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Rochester In Duigan´S Wide Sargasso Sea

2505 words - 10 pages

John Duigan’s film, Wide Sargasso Sea, a movie adaptation of the Jean Rhys novel superficially contains steamy sex scenes, a troubled romance, and conflicting cultures. However, if one looks beyond initial appearances, one can see an interesting character development that importantly directs the story. Duigan manages to highlight this character quite well. He portrayed him well enough that I begin to notice a development that otherwise I would have not seen. It is easy to get lost in this story by looking only at the character of Antoinette because it is she that gets the most focus. However, it is important to direct your focus on Rochester. The character of Rochester in the film demonstrates one’s journey to manhood and control. It is my interest in this paper to examine the qualities of his characters and the progressive transformation that he goes through. The character development of Antoinette that I see as regressive is dependent on the direct progression of Rochester. She is an instrument for his own formation of an identity. His character seems rather parasitic; as he gains power and strength, she becomes weak and fragile.
The audience is introduced to Rochester when he journeys from England to Jamaica on a ship. He questions about the kelp hat had engulfed a man. Mason notes that the Wide Sargasso Sea is a graveyard. On Rochester’s face we can see worry about the upcoming culture and environment that he is about to face. He is not confident and conquering like other Englishman that have come before him. One can recognize this when he talks to himself about what expectations the woman he was meeting would have of him. He can only hope to not get sucked in by the lush environment.
Rochester is an Englishman who goes to Jamaica for a marriage arrangement with Antoinette Cosway. He is disinherited by his father due to the custom of primogeniture where the first born inherits the entire estate. This was a Norman tradition to keep the estate whole and strong. His position as the second child requires him to look elsewhere for wealth with the help of a long time family friend, Mr. Mason. Rochester finds his pot of gold with Antoinette who was left the estate after her mother was labeled “crazy.” Aunt Cora, aunt to Antoinette, addresses her worry with Rochester’s goals with Antoinette. She is concerned that he is an English pirate, only looking to steal Antoinette’s money and escape back to his homeland. She also addresses his manhood. She questions what kind of man needs Antoinette for her wealth. If he was a credible man, he would have his own fortune. Rochester’s need to find wealth is emasculating. Women are often seen as the gender that needs to look for wealth and protection. Rochester takes on the stigma of femininity as one “sold” by a father as a means of establishing his competence as a man. Without an estate and personal wealth, Rochester does not fall into the stereotypical whole male subject. He...

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