A short summary of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of Wide Sargasso Sea.
Wide Sargasso Sea is a 1966 novel by Dominica-born British author Jean Rhys.It is a feminist and anti-colonial  response to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847), describing the background to Mr. Rochester's marriage from the point-of-view of his mad wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress.
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A cover of The Wide Sargasso Sea The Wide Sargasso Sea Summary of Story. Part One – Forced to live in poverty since the abolition of slavery, Antoinette’s mother Anette decides to marry a wealthy Englishman, Mr. Mason, who in turn is planning to exploit her.
Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage.She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters.
Jan 23, 2020 · Wide Sargasso Sea. 1966. London/ New York: Norton, 1999. Introduction. Published in 1966, Wide Sargasso Sea is an interventionist novel that tells the silenced story of Bertha Mason, the “mad woman in the attic” from Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre. According to some sources, “it took Rhys twenty-one years to write” the novel.
Wide Sargasso Sea begins in Jamaica after the Emancipation Act of 1833, under which Britain outlawed slavery in all its colonies. The first part of the novella is told from the point-of-view of Antoinette Cosway, a young white girl whose father, a hated former slaveholder, has died and left his wife and children in poverty.
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Back at the house, the husband goes into his private drawing room and pulls out a book called “ The Glittering Coronet of Isles,” about the West Indies, and turns to a chapter entitled, “Obeah,” to the section about the “zombi,” and reads it to himself.
- Racial Difference in Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre
- Antoinette, Race and Identity
- Antoinette and The Caribbean
- Antoinette, Women and Slavery
- Rochester, Race and Identity
Jane Eyre is built on a set of assumptions about racial difference centred on the construction of the Caribbean as ‘Other' to English culture. The novel shows attitudes developed through Britain's long political and economic dominance over other parts of the world. It exploited these ‘others' but justified this by projecting onto them a range of negative associations. In so doing, the strange and alien could be controlled, reduced in power and dominated. Bertha in Brontë's novel can be seen as representing this distorted view of the Caribbean. This issue is discussed further in Contemporary critical assessments> Post-colonial approaches. Wide Sargasso Seaconstructs the ‘other side'; it gives back a voice, identity and culture to the silenced and dehumanised Bertha Mason. The novel also constructs a much more varied and less stereotyped Caribbean world. Jean Rhys shows the complex racial groupings, black, white, ‘coloured', as well as the way in which the specific colonial history of...
Antoinette's childhood shows her positioned between the white and black communities. She has affinities with certain black characters such as Tia and Christophine, but cannot fully identify with them. She is white, brought up with a set of values based on superiority and dominance. The result is marginalisation from both communities as a white cockroach and a fractured sense of personal identity. Early in the novel, Antoinette says she wanted to be something or someone other than herself, often wondering who she really was and where she belonged. One element in Antoinette's split identity is the myth of Englandimposed on her by her white Creole culture, which looked to England as the metropolitan centre. Antoinette has an inaccurate vision of what England is like.
In wishing to be like Tia and Christophine, Antoinette expresses a Caribbean aspect of her self. But that too is problematic. Antoinette is a product of her white planter culture: 1. In wishing to be like Tia, Antoinette has to repress another side of herself. She is the daughter of a slave ownerafter all. One of the reasons for the pervasive sense of secrets, things hidden, things not spoken about, is that the white Creole community will not face up to their recent participation in slavery 2. Antoinette demonstrates their prejudices. She names only her black servants, the other blacks all look alike to her 3. Her attitude to Daniel Cosway is also a prejudiced one, as the language of his description in her narrative in Part one shows clearly.
One aspect of Wide Sargasso Sea that has attracted critical attention is the connection Jean Rhys makes between slavery and the oppression of white Creole women at this time. For more on this, please see the section Religious / philosophical context > Women and Power. The relationship between Antoinette and Rochester can also be seen as representing the relationship between coloniser and colonised, as well as the complex intersections of race with gender and identity: 1. Antoinette is economically enslavedin that, on her marriage, all her fortune becomes Rochester's to do with as he wishes. The novel sets up a careful parallel between Antoinette's condition in this respect and Christophine's relative poverty but financial independence 2. Antoinette is also sexually and emotionally enslavedby the passion she feels for Rochester. Again, Christophine underlines this in her advice to leave Rochester, which Antoinette feels unable to take. The novel also sets up a parallel between Antoin...
In Jane EyreEngland's relationship with the colonies is represented in conventional nineteenth century terms as one of a moral and religious mission to ‘improve' their subject cultures. This sense of mission masked, of course, economic exploitation. In her Rochester character, Jean Rhys maintains the role of colonial exploiter who has assumptions of moral righteousness. Rochester's English upbringing provides him with a set of moral standards against which he measures the Caribbean unfavourably. Jean Rhys exposes the hypocrisy of this position in various ways: 1. Rochester behaves like a slave ownerin his sexual relationship with Amélie 2. Although the place and people have a profound effect on him, by liberating repressed aspects of his personality, fear of this alien ‘Other' and its powermakes him draw back and retreat into the safety of his English identity 3. He tries to make Antoinette more English and less Caribbean (the change of name is a key sign of this process). When this...
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