The Portrayal of European and Colonized Native Women in Post-Colonial Literature




Reeves, Reagan

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Post-Colonial literature consists of works written in English in formerly colonized societies, such as those found in Africa, India and the Caribbean. Within the realm of post-colonialist literature, the portrayal of women’s roles and experiences are approached with varying levels of authenticity, depth and success. Looking at the gendered history of colonialism, with emphasis given to the colonial and imperial histories of Africa, India and the Caribbean, stark contrasts between the typical European ideal and the representation of the ‘colonized’ or ‘native’ female appear. The seeming necessity to protect the plain, submissive European ideal from the sensuality or savagery associated with the often shallow portrayal of a native woman is a common theme in post-colonial literature. Traditional roles taken up by women, sometimes seen as distasteful by colonial European standards, can be considered a form of rebellion against such colonial rule. The depth afforded to the portrayal of women in more modern works provides a clearer picture than those works that superficially seek to characterize colonized women.



Post-Colonial Literature, Portrayal of Women, Historical Context