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In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte presents post colonialism through the character of St John Rivers. He intends to go to India where he hopes to bring the light of Christianity to a heathen country. He wants to get rid their prejudices of “creed and caste,” though obviously not his own. In his zealous Christianity, he sees the Indians as an inferior race and hopes to implant British values in their supposedly deficient minds, and he urges Jane to sacrifice her emotional deeds for the fulfilment of her moral duty, offering her a way of life that would require her to be disloyal to her own self.
Alas! If I join St. John, I abandon half myself: if I go to India, I go to premature death Bronte makes India seem like an incredibly faraway and dangerous place and never once questions the right that an English missionary would have to go there evangelizing.
I go to premature death shows that it is almost inevitable that Jane would soon die if she went there and would suffer the same fate that seems await St.
John at the end of the book. Jane’s conviction that going to India would kill her. India is seen as such a different world that Jane does not even think that she would be able to survive there. The novel’s implication that it does kill St. John later, as he becomes sick in the extreme climate of India, and the fact the happy denouement of the novel comes in the form of Jane choosing to stay in the safe, secure, civilized Europe and not jeopardizing herself by traveling to the harsh orient.
St John decides to go to India because he hopes to spread Christianity and change their views on Paganism, as they were viewed as uncultured or uncivilised would be admired by a reader from Bronte’s time as it would’ve been seen as a brave and courageous thing to do, Bronte might have chosen for St John to go to India so the reader would like admire St John and find him self-sacrificing and feel pathos for him when jane rejects him, or they might be appalled that he’d even invited Jane to with him and would feel relief that she doesn’t go with him to such a dangerous environment, but a modern-day reader would find the view that India is in need of enlightenment as a racist view as we no longer have a Eurocentric view on the world. And the fact that St John has an inability to “renounce his wide field of mission warfare” shows that his colonialist impulse isn’t based on compassion or mutual understanding, but on violence.
Which a modern-day reader wouldn’t agree with as he would be violating the minds of native peoples, if not their bodies and it would show his misandry resulted in violence against and violation of native peoples. St Johns cold-heartedness could represent the brutality and self-serving function of colonialism. Another way Charlotte Bronte presents post colonialism is through the description of Bertha Mason. Jane describes Bertha as having a discoloured face”it was a savage face. I wish I could forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments!” and says her lips were swelled and dark; the brow furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes. We figure out that Bertha has a dark-coloured face, large lips, and black eyebrows. A little later in the novel, we learn that Bertha’s mother was Creole, which means that she had a multiracial background. Bertha’s family heritage is complex and puts her in a difficult position.
She’s half-Creole and half-English, raised in Jamaica among the British aristocrat half of her family, and already not exactly a part of one world or the other. Jane also describes her as a German spectre”the Vampyre.” Jane is using a supernatural creature, the vampire, as a metaphor to describe a woman of colour. Bertha’s vampiric appearance suggests she is sucking the lifeblood away from the innocent Rochester, who tells Jane he was as innocent as she is until he turned twenty-one and was married to Bertha: His goodness was taken by this savage woman. An insane Creole woman. Jane is using a supernatural creature, the vampire, as a metaphor to describe a woman of colour. By depicting Bertha’s features in monstrous, supernatural terms, Jane characterizes herself as “afraid of the bat like undead” instead of “afraid of racial difference.” Bertha might represent the fears of foreigners.
Bronte uses a lot of animal imagery around Bertha, What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal and create the idea that she’s like some wild beast and is more of a wild animal than human and the fact she’s seen as it and she completely dehumanise her. The fact Bertha is repented like a wild animal might represent peoples Eurocentric views at the time, as they though European values as natural and universal, while Eastern ideas are, for example, inferior, immoral, or “savage.” There is a sense that her madness is somehow related to her birth place, which is thus represented as wild and barbaric. Bronte uses pathetic fallacy to portray this, when Rochester talks about Jamaica he says the sea, which I could hear from thence, rumbled dull like an earthquake”black clouds were casting up over it; the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball making it sound wild and barbaric.
While he speaks of England a more positive light I saw hope revive”and felt regeneration possible. From a flowery arch at the bottom of my garden I gazed over the sea ”bluer than the sky I described as utopia. It’s made out that the problem must be Jamaica itself. If he goes back to Europe, everything will be good and civilized again. Rochester also states ” Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots and maniacs through three generations? Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard!
Here is not only an emphasis on faulty genetics, but also on ethnicity. As Creole, Bertha Mason’s ancestry is ambiguous, as she descends both from European and non-European origins. As a native of Jamaica and a Creole, Bertha’s ancestry likely includes African and Caribbean origins. Rochester’s assertion of Bertha’s Creole roots, then, is a racialized condemnation borne of imperialist presumptions of the ‘superiority’ of the European. Modern European imperialism was built upon the idea of the civilizing mission, bringing progress and enlightenment to the supposedly dark corners of the world. But this presumes that such places, like the Caribbean islands inhabited by the Creoles, are in fact dark and in need of saving and guardianship, hence the close connection between the idea of the Creole and madness: an indigenous person, especially a woman, is already a little sick in body or mind (and probably both). Otherwise, there would be no need for a European/colonizer to save her.
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