ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Psychological Realism in Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

Updated on March 26, 2010

“Good morning, Midnight” by Jean Rhys presents a narrative on the life of its main character Sasha Jensen. In the story Sasha Jansen comes to Paris using borrowed money to reminisce the past and purge the pain that haunts her.

Jean Rhys expertly employs her own brand of tragicomedy in this story.  Tragicomedy is when the boundaries of comedy and tragedy dissolves.  This she employs to portray psychological realism of Sasha’s life which many believes is a story of her own life.  Rhys has the distinctive style of dry humor and quick wit which she utilizes on her characters. 

Rhys is very adept in injecting funny moments in somber scenes.  For instance, she writes of Sasha Jensen observing a group of women, “fifteen women in a queue, each clutching her penny, not one bold spirit to dash out of her turn past the stern-faced attendant. That’s what I call discipline” (10). 

The same way that James Joyce employs internal monologues in his characters, Rhys also uses similar style.  Helen Carr notes that there is a “melancholy haze through which her work is often read” (77).   Rhys novels are filled with irony, farce and internal conversations of a character and Good Morning Midnight is of no exception to her brand of narrative style. 

Rhys also employs flashbacks in the past.  In the book one can see the main character Sasha Jensen constantly looking back to her past as she walks through the streets of Paris. “Here this happened, here that happened” (Rhys 15). People and places serve as painful and constant reminder of what she left behind. 

These flashbacks and internal monologues are used by Rhys to better illustrate and understand the inner workings of Sasha’s mind. These techniques, of course, lend psychological realism to the story.

The rooms and street she passed by recalls her past like a film rolling before her eyes.  “This damned room – it’s saturated with the past. . . . It’s all the rooms I’ve ever slept in, all the streets I’ve ever walked in. Now the whole thing moves in an ordered, undulating procession past my eyes. Rooms, streets, streets, rooms. . . .” (109).

The story may be told in first person and serves as a recollection of Sasha’s past but there are some doubts as to the veracity of her accounts.  This is largely because her narrations are clouded by the use of alcohol and luminal ( sleeping pill).

This reveals Sasha’s uncertainties particularly on her very own identity.  Sasha describes herself, through the imagined perception of other perople, as an old woman or “la vieille” [sic] (41).

Her indecisiveness extends to her views in life.  As the story unfolds, one can understand the reason why Sasha is depressed.  She recalls all that has transpired while she lived in Paris – her job as a mannequin and shop assistant, the death of her love Enno and the death of her baby son.  There's a flashback when looks at her dead baby.  She simply says, 'no wrinkle' as if she doesn’t care.
Sasha does not have a truly positive encounter with men as all of the men in her life disappointed her.  For instance, the love of her life, Enno, and her father, both left her which made her feel empty and abandoned.   She does not trust men, to the point that she does not trust herself to trust men.

Sasha’s emotions fluctuate quickly.  Rhys makes use of short paragraphs and sentences to demonstrate this. The whole idea of the book is like a documentation of inward reflection of Sasha’s uneventful life. The story does not have major climaxes.
Later, Sasha meets Rene, a young gigolo who offers her hope.  She likes him a lot but Sasha’s low self-esteem leads her to reject his advances. As the novel ends, one finds Sasha seeking comfort in the arms of her strange neighbor whom she, ironically, dislikes. 

The beauty of Sasha is she just doesn’t tell her story, she actually lives it.  In her mind, she dwells in the past. She merges the present with what happens in the past.  Rhys’ depiction of female consciousness and experiences is flawless.  Sasha’s life may be depressing but there is one redeeming quality in her  which is her sense of humor.  She sees funny things even in the most difficult circumstances.  She understands the comedy and tragedy of life.  That is why the end of the story may appear quiet terrifying to some but not to Sasha because she understands life’s ironies.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      - Sasha,You SO deserve to be inlcdued in this list of ICONS. You are a risk taker, a mover-shaker and do things your way staying true to yourself, your style, your core values. You push boundaries, challenge the status quo and that takes chutzpah to put yourself out there like that, knowing not only your product will face critics (good and bad) but yourself as an artist will as well. BUT, that is what ICONS do and we are grateful for them because, if we are smart, we pay attention and learn from ICONS on how to be better at being our best selves at what we do as well. Hope we can have another one of those amazing talks like we did at Catersource/ES real soon. Enjoy your presentation in NYC and I know you will be fabulous and inspiring as always. You certainly inspire ME!T.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)