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Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea Essay

1882 words - 8 pages

Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea has developed a character for the depth of time. Antoinette's childhood story of outmost unhappiness, contrasted with her attempt at love, and finally the arrival to her concluded state depicts the single condemnation of her soul. Misguided and unloved, Antoinette is forced to raise herself in a world of fear and hatred. As a young woman, her only happiness is found with nature, her place of peace in the world. Yet when her chance at love arises, Antoinette challenges the very destination of her life and hopes to undo her already doomed demise. However, despite all these downfalls, Antoinette is simplistically understood through her voice of narration; possibly due to her complex view of the world, and her knowingly plausible condition, it forces herself to derive her life into a fragile and untrustworthy state.
The voice of a young child is indefinitely touching to the reader's perception of Antoinette. The novel opens to Antoinette's narration of her dissatisfaction with life, conveying her position without a father, a broken down family name, and a mother whose love is beyond passive. Life has changed, as she clearly states, "our garden was large and beautiful as that of the garden in the Bible – the tree of life had grew there. But it had gone wild" (Rhys, 19). She begins to give us a touchstone on her profound new way of existence without her father and his company which served them with much wealth. "Antoinette [continues to] express her longing for the West Indies of her youth; contrasting [her] lifeless and lonely presence among the White English against a vibrant past amount the black West Indians" (Su, 158). She is left in a position of self-endorsement, where her nostalgia has begun, and although Antoinette is indeed homesick for a sense of fulfillment, she is indefinitely home. The image of fire is the first of many symbols which display the distortion in Antoinette's life. As the workers rebel to Mr. Mason's dominance, a blaze is set upon the house. Annette's parrot, Coco, symbolically mimics the life of Annette and her daughter. The bird symbolized a captivity of both mother and daughter – the metaphoric clipping of their feathers by insensitive English husbands who see them as threatening spirits. The parrot's blazed fall from the burning house prefigures Antoinette's fall from Thornfeild Hall. Furthermore, Antoinette defined the event of Coco's death where her mother mentally died. She later cited her depiction on the event, saying "there are always two deaths, the real one, and the one people see" (Rhys, 91).
The voice of Antoinette is so confined to reality, that her fragile imagination is trapped and incapable to break free. Through these examples, Antoinette is...

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