Anna Morgan, the central character of Jean Rhys's Voyage in the Dark, has previously been read as a victim of her own inability to fashion some form of life for herself.1 It is possible, however, to suggest an alternative to such character-based readings and instead examine the systems of oppression which work to ensure that Anna remains an excluded, marginalized subject. Rather than personal failings, it is Anna's gender and colonial status which prevent her from participating fully in the dominant social and economic order of Voyage in the Dark. Anna is textually constrained on three levels, which may be defined as economic, colonialist, and narrative. Imbricated within these is the question of gender, which functions to place Anna in a position of double-exclusion within the text. These forms of exclusion function at the levels of discourse and narrative; I would argue that Anna's position is not, therefore, a product of realist character 'flaws' but rather that her discursive placement within the novel offers insight into the ways in which colonialism and sexism function in terms of textuality. 2
Thomas, Glen, 'The One with the Beastly Lives': Gender and Textuality in Jean Rhys' s Voyage in the Dark, Kunapipi, 17(3), 1995.