Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Charles Batson




surrealist, poetry, colonized, poems, France


This thesis analyzes the poetic works of two French-speaking surrealist poets of the twentieth century, Aimé Césaire and André Breton. Despite their common point of surrealism, Césaire and Breton's poems differ because of their identities in a society afflicted by Western colonization. Using the literary theories of postcolonialism as a perspective for the analysis of Breton and Césaire's poems, I show that both men have a double consciousness based on the complicated influence of a colonizing society. Literary criticism of postcolonialism examines individual identities in colonial societies in relation to their symbolic position as "colonist" or "colonized." Césaire, a Martinican poet and politician and founder of the Negritude movement, possesses postcolonial public identity of a colonized. The public character of Breton as a white and French poet indicates, at the beginning, his symbolic position as a settler. Despite this dichotomy, I explain that their poems reveal deeper identifications reversed in their subconscious. Through his use of French instead of Creole for his poems, Césaire reveals a hidden unconscious that identifies with the colonists, and the poetic identification of Breton with the Celtic culture of France before its colonization by the Romans implies the existence of a colonized unconscious. Through the revelation of these dual consciousnesses in the poetry of Breton and Césaire, this thesis demonstrates the breadth and depth of colonial influence on individuals and society.