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Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea Essay

1124 words - 5 pages

Taylor Grube
4/22/14
C.Zorn
L102
Wide Sargasso Sea

The Creoles in Wide Sargasso Sea are outcasts. They live with a divided identity and distance from the world. After the death of Antoinette’s father their behavior nearly causes their entire world to crumble. The family suffers greatly due to their distance from the rest of the world. The purpose of this paper is to show you the family’s divided identities and how it effects their everyday life, along with the consequences that follow.
Antoinette, the main character and the daughter of ex-slave owners, is a far cry from rational and self-restrained. Antoinette is a sensitive and lonely young Creole girl who grows up without the love of her mother and peers friendship. Left mainly to her own devices as a child, Antoinette turns inward, finding that the world can be both peaceful and frightening. In school as a young girl, Antoinette becomes increasingly isolated, showing the first signs of her inherited emotional instability.
Her arranged marriage pains her, and she tries to call it off, feeling intuitively that she will be hurt. Undeniably, the marriage is an incompatibility of culture and custom. She and her English husband, Mr. Rochester, fail to relate to one another; and her past deeds, specifically her childhood relationship with a half-caste brother, sullies her husband's view of her. Ultimately, her husband brings her to England and locks her in the attic, assigning a servant woman to watch over her.
In Antoinette we see the potential dangers of a wild imagination and an acute sensitivity. Her restlessness and instability seem to come from her failure to belong to any individual community. An outcast within her own family, a "white cockroach" to her disrespectful servants, and a quirk in the eyes of her own husband, Antoinette cannot find a peaceful place for herself.
Mr. Rochester, Antoinette's young husband, narrates more than a third of the novel, telling, in his own words, the story of Antoinette's mental downfall. He is pressured into marrying Antoinette, although he has only just met her and knows nothing of her family. He soon notices the mistake he made when they are on their honeymoon on one of the Windward Islands. In time, they move back to England, where Rochester locks his mad wife in an upstairs attic. In the novel he is the nameless maker and, as a white man, his power and privilege allow him to bestow identity on others. For example, he decides to rename his wife "Bertha" in an attempt to distance her from her outrageous mother. Later on, he takes away Antoinette's voice and refuses to listen to her side of stories. As he continues to break apart her individuality, he creates the new name of "Marionetta," which is a cruel joke that reflects Antoinette's doll-like plasticity. He eventually turns Antoinette into a crazed mad woman and treats her as a ghost. After having completely rejected his Creole wife and her native traditions, Rochester exaggerates his own...

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