not come back in a hurry he‘d finished with you. If he was alive, do you know what you have done to me? It’s not the girl, not the girl. But I loved this place and you’ve made it into a place I hate. I used to think that if everything else went out of my life I would still have this, and now you’ve spoilt . . . I hate it now like I hate you and before I die I will show you how much I hate you. (132)
Antoinette is angry with her husband Rochester. Rochester does not show any response for her. She frequently attacks on the patriarchal and colonial ideologies. Females are characterized by the fact of their exchange of male domination in the Victorian society. She thinks that her father was lived; Rochester could not go there and dominate her. Her father died for British colonization. Antoinette resists to male desire, regardless of class, ethic or location, or contradiction, and implies a notion of gender or sexual differences of patriarchy which can be applied universally and cross-culturally. That is why; she hates Rochester and says Women are not always dominated, subordinated and docile to patriarchal and racist ideologies in the nineteenth century in England. Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin in the book Borders and Boundries find resistance to patriarchal-colonial and racist ideologies. The position of the women is shown least important. Regarding to male ideology:
[…] A woman has no religion- her only religion is womanhood. She gives birth, she is a creator, she is god, and she is mother. Mothers have no religion, their religion is motherhood. It makes no difference what they are, whether they are Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims or Christians . . . we went to sleep on the night of October 31st, worried about what would happen the next day. (243)
By saying the words, she feels uneasy and traumatized. The position of women is marginalized. They do not have an original identity and existence as well as no religion required. Women are a creator, they give birth to children. Their religion is motherhood. The patriarchal society expects the female on a domestic angel and treats them inferior in the society. Males are represented as the more powerful victimizers. Antoinette reduces traumatic experience through of her mind but it is not easy for her because contemporary society already guided by the male ideology. Antoinette is displaced from her native land Jamaica, madness identity and religion. She marries with Edward Rochester who belongs to a white community. That is why, she loses her own religion, culture, race and ethics. Antoinette positions as a ‘Creole’. She neither belongs to the white community nor to black community. All the events are manifested the ambivalence regarding the significance of the historical events. So, she faced problems as racial discrimination and gender discrimination in the contemporary society. Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin are violent male patriarchy ideology in the contemporary society.
Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea has not only answered and exposed the complexities of this new, strange Creole identity, but in the process has challenged the British Empire and uncovered the difficult plight of women, specifically this new hybrid women who is neither clearly British nor a native to the islands. This novel exemplifies the issue of women in the colonial society that includes issues of identity, lack of independence in a male dominated society and the formation of hybrid or new identity. Instead of being a loving husband, Rochester is cruel and even challenges her identity by calling her Bertha. Rochester uproots her along with her fortune to England where he keeps her hidden in the attic until finally, she sets the house on fire and jumps from the roof tops. Antoinette expresses her own traumatic psyche because of abnormal actives in her home.
The displacement challenges the status of the stable and unified ego that, in Victorian novel and experiences, depends upon the organization of sex and gender in a distinct separation of public and private worlds. Antoinette and Annette live in in- between those dichotomies, sexuality ambivalent figures acting in a collage of outer and inner experience. Seemingly passive victims, they resist social violence and degradation through dreams, hallucination, memory and madness. The formal devices the structure those apparently subjective events allow the women to create and re-create their displaced selves. Defiantly refusing is a one dimensional reduction of identity. Rochester has a colonial mentality and dominated black women. He does not ready to call real name of her wife ‘Antoinette’. Antoinette and Rochester are discussed on how to improve her behavior. At that time he laughs and she says:
'Don't laugh like that, Bertha.'
'My name is not Bertha; why do you call me Bertha?'
