The Subversive Victim: The (D)Evolution of the Rhys Heroine through Voyage in the Dark, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, and Good Morning, Midnight
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Professional Studies
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Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, and Good Morning, Midnight, when read as a trilogy, detail the linear trajectory of one woman’s life through the characters of Anna, Julia, and Sasha respectively. Through the novels’ progression, they unveil a deeper analysis of the psychology motivating the characters’ often troubling behavior. Anna, Julia, and Sasha all subject themselves to extreme victimization in their struggle for survival; however, they are able to use their victimization to subvert the patriarchal power structures they inhabit. Their social, financial, and physical weaknesses are compounded by their identification with frequently marginalized minority groups. They choose to fail rather than succeed in a system that continues to oppress them. In order to survive, they depend on the financial support of men, typically lovers or former lovers. These characters capitalize on social expectations for women in the early 20th century; by doing so, they address the systemic flaws created by these societal norms. By reading Anna, Julia, and Sasha as points along the life of a single character, the progress of their collective life is made clear. Through Anna, the reader sees the original cause for the troubling behavior Julia exhibits, which eventually leads to the repercussions from this behavior that Sasha must suffer.