Muddy death: fate, femininity and mourning in Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight

Gildersleeve, Jessica (2010) Muddy death: fate, femininity and mourning in Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight. In: Rites of passage in postcolonial women's writing. Cross/Cultures (123). Rodopi, Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 227-244. ISBN 978-90-420-2935-4


In this essay, I seek to discover and analyze the core of female consciousness as expressed in the last of Rhys's four early novels, Good Morning, Midnight. These four texts, published between 1928 and 1939, are often viewed together, dismissed by critics as experimental and developmental, and as not yet expressing the consummate fictional voice Rhys found in her 1966 novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. Good Morning, Midnight reveals the sophistication of her early conceptualization of female identity,
particularly in terms of its fire and water symbolism, which prompts a discussion of female identity in this narrative; this, I believe, will offer a striking analysis of the redefinition of femininity Rhys seeks to undertake.
Images of fire and water may be seen to signify the elemental force of feminine consciousness. In the novel I will examine here, these metaphors are a means by which to explore the frustrations of women who could not return to a naive and docile role, but to whom participation in public life had been abruptly closed. British women of the 1920s and 1930s were trapped in a no-place, unable to move forward and unwilling to move back. The end of World War I in 1918 had brought with it hope for a new future for British society as a whole, and for women in particular. Expectations of emancipation had been raised by wartime employment and the achievement of the vote, and many women saw the end of the war as signifying a turning-point in the suffragist movement.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © Editions Rodopi B.V. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Mass Communication
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2014 23:41
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2014 05:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: womens role; British history; suffragist movement
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200526 Stylistics and Textual Analysis
16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169901 Gender Specific Studies
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture

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