'Because it is a name I'm particularly fond of – I think you Bertha:
It does not matter she said I said, when you went off this morning where did you go? I went to see Christophine she said, I will tell you anything you wish to know, but in a few words because words are house, I know that now'. (112)
There is dispute between Rochester and Antoinette to call the name Bertha. Bertha is not a real name of Antoinette. Rochester also has dominant mentality for the other colonized country. Antoinette resists or counter argues the statement of Rochester. She replies "My name is not Bertha why do you call me Bertha." This line indicates women are as strong as their husband. They are against the traditional patriarchy and supremacy of British colonizer in nineteenth century. They get right their life liberty and per suit of happiness. The protagonist characters Annette, Antoinette, and Christophine overwhelms their gender bias, race, culture and sex in the contemporary society. On the basis gender of trauma is experienced with in a particular structure of society. Such situation of patriarchal social structure is dismissing. Antoinette's final act of self-liberation is described as follows:
I dropped the candle I was carrying and it caught the end of table cloth and I saw flames shoot up. As I ran or perhaps floated or flew I called help me Christophine help me and looking behind me I saw that I had been helped. There was a wall of fine protecting me . . . don’t know what I would have said, or done in balance everything. (154)
Antoinette is a positively clear choice of freedom through the purgation of fire. She wants to be alive freely; there is not any restriction to live from domain group in the contemporary society. But actually she tries to remove traumatic experience through the resistance. She challenges her husband Rochester who guides British colonial mentality. That is why, it shows the gender of trauma in the female characters.
Slaves are freed in their racial conflicts, gender, social and economic turmoil that surrounded the Victorian society. That is what women are free and supposed to appear in the house, society and in social gathering. In nineteenth century society males are free to roam any places. The conditions of women are in the society as subordinated and marginalized. Therefore, women resist to patriarchal-colonial, racist ideologies and gender discrimination in the novel.
V. Exploration of Trauma in Wilde Sargasso Sea
The novel Wide Sargasso Sea is defined by its blackness and by the surrounding of white society that both violates and denies it. Physical violence and psychological violence is dominated in the novel. The brutality of the social, gender, racial and cultural violence is depicted through the British characters. The characters are revolving under the periphery of the gender and racial violence of trauma.
A traumatic event overwhelms the ordinary human adoptions to life. Traumatic events generally involve threats to life or bodily integrity or a close personal encounter with violence and death. The brain is not able to fully assimilate or process the event and response through various mechanisms such as psychological numbing, or shutting down of normal emotional responses emotional responses. Sometimes, in situation of extreme stress, a dislocation takes place, the subject splits off part of itself from the experience producing multiple personalities. There is not only single trauma but traumas-historical trauma, national trauma, individual trauma, betrayal trauma, cultural trauma, and gender trauma. Gender trauma is experienced with particular structure of society. The contemporary Victorian society is gender biased; racist society makes the protagonist a victim of traumatic experience. Wild Sargasso Sea manifests its two major narratives, Antoinette's and Rochester's, settler woman and metropolitan man respectively. It begins to appear that whereas Antoinette sees her own displaced deracinated condition in terms of historically specific shifts in class and economic power, the Rochester figure refuses these categories and instead interprets racial difference in moral and sexual terms, especially in terms of miscegenation and contamination.
Antoinette narrates her childhood her black playmate friend Tia, Tia is a “cheating nigger", she responses:
She hear, said she hear all we poor like a beggar. We ate salt fish no money for fresh fish that old house so leaky, you run with calabash to catch water when it rain. Plenty white people in Jamaican Real white people, they got gold money. They did not look at us, nobody see them come near us. Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and back bigger better than white nigger. (23)
Antoinette and Tia are friends. Tia is a black girl but Antoinette does not discriminate with her friend Tia. There is not any cultural, religious, gender and colonial discrimination. Tia calls Antoinette as "white nigger" and Antoinette calls Tia as cheating nigger. But in the underline level there is not gap between Tia and Antoinette. They seem friends to each other. Antoinette and Annette are poor because of death of father. That is why, family is financially ruined: "The black did not hate us as much when we were poor we were white but we had not escaped and soon we would be dead for we had no money left. What was there to hate"? (24) Black people also did not hate them because while their house was burn and they are houseless and no money. The pathetic condition is easily reduced through the narrativization of trauma. Annette, Antoinette and Christophine are narrativizing their experiences in the novel Wide Sargasso Sea.
