Detection of the 19th century british imperialism and the anatomy of their superlative traits: a comparative study between charlotte bronte’s jane eyre and jean rhy’s wide sargasso sea

Farhana Haque

The aim of this paper is to trace the elements of British colonialism and their superlative traits over their subordinate people. This paper will unfold the embedded colonial spirit in the works of the Nineteenth century British novel Jane Eyre. To do so i have chosen the two quintessential English novels, such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre(1847), and its prequel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) written by Jean Rhys. The first novel was belonged to the Victorian period and the second novel Wide Sargasso Sea will help us to know how the colonial subjects or colonial others has been oppressed by the British colonizers. Through the post colonial text like Wide Sargasso Sea we could see that how far the supremacist ideologies has been ingrained in literature. For example, in the novels Jane Eyrewe could able to see how the identity of the Colonizer has been created by the depiction of colonial other. Charlotte Bronte hasbeen exhibited this beautifully in her novel JaneEyre.If we attempt to detect the history of British imperialism there we will see the expansion of British colonies and simultaneously parallel with the British concern for a national identity, arising mostly in the Eighteenth Century. With the colonization of the Caribbean Islands and the other subsequent British satellites, identity within the British Empire became even more complex. This reinforced the need for a distinction to be made between the multicultural, colonized British subjects and the racially, culturally and religiously homogenous Britons who possessed the coveted “Englishness”. Such idea of English superiority found its voice in the narratives of English novels, especially in those which were written during the Romantic and the Victorian period which was the primetime for the British imperial conquest. As i have given my settled goal of tracingcolonial predisposition and the anatomy of their superlative traits i have designed my paper with some important and significant parts to present the British Imperialism and their smug of being the powerful rulers. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will show how the British colonialism imposed their superiority towards the inferiors like West Indian creoles and shed further lights on this novel along with its post colonial counterpart, Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane Eyre will unveiled the cultural hierarchy which was presented in the text and also will explore the contested nature and meaning of ‘Englishness’ throughout the narrative of the colonizer (Jane Eyre) and the colonized body (Wide Sargasso Sea). While Bronte’s text constructed the definition of Englishness by juxtaposing English characters against the colonial other, Rhy’s text did fight against Bronte’s cultural hierarchy while simultaneously colluding with the colonial project.

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