Mimicry, Imitation, and Double Consciousness: The Absence and Presence of Black Heroines in The Woman of Colour and William Earle's Obi
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This thesis demonstrates how two early nineteenth century British novels, William Earle’s Obi, or The History of Three-Fingered Jack (1800) and the anonymously-written The Woman of Colour; A Tale (1808), feature prominent women of colour that move beyond the silenced, enslaved, minor representations of black and mixed race women made popular in previously published texts throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The progression of Amri and Olivia’s positions through the use of literary strategies, such as Homi K. Bhabha’s mimicry, Paul Gilroy’s double consciousness, and gender-reversals reveal the inherent ambivalence of the women’s positions in each narrative and the importance of these representations against the hegemonic female position. Although I argue that neither author succeeds in overturning traditional limitations of representing women of colour in literature of the period, investigating these texts is crucial to understanding the autonomous, influential women of colour in later nineteenth century literary works.