Ron Eyerman in his Slavery and Formation of African American identity writes:
Trauma refers to a dramatic loss of identity and meaning a tear in social fabric affecting a group of people that achieved some degree of cohesion. In this sense, the trauma need not necessarily be felt by everyone in a community or experienced directly by any or all. While, it may be necessary to establish some events as the significant. (2)
According to this definition, trauma is embedded in the psyche of those people who have been eye witness of the brushed incidents. The medical profession has quite logically approached trauma in its most severe manifestation, the collection of symptoms that persistently troubled a person for a month a longer after a traumatic event.
In Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette narrates the linear time of history which is inevitably recalling the history of slavery to consciousness before the emancipation Act, which is not go into effect for another year after its enactment in 1833 and even the decreed from four to six years further memory of slavery. She memorized her father's death. This speech is duplicated in her mother speech: "Why do you pester and mother me about all these things that happened long ago?" (20). White English people attack Antoinette presents with an image of horror, gruesome and violence. She sees:
[…] One day, very early, I say her horse lying down under the frangipani tree. I went up to him but he was not sick, he was dead and his eyes were black with flies. I ran away and did not speak of it for I thought if I told no one it might not be true. But later that day, Godfrey found him, he had been poisoned. Now we are marooned; my mother said, now what will become of us? (13)
The violence is death of a horse which is poisoned. There is not any reason who killed a horse to put poisoned him. Antoinette runs with near a horse and he was already died. She cannot speak and is worried about to look at the situation. But her servant, Godfrey found him he had been poisoned. The situation is distractive action. Antoinette is psychologically traumatized by the death of her horse. Dominike LaCapra raises the issues of literary canonicity, in his theoretical text Trauma Theory, Dominike LaCapra argues:
Traumatic experience is understood as a fixed and timeless photographic negative stored in an unloadable place of the brain, but it maintains the ability to interrupt consciousness and maintains the ability to be transferred to non-traumatized individuals and groups. Moreover, this concept of trauma perceives responses as fundamentally pathological and privileges the act of speaking or narration as the primary avenue to recovery. In other words, presenting trauma as inherently pathologic perpetuates the notion that all responses to any kind of traumatic experience produce a dissolute consciousness. (7)
Traumatic experience is a situation which is fixed and timeless and it stores in an unloadable place of brain. But it maintains the ability to express non-traumatized and groups of the mind. Narrating traumatic memories is an effort to make sense not only of the past but of the present as well. In narrating the traumas they have experienced, people are trying to establish a sense of continuity between past and present and they come to terms with the reputes in their selves.
Traumatic body memories result in the fragmentation of lived body. Annette's son Pierre who is injured in burn of house, a Spanish Town doctor came frequently to treatment for him. Annette likes him. She recalls:
[…] A Spanish Town doctor to visit my younger brother Pierre who staggered when he walked and could not speak distinctively don't know staggered when he walked and could not speak distinctly. I don't know what the doctor told her or what she said him but he never came again after that she changed. Suddenly, not gradually, she grew thin and silent, and at last she refused to leave the house at all. (17)
Annette’s heart and spirit are broken, she begins to exhibit song of emotionally weak, confused and unbalanced women. Instead of being a pursuit a Spanish town doctor, Antoinette's brother Pierre, who cannot speak well and honesty. They frequently talk to each other. Unfortunately there is a dispute between them. Later, a doctor never comes in the house. Slowly and gradually she becomes thin and silent. That is why, Annette suffers from traumatic memory. Antoinette narrates her mother’s traumatic sublime in the novel Wide Sargasso Sea.
