Doubling and Naming

8 Feb

Last class we discussed the double effect between Antoinetta and Tia. The two scenes that we talked about were when the two switch roles as Tia takes Antoinetta’s clothes, and the second when Tia throws the stone at her, showing tears and blood mirroring each other. The double here shows the confusion of identity and the struggle with Antoinetta being seen as both white and black, which is worse than being one or the other (“black nigger better than white nigger”).  This doubling I believe is continued throughout the rest of the novel, which becomes more confused as she loses herself- her name and identity.

Amelie seems to be another double, but the double is created through Rochester rather than Antoinetta. Amelie is dark, lower class and mean to Antoinetta in a similar way as Tia. The beauty Rochester sees in Antoinetta he transfers to Amelie. Taking Antoinetta’s place, Amelie sleeps with Rochester. However, as soon as the act is over, Rochester erases this double and sees Amelie as she was; “Her skin was darker, her lips thicker than I had thought” (84). The ‘whiteness’ of Antoinetta dissolves in the blackness of Amelie. As soon as the double vanishes, so does Amelie leave the novel. The fact that Antoinetta is nearby and able to hear everything is another step toward her own loss of self; her place as wife is transferred.

In the end, Tia is brought back to life as a double figure to Antoinetta. The last page of her dream vision reads, “Tia was there. She beckoned to me and when I hesitated, she laughed. I heard her say, You frightened?” (112). It is the double that beckons her to her death. The last step to her madness happens as she wakes up calling ‘Tia!” Antoinetta’s other half (Tia) lies over the edge. If she jumps to her death, she will have a full identity again rather than pieces of it scattered in various characters.

It may be too far to say that Rochester is some form of a double, however, there is some form of madness that takes over his thoughts. This is especially present after talking to Christophine in Part Two. Rochester says, “She’s mad but mine, mine. What will I care for gods or devils or for Fate itself. If she smiles or weeps or both. For me” (99). While naming seems to be a prominent issue in the sanity of characters, it seems to me that the doubling element has a lot to do with madness as well. Naming may be a trigger to the loss of identity, but doubling provides no return to sanity.

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