The Subversion Of Beauty In Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea

1836 words - 8 pages

“Jamaica is beautiful. Jamaica is too beautiful” (Black). Throughout the semester, we have read multiple novels that describe an irresistible beauty found in the Caribbean: a beauty that conjures, entices, threatens, and ruins. This beauty has caused foreigners to capture, govern, fight for, and tour these islands for centuries. While the Caribbean may be a beautiful place geographically, authors have used this term differently in their literature. My argument in this paper is two-fold: I believe that Jean Rhys writes about this beauty attributed to the Caribbean as a rejection of European influence on the Caribbean and a declaration of the Caribbean’s independence over colonialism, and that his characterization of Christophine is his definition of true Caribbean beauty and identity. I will attempt to explain how this is significant to our understanding of these works, and the Caribbean in general.
In Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, the reader is constantly reminded of the natural beauty of the Caribbean through the novel’s multiple narrators; I’d like to focus on Antoinette’s husbands’ (who I’ll refer to as Rochester for the sake of this paper) ideas about the island’s beauty, and the immediate effect is has on him when he arrives. Rochester states that he didn’t have “much time to notice anything. I was married after I arrived in Jamaica and for nearly three weeks of that time I was in bed with fever” (Rhys, 67). While it’s commonplace for a tourist in a very different environment than is normal to become sick, Rochester hints that this was not a coincidental sickness: “The road climbed upward. On one side the wall of green, on the other a steep drop to the ravine below. We pulled up and looked at the hills, the mountains and the blue-green sea. There was a soft warm wind blowing but I understood why the porter had called it a wild place. Not only wild but menacing. Those hills would close in on you” (Rhys, 69). Rochester begins his first impression of the island by describing the beauty: the wall of green, the hills and mountains, the blue-green sea, the soft warm wind. The imagery given allows the reader to easily picture a serene beach as the forefront of a majestic mountain range. This beauty, though, seems “wild” and “menacing” to Rochester, as if it would “close in on you”. He goes on to say “Everything is too much…Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near” (Rhys, 70). Why would this beautiful place seem wild, menacing, and beyond bearable? This beauty is wild because it doesn’t follow the rules of Europe: it’s unknowable, and it can’t be domesticated or colonized in the way its citizens can. Later on, Rochester says “that is precisely how your beautiful island seems to me, quite unreal and like a dream” (Rhys, 80). Maybe it’s “like a dream” because it hasn’t yet been effected by colonial influence, and Rochester finds it hard to believe it can be so attractive on its own...

Find Another Essay On The Subversion of Beauty in Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea

wide sargasso sea Essay

7574 words - 30 pages poor ghost. I thought I'd try to write her a life".- Jean Rhys-As noted by many, Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) because she feltthat the first Mrs Rochester, depicted as the 'mad' woman in the attic in CharlotteBronte's Jane Eyre (1947), deserved to be given an identity and a history. Thus, hernovel Wide Sargasso Sea is regarded as prequel to Jane Eyre to explain how BerthaAntoinette Mason came to be in the attic of Thornfield house, and

Wide Sargasso Sea Essay

3028 words - 12 pages Wide Sargasso Sea Places take on a symbolic significance in Wide Sargasso Sea. Discuss the way in which Jean Rhys uses different locations in the narrative. Place in 'Wide Sargasso Sea' seems to be used to convey Antoinette's frame of mind at different times in her life. Wally Look Lai believes that "The West Indian setting...is central to the novel...(and) the theme of rejected womanhood is utilized symbolically in order to make an

Postcolonial Discourse in Wide Sargasso Sea

616 words - 2 pages Postcolonial Discourse in Wide Sargasso Sea In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys confronts the possibility of another side to Jane Eyre. The story of Bertha, the first Mrs Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea is not only a brilliant deconstruction of Brontë's legacy, but is also a damning history of colonialism in the Caribbean. The story is set just after the emancipation of the slaves, in that uneasy time when racial relations in the Caribbean were

narrative techniques in wide sargasso sea

3245 words - 13 pages or experiences of their author directly.Narrative and Wide Sargasso SeaOne of the most significant technical differences between Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea is the narration.Jane Eyre says on the title page 'An Autobiography' and it is told in the first person by a single narrator, Jane herselfWide Sargasso Sea is told by different narrators: mainly the un-named Rochester, Antoinette (who becomes the mad Bertha in Jane Eyre) and Grace Poole

Cultural Conflicts In Wide Sargasso Sea

1546 words - 7 pages . Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Wallace Literary Agency, Inc, 1966.Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York: The Viking Press, 1977.Swan, Edith. "Laguna Prototypes of Manhood in Ceremony." MELUS. 17.1 (Spring 1991): 39-61. Rpt. In Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter and Deborah A. Schmitt. Vol. 114. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. 39-61. Literature Resource Center. Gale. BATTLE GROUND ACADEMY LIBRARY. 2 Dec. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=tel_batga>.