Dominick LaCapra in Writing History, Writing Trauma, focuses the three psychoanalytic topics acting out verses working through; the return of the repressed; and the semantic of transference. A traumatic historical event, La Capra argues, " first to be repressed and then to return in from of compulsive repetition" (21). LaCapra points out certain value in acting out as he says:
If there is no acting out at all, the resulting accounts of historical trauma will be that teleological redemptive fetish zing that denies the trauma's reality it happened, but it had no lasting effects; look, we are all better now, even better than before. This situation creates a more/less unconscious desire with in trauma. (21)
The extract shows that if there is no acting trauma will be historical and that events and development meant to achieve or purpose to protect from dangerous evil. So, it comes to the particular object. But, in acting out is not long effects even better than before. The most pervasive concern of LaCapra's is transference. Transference is the occasion for working through the traumatic symptoms:
The process of working through including mourning and modes of critical thought and practice, involve the possibility of making distinctions or developing articulations that are recognized as problematic but still function as limits and as possibly desirable resistance to undesirability, particularly when the latter is tantamount to confusion and the obliteration or blurring at all distinction. (22)
LaCapra points out working through of trauma is more precisely, its recurrent symptoms, is to move from shock to experience to the extent that this movement is possible. He defines loss situation at level of historical event. So, LaCapra develops memory as a method of appropriating to historical loss. LaCapra emphasizes especially West Indies women face the problems of acknowledging and working through historical losses. Antoinette and Richard are discussing on the marriage of Rochester. She blames Richard, who didn't help of her marriage. After all she feels:
Antoinette was very pale and shaking all over, so I gave her the smelling salts on the dressing-table. They were in a red glass bottle with a gilt top. She put the bottle to her nose but her hand dropped as though she were too tired to hold it steady. Then she turned away from the window, the sky, the looking glass, and the pretty things on the dressing table. The red and gilt bottle fell to the floor. (104)
Antoinette feels sad about the discussion of her marriage with Rochester. She tells her step father’s son Richard who does not help in her marriage but actually he helps for her legal marriage. Antoinette’s husband Rochester gives her smelling salts on the dressing table she unknowingly becomes very angry she careless of her husband what he tells to do anything. She looks outside from the window. She tries to go away from them that attempts become fruitful as assimilating their way of behaviors.
But she can neither totally avoid nor totally reject her individual rules by rejecting the value system of society nor totally rejects her individual rules. Dominick LaCapra expresses his view of historical trauma:
Narration, including experimental narrative, play an important role here, especially in engaging post traumatic symptoms of limit events and experience, but so many other forms such as the lyric or essay as well as per formative modes including ritual, song and dance . . . which one is haunted or possessed by the past and per formatively caught up in the compulsive repetition of traumatic scense. (118)
The experience of trauma is bound up with its belated effects or symptoms. Narrating is including the historical traumatic event. Characters are recalling historical event with relation between historical trauma and any text. Literary text might be the site of symptom combined with critical acting out or working through. Characters are expressing their modes including rituals song, and dance. Annette decides to marry with English man Mr. Mason. While they marry each other, they come home from honeymoon in Trinidad and they dance:
[… ]There was no need for music when she danced. They stopped and she leaned backward over his arm, down till her back hair touched the flagstones. Still down, down. Then up again in a flash, laughing. She made it and he kissed her- a long kiss . . . I was there that time to but they had forgotten me and soon. I was not thinking of them. (27)
Annette and Mr. Mason dance together. Annette narrates her marriage. There is no need for music because in her family there is a financial crisis. Her son Pierre dies because of the fire at home. In the English society, English people married for property. Annette's mother who portrait of the person seen the apocalypses, the changing of an era, a world and society. Before Annette marries there is vast gap between white people and black. But her marriage slowly and gradually challenges nineteenth century male dominated society.
Rochester narrates search for the 'truth' that leads him not only to an artifact of the past but to yet another father and another scribal legacy. Rochester makes love to Amelie suggests a final attempt across the 'thin partition' dividing them from her bedroom, where he knows she is lying and hearing all. No wonder then that afterwards he finds Amelie's skin 'darker her lips thicker than he had thought and that he has "no wish to touch her" (54). Rochester’s narrative is finally affected in the identification with blackness or condensation of black and white that Antoinette's narrative enacts at the end. Instead of permitting a prohibited desire expression, however, by attaching it to some apparently innocent representation this narrative seems to enact censer of his desire.
