Trapped in Time: The Oppression of Patriarchal and Colonialist Time on Women in Wide Sargasso Sea

Presenter: Madeline Finney ’20 | Major: English & History

Mentor: Anna Shajirat, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English

Abstract: This presentation will examine the ways in which women’s subjectivity is inherently linked to patriarchal structures including the passage of time particularly under colonial rule in the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys. I will be exploring Julia Kristeva’s theory “Women’s Time” to explore how women become trapped for eternity within cycles of oppression. Further, I incorporate Edward Said’s concept of the “other” to demonstrate how patriarchal powers create hierarchies, both gendered and racial, of the “other” to keep people oppressed, particularly women, and women of color doubly so. Depending on a woman’s position within either hierarchy she becomes subject to the oppressor/victim relationship from which she cannot escape. The only way to escape this eternal and cyclical horror in a colonial environment is to reject these oppressive structures, though doing so comes at a disastrous price.