Gothicised Henri Christophe: The Tocsin in Colonial Aftermath

Luo Anyi


Henry Christophe (1949) is Derek Walcott’s first play about the Caribbean history of the Haitian Revolution. It inherits consecutive concerns of the danger and anxiety of belief, power, and races in nineteenth-century gothic narratives and employs them to politically assess the post-revolution upheaval. Focusing on the gothic narratives in the play, which deal primarily with the ones of spiritual authority, the mad black king, and the fear of mulatto, this paper proposes that the gothic narratives serve to manifest the anxiety of the constant effects of former suzerain authority on the former colony and the plight of the newly independent slaves’ self-identification. By this gothicised expression, this play discloses the intricated experience of the Haitian Revolution and rings the tocsin to the colonial aftermath of racial issues, and class division that continues to consume this region in the twentieth century.

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