Dominick LaCapra gives a historical approach to trauma that includes the particularity of historical wounds while recognizing the way to guide past continues to shape our current experimental and conceptual landscape. However, the past and in looses would also be subject to a collective process of mourning, 'working through' and moving that is continuous re-traumatization and allow us to turn to future-oriented ethical and political projects. In this sense he says:
[…] Acting out in which one is haunted or possessed by the past and per formatively caught up in the compulsive repetition of traumatic scenes- scenes in which the past returns and the future is blocked or fatalistically caught up in a melancholic feedback loop. In ‘acting out tense implode, and it is as if one were back there in the past reliving the traumatic scene. […] ‘working through’ is an articulator practice; to the extent one works through trauma (as well as transfer trial relation in general), one is able to distinguish between past and present and to recall in memory that something happened to one (or one’s people) back then while realizing that one is living here and now with opening to a future.(21-22)
The traumatic events link past to present through representation and imagination. In acting out, a tendency to relieve the past in the form of dream or hallucination creates trauma. But working through includes both back there and here at the same time and one can easily distinguish them. Working though as the medium of remembering traumatic event, includes the channelization or obliteration of such traumatic acting out. The process of working through includes lamentation or mourning of critical thought or practices that are recognized as traumatic ones. LaCapra prefers ‘working through’ of trauma to ‘acting out’ because working through helps traumatized community to decrease the intensity of trauma, whereas acting out, intensifies traumatic burden. Christophine narrates Antoinette’s mother’s madness. Annette's madness, neglect, isolation and heart break in attempt to appeal to Rochester emotion, but it was useless. He also dislikes Christophine. Christphine says there is no God. But Rochester counter argues there is a spirit which discuss in Bible. She says:
Only my spirit, ‘she said steely’. In your Bible it says, God is a spirit – it don’t say any others. Not at all. It grieves me. What happen to her mother and I cannot see it happen again you call her a doll? She doesn’t satisfy you? Try her once more. I think she satisfy you now. If you forsake her they will tear her in pieces – like they did her mother. (148)
This extract clearly shows that the pattern of repetitious abuse, neglect and isolation that drove Antoinette’s mother to madness and she’s desperately using her power of persuasion and attempts final arguments. Antoinette is a Creole girl and very different from British girls, she is not satisfied. He is a Creole girl, and she has the sun in her' (143). But Rochester cannot understand Antoinette’s passionate and emotional personality. There is opposite opinion both of them. That is why, Christophine convinces Rochester reaction of Antoinette is even stronger.
Rochester makes a plan to have Antoinette declared insane and confined. He is indifferent towards her. He hates her. Rochester becomes angry and says:
She lifted her eyes, blank lovely eyes, mad eyes, a mad girl. I don’t know what I would have said or done. In the balance everything But at this movement the nameless boy leaned his head against the clove tree and sobbed loud heart breaking subs. I could have strangled him with pleasure. But I managed to control myself, walk up to them and say coldly, ‘what is the matter with him? What is he crying about?’ (154)
This excerpt digs-up the issue of gender trauma. Rochester blames his wife Antoinette. Antoinette takes several drinks because of her madness. He blames women and asserts his superiority to Antoinette. The Victorian England is extremely gender biased. Such situation causes trauma of gender in women. But Antoinette controls herself and manages to reduce the intensity of trauma through narrativization. She cannot hear what he says. Antoinette exists herself as a strong. Slowly and gradually she tries to fight against the English society. She establishes herself as a woman. Antoinette reduces the burden of trauma in Wide Sargasso Sea,
To sum up, the protagonist characters – Antoinette, Annette and Christophine undergo the injustice like gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and physical assault, psychological pressure, racial discrimination by the patriarchal cum colonial social norms, values and behaviors in the context of Victorian Society in England. Characters are physically tortured, psychologically repressed, economically suppressed, socially unrecognized and exposed in humiliating domestic arena. All the traumatic experiences are expressed through distortion and exaggeration because of the biases and politicizing tendency of the patriarchal cum colonial society. These factors implicitly make them traumatic because of all above mentioned injustices that prevailed in the context of Victorian Society.
