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Jean Rhys' Use Of Conflicting Narratives Of Antoinette And Rochester In Wide Sargasso Sea

1964 words - 8 pages

Jean Rhys' Use of Conflicting Narratives of Antoinette and Rochester in "Wide Sargasso Sea"

There are many techniques Jean Rhys uses to bring across the point
that the narrators are unreliable and the truth twisted, it is an
interesting and effective idea as it makes the reader feel confused on
who to trust and really involves them in the book, they become party
to the secrets.

Rhys’ book is so complex as it is obviously linked to the Classic
book- ‘Jane Eyre’; this is classic English literature and therefore is
always in our minds during WSS. Those that have read ‘Jane Eyre’
normally like to trust Jane as she is a heroine who we have sympathy
for; we are introduced to her from when she is young so we know and
understand her and how she behaves. Also in ‘Jane Eyre’, Mr.Rochester
comes across very innocent, you believe he is trustworthy and that he
loves Jane, you want them to be happy together- when he reveals his
'mad wife' to Jane you feel sympathy for him as he is in such a bad
situation, you also feel sympathy for Jane; you feel resentful towards
Bertha as she ruined what Jane and Rochester could have had; it is
easy to feel like this as you don’t know her, as you do in WSS.
Bertha, in ‘Jane Eyre’, gets locked up in a luxury place; it seems she
has her own 'quarters' unlike in WSS. When you read WSS I felt less
sympathy for Mr.Rochester because you don’t really get the impression
that he loves Antoinette and that he is only marrying her for money.

Another factor that creates contrast between these novels is it is set
in a midst of strange confusing things (WSS) and a completely
different culture, which is chaotic and primitive, this makes us more
misplaced. Whereas in ‘Jane Eyre’ the culture is very civilised and
secretive. The contrast in cultures is huge, Rhys has shown this by
understand that in ‘Jane Eyre’ there is huge suppression of emotion,
so she created the culture of WSS to be more open with emotion and it
is more openly sexual-exposed, revealed. She created this type of
setting with more sensuous ,with vivid colours and smells; there are
no glass windows it is more open than in Jane Eyre where it is more
shut away. Also there is more contrast between the novels as Jane’s
increasing confidence and success to Antoinette’s despair and madness.
It is interesting for Jean Rhys to address the balance of Jane Eyre
and the 'mad wife’s' point of views. She probably wanted to do this as
she suffered in Europe and believed the western culture did not
understand her culture (she was raised in the Caribbean). Rhys wanted
to introduce and let the white- Europeans understand the situations
abroad.

It is also very confusing and distorting for the reader as during
reading the narrators change very suddenly, there are three different
'books' in WSS each with a different narrator. Book one is the main
section, it is from the viewpoint of Antoinette and is very important
as it is from her...

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