English, Department of


First Advisor

Kwame Dawes

Second Advisor

Ng'ang'a Muchiri

Third Advisor

Amelia Montes

Date of this Version

Spring 4-2021


Saleh, Zainab A. Englishness Within: Navigating the Colonial and Patriarchal Motives in Prospero's Daughter and Wide Sargasso Sea. MA Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Kwame Dawes. Lincoln, NE: April, 2021.

Copyright 2021 Zainab Ali Saleh


With the arrival of postcolonial theory and studies surrounding culture and identity, the increased awareness of English cultural identity found itself rooted in the attempts to set the narrative of how identity is a mere checklist of qualifications that presumably leads one to be deemed as one of the “English.” Fixating on the spaces formerly colonized by the British, Englishness has come around to define and establish a discourse of Otherness. From language and dress to food and environment, Englishness finds itself present in postcolonial retellings of colonial texts that set the tone for what is presumably and hegemonically filled to the brim with “Englishness.” This entails the superiority of culture, the aesthetics and standards rooted in patriarchal and colonial motives that will be specifically examined in Elizabeth Nunez’s Prospero’s Daughter, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, a retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Both of these postcolonial counterparts, Prospero’s Daughter taking place during the 20th century at the height of anti-colonial efforts to establish independence and Wide Sargasso Sea taking place after the abolition of slavery in 1833, showcase the implicit and explicit presence of Englishness. These works illustrate the patriarchal and colonial implications within the framework of Englishness that provoke and confront the dichotomy between the colonizer and the colonized from characters deemed “lesser than,” due to the presence of maleness and whiteness, and in some instances, both.

Advisor: Professor Kwame Dawes