VI. Traumatic Experience of Antoinette & Annette
Focusing on the issue ‘trauma of gender’ caused by the gender biasness, racist attitude, class prejudices, and male domination, colonial and cultural values are analyzed in the novel Wide Sargasso Sea. The researcher analyzes the pain, dislocation, madness, identity crisis and class discrimination of gender bias female characters in nineteenth century in England. The protagonist characters Annette and Antoinette become victims of traumatic experience as they encounter various kinds of maltreatment and biasness because of the patriarchal code and conduct especially in the socio-economic scenario of nineteenth century in England. Female characters Antoinette and Annette are victimized by white British Colonizers, and lived painfully and ambiguous. The contemporary society was gender biased, racist and colonialist mindset of slavery system that made the female victimized of traumatic experience.
The novel Wild Sargasso Sea explores and interprets traumatic experience in the context of patriarchal social structure in the Victorian society. Women face the problems like racism, sexual abuse, psychological and emotional torture, social restriction, and powerless, deprivation of social and political, colonizer and colonized and economic privilege in the male dominated society. Male are at the top position in the spheres like education, politics, bureaucracy and commerce. But women live in strict society in terms of social norms and values, religious rites and rituals. A woman is raped but rapist escapes without punishment. Therefore, traumatized protagonists bring into awareness of specificity of trauma is connected to larger social factors and cultural values. Antoinette is boycotted from social interaction and even with her relatives. She was neglected and discrimination because of her Creole identity. She is treated like animal and her personality as well as her manner was defined as a barbaric, irrational and abnormal being. Through the analysis of female characters, this researcher finds that male being in the nineteenth century of England was inflicted with patriarchal and colonial mindset. Such attitude affected women and cause the gender of trauma.
The protagonist characters are traumatized and memorized traumatic affect on multiple personalities. Traumatic memory illuminates and emerging domain of social responsibilities and political action. Antoinette expresses traumatic feeling and suffering and social norms and values in contemporary society. Traumatic memory is embedded deeply the psyche of characters. Antoinette has reawaking flashback of traumatic experience and form of dream. Antoinette and Annette lost their native land and dislocated. They explore their identity as sympathetic portrait of a Creole madness caused in an oppressive colonial, gender, race and patriarchal society in which she belongs neither to the white nor the black. That is why, they memorize traumatic memory in Wide Sargasso Sea.
The Victorian society was abruptly inflicted the sense of wealth, privilege, power and beauty. Male thought they were intellectual, knowledgeable, experienced, rational, authorized person of the society. Males restrict women feelings, emotions, needs and aspirations in the contemporary society. That is why, gender discrimination, class discrimination in religious affirmation to give birth to psychological and emotional torture and such torture becomes a type of trauma especially in the case of woman in the nineteenth century of England.
In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, the protagonist characters are tries to resist the patriarchal colonial with gender, race, class, in the nineteenth century in England. In the same society male repressed the women as subordinate, silence, docile and verbal abuse. British colonizers dominate West Indies in the cause of power, religion, race, class and culture. Rochester calls her wife ‘Bertha’. Bertha is not her real name that is why she is neglected and discrimination because of her Creole Identity. She is against the traditional patriarchy and supremacy of as British colonizers in the Victorian society.
This research paper explores the brutality of the social, gender, racial, and cultural violence depicted through the British characters. The characters are revolving under the periphery of the gender in racial violence of trauma. The contemporary Victorian society is gender biased, resists society that makes the protagonist a victim of traumatic experience in Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette narrates the linear time of history which is evitable recalling the history of slavery to consciousness before the emancipation act. There is not only single trauma but traumas-historical trauma, cultural trauma, gender and racial trauma. Gender trauma is experienced with particular structure of the society. The society which devalues woman’s skill, capacity, and moral strengths is likely to produce a kind of trauma in them which reduce the burden of gender and race trauma.
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