Sue Thomas


In Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) one of Jean Rhys’s mordant figures for Rochester’s need to assimilate white Creole Antoinette Cosway Mason Rochester into a gendered middle-class Englishness is the ‘marionette’ (90, 92) or ‘doll’ (90, 93, 102, 103), the inert object of his desire and hatred. The others are the ‘grey wrapper’ rather than the red dress in which she is clothed at Thornfield Hall, and zombification (Rhys’s West Indian interpretation of what Rochester sees as a doll-like condition). In Rhys’s published and unpublished fiction of the 1930s — Voyage in the Dark (1934), and the typescript ‘The Cardboard Dolls’ House’ (1938 or 1939) — dolls of several kinds feature in narratives about assimilation, xenophobia and the racialisation of colonial difference.



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