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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

  1. 1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Yesha Bhatt Department of English M K Bhavnagar University
  2. 2. Jean Rhys (1890 – 1979) • Jean Rhys was a British novelist who was born and grew up in the Caribbean island. • Novelist – Short-story writer – essayist • She was writing under the genre of Modernism and postmodernism • Famous for – Good Morning, Midnight and Wide Sargasso Sea • Stream of consciousness • Smile Please – An unfinished Autobiography
  3. 3. Wide Sargasso Sea • 1966 Novel with Post-colonial point of view • Feminist prequel to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847) • Antoinette Cosway is Rhys's version of Brontë's devilish "madwoman in the attic“ • Antoinette is caught in a patriarchal society in which she fully belongs neither to Europe nor to Jamaica • Explores power of relationships between men and women and discusses • Explores Caribbean history and assimilation. • Setting – Jamaica – 1830s – Emancipation act – 1833 – Slavery abolition act
  4. 4. Jane Eyre - 1847 Jane Eyre Mr. Edward Rochester Bessie Lee (Maid) Mrs. Reed • Jane's childhood at Gateshead Hall, where she is emotionally and physically abused by her aunt and cousins; • Her education at Lowood School, where she gains friends and role models but suffers privations and oppression; - Mr. Brocklehurst • Her time as governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her mysterious employer, Edward Fairfax Rochester; - Grace – Bertha Antoinetta Mason- Richard Mason • Her time in the Moor House, during which her earnest but cold clergyman cousin, St. John Rivers, proposes to her; - Cousins – Mr. Eyre 20 thousand pounds • Ultimately her reunion with, and marriage to, her beloved Rochester. - Son of Jane and Edward Mr. Mason
  5. 5. Characters • Annette (Mother of Antoinette) • Tia (Black girl, cheated Antoinette) • Pierre (Insane brother) • Daniel Cosway (Step brother of Antoinette) • Amelie (Maid) • Bertha (Husband renamed Antoinette) • Grace Poole (Caretaker) Antoinette Cosway Christophine (Nurse) Mr. Richard Mason (Step father of Antoinette) Mr. Rochester Wide Sargasso Sea
  6. 6. Plot Construction Part one: • Childhood at Jamaica • Narrated by Antoinette as child • They became poor and she lost her father • Annette was in shock but married Mr. Mason (A wealthy man to get security of life • Slaves (After abolition act) got wilder and burnt the house of Anette and Pierre (Insane brother) died. • Anette never recovered from this second shock and Manson sent her to the couple who tortured her a lot. • She died Part two: • Point of view of Antoinette and her husband • Antoinette has accepted the proposal of her step father to get married and she started living with her husband • Husband was interested in Antoinette’s money and clashes began from the honeymoon • Daniel (Illegitimate half – brother) spoils reputation of Antoinette – (Madness) • Christophine dislikes Husband – He is abusive and keeps affair to hurt Antoinette and started calling her Bertha • Obeah Potion from Christophine – Potion fails – they went England
  7. 7. Part three: • Narration by Antoinette • As Bertha – “The attic” of Thornfield Hall • Grace Poole – servant • Husband hides her from the world – does not visit her – relationships with other women – with young governess • Antoinette gone mad and forget the time she spent with husband and in house • In dream she saw flames around her and thought that is the way of freedom for her… and she sets fire in the house (Stream of Consciousness Antoinetta Cosway Husband
  8. 8. Themes • Post colonialism • Postcolonial response to Jane Eyre • Rejection of Husband because of Creole identity – connected it with madness by husband • Marriage – unequal distribution of power between man and woman • Condition of Women as rejected wife • Implied madness • Feminism + Colonialism • Mix-raced population – white owners were harassing Black female slaves by raping and impregnating – Daniel and Sandi Cosway (illegitimate sons of Alexander Cosway Slavery and Ethnicity • Slavery abolition act – No compensation to slaves – ignorance towards black identity – slaves – Antoinette’s family becomes poor • “White nigger” – because of poverty • Antoinette as Creole (lang. + identity) • Female as slave to male (Perspective) • Dependency complex in female • Annette and Antoinette both are depended upon males – Husband - Father • Ethnicity - A perceived cultural distinctiveness • Group of slaves put fire in the house of Annette
  9. 9. • Womanhood – slavery • Annette and Antoinette • Male dominance over both female characters • Desire to get loved and respected by male • Objectifying female characters – Annette and Antoinette – Money • Slave – Female – Desire to get freedom • Women have no rights – Patriarchal society • Suppression of slaves and women characters Racial impacts – Land • Postcolonial aspect by giving Caribbean land and master-slave relations • Jamaica represents rawness of nature – Antoinette – modified by husband – unable to do that – destroys it. • White nigger – English of Jamaica and Antoinette’s English • Creole identity – language as tool • Place in society – slaves – Women - male
  10. 10. • Versions of Reality • Narrators are having their point of views • Different aspects of reality – perspectives • All characters are involved • Multiple versions of truth • Incidents are with manipulation • Madness is implied more than having a genetic roots • Grace’s observation towards madness and Husband’s reaction towards madness Feminism • Jane Eyre vs Antoinette • Angel in house to madwoman in attic • Freedom leads to rebellion – rebellion to captivity – Captivity leads to madness • Desires of Annette and Antoinette • Tendency of overpower female identity by male identity • Female as helpless • Angel to evil • To Construct - to destroy
  11. 11. The Madwomen in the Attic • The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth- Century Literary Imagination is a 1979 book by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in which they examine Victorian literature from a feminist perspective. • Attic = cage Women were being caged by the patriarchal society. Dominated behavior of male towards female • Marriage Need for financial support – social status – money – inheritance – Luxurious life (Victorian era) – post colonial point of view • Madness – Annette – traumatic past – ignorance – deaths – tortured – died • Madness - Antoinette - Implied – harassed – ignorance of husband – no love – being cheated – snatched identity (Bertha) – locked persona – dreaming – illusion – hallucination – traumatic tendencies of loneliness • Victorian women were “Angel in House” – “Madwomen in Attic” • Feminist literary criticism
  12. 12. Stream of Consciousness • Jean Rhys has applied stream of consciousness in the novel by presenting shifting point of views • First part is containing the point of view of Antoinette and how she is dealing with all traumatic experiences of her life. • Second part is with the point of view of Husband and what he feels about Antoinette and why he hates her. Later Antoinette again takes the point of view on her part. • In the third part Grace tells about the condition of Antoinette and how she is falling in madness and forgets everything. • The last section of third part there is a dream sequence of Antoinette, which she applies later on in real life. • This reveals the mindsets of characters and what they think in particular situation about particular character.
  13. 13. Pastoral identity – Post colonialism • Novel starts in Caribbean region and end at same point • It has depicted the rustic life and survival issues of the slaves and other character who face difficulties • Postcolonial ecocriticism – Nature – rawness – animals – environment • Identity – displacement – refugee – return • Pastoral – antipastoral sides in novel • English as language – creole • Coulibri – Jamaica – Dominica • Antoinette – Nature – rawness • Husband – antipastoral – unnatural
  14. 14. Thank You

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