Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (1966)


Wide Sargasso Sea is a 1966 novel by Dominica-born British author Jean Rhys. The author lived in obscurity after her previous work, Good Morning, Midnight, was published in 1939. She had published other novels between these works, but Wide Sargasso Sea caused a revival of interest in Rhys and her work and was her most commercially successful novel. It is a feminist and anti-colonial response to Charlotte Brontë‘s novel Jane Eyre (1847), describing the background to Mr Rochester’s marriage from the point-of-view of his mad wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress. Antoinette Cosway is Rhys’ version of Brontë’s devilish ‘madwoman in the attic‘. Antoinette’s story is told from the time of her youth in Jamaica, to her unhappy marriage to a certain unnamed English gentleman, who renames her Bertha, declares her mad, and then takes her to England. Antoinette is caught in an oppressive patriarchal society in which she neither fully belongs to the Europe nor Jamaica. Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power relationships between men and women and develops postcolonial themes, such as racism, displacement and assimilation. The novel, initially set in Jamaica, opens a short while after the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on 1 August 1834. The protagonist Antoinette relates the story of her life from childhood to her arranged marriage to an unnamed Englishman. … Since the late 20th century, critics have considered Wide Sargasso Sea as a postcolonial response to Jane Eyre. Rhys uses multiple voices (Antoinette’s, her husband’s, and Grace Poole’s) to tell the story, and intertwines her novel’s plot with that of Jane Eyre. In addition, Rhys makes a postcolonial argument when she ties Antoinette’s husband’s eventual rejection of Antoinette to her Creole heritage (a rejection shown to be critical to Antoinette’s descent into madness). The novel is also considered a feminist work, as it deals with unequal power between men and women, particularly in marriage. Antoinette and her family had been slave owners up until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 and subsequently lost their wealth. … In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys draws attention to colonialism and the slave trade by which Antoinette ancestors had made their fortune. …”
Wikipedia
W – Jean Rhys
Jean Rhys Had to Leave Her Home to Truly See It
amazon

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, Feminist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s