Table of Contents Plot Overview Antoinette's story begins when she is a young girl in early nineteenth- century Jamaica. The white daughter of ex-slave owners, she lives on a run-down plantation called Coulibri Estate.
Plot[ edit ] The novel, initially set in Jamaica, opens a short while after the Slavery Abolition Act ended slavery in the British Empire on 1 August The novel is in three parts: Part One takes place in Coulibri, Jamaica, and is narrated by Antoinette as a child.
As Annette had been struggling with her mental health up until this point, the grief of losing her son weakens her sanity.
Mason sends her to live with a couple who torment her until she dies and Antoinette does not see her again. Part Two alternates between the points of view of Antoinette and her husband during their honeymoon excursion to Granbois, Dominica.
His apparent belief in the stories about Antoinette family and past aggravate the situation; her husband is unfaithful and emotionally abusive. He begins to call her Bertha rather than her real name and flaunts his affairs in front of her to cause her pain.
Antoinette returns home but the love potion acts like a poison on her husband. Part Three is the shortest part of the novel; it is from the perspective of Antoinette, renamed by her husband as Bertha.
She is largely confined to "the attic" of Thornfield Hallthe mansion she calls the "Great House". The story traces her relationship with Grace Poole, the servant who is tasked with guarding her, as well as her disintegrating life with the Englishman, as he hides her from the world.
He makes empty promises to come to her more but sees less of her. He ventures away to pursue relationships with other women—and eventually with the young governess.
It is clear that Antoinette is mad and has little understanding of how much time she has been confined. She fixates on options of freedom including her stepbrother Richard who, however, will not interfere with her husband, so she attacks him with a stolen knife. Expressing her thoughts in stream of consciousnessAntoinette dreams of flames engulfing the house and her freedom from the life she has there, and believes it is her destiny to fulfill the vision.
Waking from her dream she escapes her room, sets the fire. Major themes[ edit ] Since the late 20th century, critics have considered Wide Sargasso Sea as a postcolonial response to Jane Eyre.
The novel is also considered a feminist work, as it deals with unequal power between men and women, particularly in marriage. Race[ edit ] Antoinette and her family had been slave owners up until the Slavery Abolition Act and subsequently lost their wealth.
Rochester, as an Englishman, looks down on Antoinette because she is a Creole. Antoinette is not English and yet her family history privilege her as a white woman. Antoinette is rebuffed by violence from Tia leading to her seeing Tia "as if I saw myself.
Like in a looking glass". Erwin argues that "even as she claims to be seeing "herself," she is simultaneously seeing the other, that which only defines the self by its separation from it, in this case literally by means of a cut.
Trevor Hope remarks that the "triumphant conflagration of Thornfield Hall in Wide Sargasso Sea may at one level mark a vengeful attack upon the earlier textual structure". The destruction of Thornfield Hall occurs in both novels; however, Rhys epitomises the fire as a liberating experience for Antoinette.
If, then, Thornfield Hall represents domestic ideas of Britishness, then Hope suggests Wide Sargasso Sea is "taking residence inside the textual domicile of empire in order to bring about its disintegration or even, indeed, its conflagration. Named by Time as one of the best English-language novels since In Wide Sargasso Sea,Jean Rhys’s portrayal of the reactions that characters display to aggression from external sources is achieved through her constructive use of dialogue and introspection, in consonance with the specific and deliberate behavioral attributes she assigns to these characters.
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The Bookworm offers in-house book clubs that you can attend when the featured books fit your interests and schedule. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (), the last novel by this Dominican-British author, is a prequel and response to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Literary Ladies Guide Inspiration for Writers and Readers from Classic Women Authors. Having always been an avid lover of Jane Eyre, picking it apart in Eng. Lit.
A-level was a painful and disillusioning experience, as Charlotte Bronte's startling racism is exposed, and you realise just how annoying Jane really is. Jean Rhys, originally Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, was a Caribbean novelist who wrote in the mid 20th century. Her first four novels were published during the s and s, but it was not until the publication of Wide Sargasso Sea in that she emerged as a significant literary figure/5(K).