F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Woman of Colour Response

Having read The Woman of Colour, I was struck by how this story is also about Olivia and her interactions with the English than it was about her own development. The way the novel ended with her leaving for Jamaica for me speaks to her own agency that she ends up not getting married and leaves for home. But I think the problem I have with the text is that it gives the white characters a happy ending (in particular Mr. Augustus) which I think would not have happened without Olivia reconciling and facilitating their relationship. Although the text lays out how the mother put the son into a situation in which he became a bigamist, what upset me about the text was that Olivia left without getting her inheritance, but maybe this is what she wanted. Moreover, the book seems to stop short in really explaining how racism shapes the attitudes of the white English who see Olivia as a racialized other. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the white English reveal about themselves is that they have been shaped by the racial discourse, and Olivia’s surprise at their racism reveals that the white English are having to come face to face with the racialized other they have seen at a distance but never confronted. Furthermore, Olivia then becomes the physical reminder of slavery and Britain’s role in the slave trade, when they see Olivia they are confronted with their colonial other. But the text does offer an interesting critique in the form of the Marmadukes, in particular Lady Marmaduke who lays out how despite the English and their mocking of colonials they end up mimicking the cultural patterns of the very people that they mock.

This page has paths: