Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Christina Crosby

Major

English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis proposes a reading of four of Jean Rhys? novels?After Leaving Mr Mackenzie; Voyage in the Dark; Good Morning, Midnight; and Wide Sargasso Sea?through Avery Gordon?s critical work on haunting, Ghostly Matters. Rhys? work is situated in its historical context, allowing for a reading that is specific to the conditions of the author?s time period and locations. Gordon?s book guides the framework of haunting and ghostliness that this project proposes for Rhys? women characters, suggesting that the Rhys women are themselves ghostly figures. They are both haunted and haunting. Ghostly Matters argues for a reading of ghosts and haunting that is socially and politically charged, reading haunting as the work of historical and social violences that will not be consigned to the past. In this framework, haunting is positioned as a call to action, a kind of political resistance, a and potent reminder of trauma?s recurrences. Ghosts are political actors doing important affective work. In Rhys? novels, these women ghosts communicate the violences of colonialism, whiteness, poverty, and misogyny. They are haunting figures that testify to social and historical injustices even as they are themselves implicated in them. This thesis will examine gender, race, and domesticity in Rhys? works as they play out in patterns haunting and representations of trauma, noting that these social structures inevitably intersect and complicate each other. The critical works of Cathleen Maslen, Judith Raiskin, and Elaine Savory will support these claims. Jean Rhys? ghosts, then, are not simply tragic women who?ve been wronged or the ?spirit? of loss or longing. They are created by?but also, as ghosts, must exceed?existing historical conditions of violence, power, and resistance.

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