Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Deepti Misri

Second Advisor

Laura Winkiel

Third Advisor

Janice Ho

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Greaney


Although Jean Rhys' works are studied in a number of different fields, the role of consumer capitalism in her novels--specifically imperialist capitalism--has not been thoroughly examined by critics. Rhys' 1934 Voyage in the Dark provides particularly fruitful ground for this inquiry because it reveals the imperial exploitation at the heart of British consumer capitalism, which was on the rise at the beginning of the 20th century, and examines the specific role of the white Creole woman in that system. A closer examination of previously unexamined allusions to imperial capitalism in the text will draw attention to the ways Rhys theorizes her protagonist's complicity in the exploitative system that oppresses her, and how her participation in that system is determined by her marginalized racial and class identities. This paper also contends that, despite what critics have claimed, Rhys' protagonist has some agency within these oppressive systems.