Compare and contrast different ways of presenting dominance and oppression in post-colonial societies by reference to Walcott’s poetry and at least one other work you have studied. Dominance and oppression are strong features of post-colonial writing due to the writers’ concerns with the post-colonial society. Most post-colonial literature explores the discussion of cultural identity and how they had been affected during the course of colonialism. They further extend these issues by showing the struggle of being independent due to the sudden power vacuum, representing the inability of the governments.
Due to long periods of colonialists’ use of dominance and oppression, colonies adapted these behaviour themselves to keep in control during post-colonialism. Both Walcott and Rhys come from the Caribbean and they are concerned with the attitude in the post-colonial societies and how they have been influenced through previous colonisation. Walcott’s use of elaborate language in his poems conveys some of the main issues to do with slavery and period during colonialism. Rhys tries to demonstrate her concerns towards the White dominance in the Caribbean.
These key concerns root from the colonialists’ use of dominance and oppression to make colonies to adapt to their way of life and culture thus creating the loss of cultural identity of their own. Both Walcott and Rhys present dominance and oppression as their main concern although they present it in different ways due to the different types of genres, which in effect allows the writers to take different approach. In ‘Ruins of a Great House’, Walcott presents dominance and oppression as the unnatural, artificial placement in the Caribbean society and they can not co-exists.
He uses stream of conscious to depict his own feelings and opinions about slavery, which in some ways are similar techniques used by Rhys. The poem conveys the experience of having one’s conventional responses to the iniquities of West Indian history subverted. The concern about the existence of purity and evil at the same time is obvious at the beginning of the poem. This soon escalates in to anger throughout the poem then has the tone of reconciliation at the end. The representation of the Caribbean as the ‘World’s green age’ was what the colonialists believed about the Caribbean.
They believed that Caribbean was the ‘untouched’ place where it was the ‘Eden’ on Earth. However, the existence of evil condemns these qualities as they use their dominance to oppress the nature. The title itself ‘Great House’ is quite ironic as it is exploring the ‘Great House’; the presence of dominance which was lived in by the slave owners. However, these ‘Great House’ are now only the ‘ruins’, showing that dominance and oppression could not hold on to the beauty and nature of the Caribbean. This is very similar to Rhys representation of Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea.
There were ‘soft warm wind blowing’ but Rochester felt the ‘hills would close in on you’, showing his discomfort of his presence in the Caribbean. It’s uneasy for dominance to be in place when such natural beauty exists; they can not co-exist. The beauty of the Caribbean becomes an extended metaphor as Walcott starts to show that they are rotting; the inescapable fall. He conveys the thought of freshness through the use of ‘lime’ metaphor as to represent the original Caribbean society. Walcott soon conveys the ideas of memento mori to explore the decay of the dominance in the Caribbean.
There is the ‘leprosy of Empire’ and the ‘imperious rakes are gone’ as well as there being the ‘rotting lime’. Although one could argue that these wordings are used to convey the difference between the nature of the Caribbean and the dominance powers; they can not overrule the nature, showing weakness in the colonialists. However, others argue that images of decay and rotting are to reflect on the silence on the Caribbean. They are not given a chance to express their own views, which in a way is also a type of oppression.
Although they are not forced to say nothing, they are in a way oppressed by the dominance figures in the world that they have not been given a chance to share their sides of the story, hence the ‘ruins of the Great House’. ‘Ruins’ could suggest the physical ruins of the Great House but also the ruins left behind from the actual period which we have not yet discovered. This is what Rhys tries to do in her novel; she wanted to give voice back to the ‘women in the attic’ who did not have the chance to explain her side of the story.
Furthermore, oppression is shown through the ‘lime’ imagery as it shows the dominance of white colour in the Caribbean. Walcott uses images of things which go white to present dominance and oppression in the Caribbean such as ‘lime’ ‘Albion’ ‘leprosy’. They are all images of things which make people go white, showing White people’s dominance in the Caribbean and their colonisation as well as slave ownership. Through these use of images, Walcott conveys his own thoughts and opinion about the issues to do with slavery and its dominance and oppression in the Caribbean.
In similar, Rhys presents Rochester’s appearance in the Caribbean as an ‘invasion’ and taking dominance in the household. Furthermore, Rochester’s narrative on his view of the Caribbean tended to be quite anglicized. He felt that the property looked like an ‘imitation of an English summer house’; this is quite similar to Walcott’s use of colour imagery and Rochester tries to find his dominance in the house by anglicising things in accordance to his preference.