Search For Knowledge In Wide Sargasso Sea

550 words - 2 pages In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, both the young woman, Antoinette Cosway, and the prideful man, Rochester, look for more security throughout their lives. Antoinette is a girl of fearful backgrounds and a lustful marriage. Rochester is a gentleman of wealth and lustfulness. All about the story, these two try to search for the remedy to find their happiness; in the end, they fail miserably.Antoinette Cosway searches for truth and knowledge in a way

Search For Knowledge In Wide Sargasso Sea

550 words - 2 pages In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, both the young woman, Antoinette Cosway, and the prideful man, Rochester, look for more security throughout their lives. Antoinette is a girl of fearful backgrounds and a lustful marriage. Rochester is a gentleman of wealth and lustfulness. All about the story, these two try to search for the remedy to find their happiness; in the end, they fail miserably.Antoinette Cosway searches for truth and knowledge in a way

Search For Knowledge In Wide Sargasso Sea

550 words - 2 pages In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea, both the young woman, Antoinette Cosway, and the prideful man, Rochester, look for more security throughout their lives. Antoinette is a girl of fearful backgrounds and a lustful marriage. Rochester is a gentleman of wealth and lustfulness. All about the story, these two try to search for the remedy to find their happiness; in the end, they fail miserably.Antoinette Cosway searches for truth and knowledge in a way

Racial Tensions in Wide Sargasso Sea

1172 words - 5 pages Racial tension is a major theme in “Wide Sargasso Sea”, with the mix of whites and blacks and white/blacks in the novel creating a cut-throat atmosphere which creates a hazardous place for Jamaica’s denizens. Many racial situations occur between whites and blacks, which Americans are use to due to the dangerous troubles between blacks and whites in the 1950s with a clear enemy: the whites. But Rhys tackles a more important point: an overall

Rochester in Duigan´s Wide Sargasso Sea

2505 words - 10 pages story of Jane Eyre, Rochester finds strength in being quiet in the film Wide Sargasso Sea. After his infidelity with Amelie, he becomes very distant. He does not look or want to spend time with his wife. This makes her very unhappy which leads her to break down and find ways for him to love her again. His distance and silence is very powerful in her mental instability. She does not understand how someone can be tender one minute then change

The Wide Sargasso Sea and Race

2139 words - 9 pages I read an interesting fact recently online; it said that if one ever feels alone to remember that at any given point that they are in proximity to at least ten ghosts and their butts. What this has to do with Wide Sargasso Sea and the issue of race within it? Absolutely nothing; just thought it would be nice to know given it is Halloween. If one feels inclined, they can also give love to those ghosts by blowing kisses to them, just because they

Similar Essays

The Importance Of Truth In Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea

1229 words - 5 pages The Importance of Truth in Wide Sargasso Sea In Wide Sargasso Sea " Rhys presents a white Creole family living in a Caribbean Island (Jamaica), which is a lush and insecure world for them, after the liberation of the slaves. The husband had once been a slaveholder, the mother is a confused and crazy lady and Antoinette, the daughter, is a child in an atmosphere of fear, recrimination and bitter anger. She becomes increasingly isolated-this

"Wide Sargasso Sea": The Theme Of Rejection

649 words - 3 pages Rejection is an important theme throughout the novel.Many instances of rejection in Wide Sargasso Sea occur firstly when Antoinette approaches her mother in Part I to try to sooth her frown and she is rejected blatantly, when Antoinette is jeered and insulted by her friend Tia, whom she has cherished, and also when Antoinette is stalked by a black girl through the bushes, and jeered, insulted and called dirty names. She is rejected one night

The Sargasso Sea As An Underlying Metaphor In Wide Sargasso Sea

1532 words - 7 pages The Sargasso Sea as an Underlying Metaphor in Wide Sargasso Sea Why did Jean Rhys name her novel about the Creole madwoman in the attic from Jane Eyre after a mysterious body of water in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? As there is no mention made of the Sargasso Sea in the novel itself, one might wonder why she chose to title her novel after it. In a 1958 letter to a friend and colleague, she describes her changing titles for the novel: “I

Colonising Within The Marriage In Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea

1161 words - 5 pages Colonising Within the Marriage in Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea      Jean Rhys' complex text, Wide Sargasso Sea, came about as an attempt to re-invent an identity for Rochester's mad wife, Bertha Mason, in Jane Eyre, as Rhys felt that Bronte had totally misrepresented Creole women and the West Indies: 'why should she think Creole women are lunatics and all that? What a shame to make Rochester's wife, Bertha, the awful madwoman, and I