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Wide Sargasso Sea

Medea VS Wide Sargasso Sea

Medea VS Wide Sargasso Sea.
1.0            Introduction
Rhys’ novel, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ is an attempt by the novelist to humanize the racially pejorative life of a West Indian mad woman, Antoinette, who, led to lead a tumultuous life by her husband, and under the watchful eyes of a servant, is transformed from a tragic demise to one of heroism and triumph. Rhys brings to her works the experience she felt as a single woman living in a patriarchal culture. She was influenced by Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, where she thought she would give life to Bertha Mason, and it was with this in mind that Rhys created Antoinette.
What Rhys does in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea,’ is to negate the patriarchal dominance by challenging Antoinette’s husband, Rochester’s tyrannical behaviour. When Mr. Mason brushes aside the martial problem of Annette’s sister, saying that it was her story, and that he didn’t believe any part of it, Rhys, through her protagonist Antoinette, targets the bullish nature of men. Rhys, through her work, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea,’ and particularly through her characterization of Antoinette, targets the struggle of women against the dictates of patriarchy. She portrays her women to be stronger than men in the novel, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’.

Euripides, born in Athens in 484 BC, was perhaps a rebel of his times. He was known to be a free thinker, and was critical of the religious practices and oppression of women and slaves. This made him write in support women and the oppressed lot; unheard of before him.
Euripedes’ ‘Medea,’ is about the protagonist’s conflict with despair and greed. Medea, who with Jason, settles in Corinth after a long series of trials and adventure, are respected and establish a family. However, things begin to change as Jason seeks to advance his position by marrying Glauce, the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. This irks Medea, who voices her grievances publicly, endangering her and her children’s lives.
Jason’s claim that his remarriage would benefit everyone was seen by Medea as being patriarchal, and she plots to take revenge on Jason, Creon and Glauce. She flees for her life with the children, only to be helped by Aegeus, King of Athens, if Medea exchanged her knowledge of certain drugs that could cure his sterility. Here too we see the patriarchal attitude of the king. Medea finds ‘justice’ when she has Glauce and Creon drinking poison. She kills her children, but fails in her justice to punish Jason. She flees the scene in a dragon-pulled chariot provided by her grandfather, the Sun-God.
2.0  Patriarchal and its essence in the novel, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’
The term patriarchal in the novel, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea,’ is analogical to the domination of men over women. The book is an attempt by Jean Rhys to hit back at male dominance, as seen in Charlotte Bronte’s, ‘Jane Eyre.’ Rhys attempts to stand up against oppression of slavery and entrapment, as seen in the incidents that take place in Wide Sargasso Sea.
The specter of slavery and entrapment pervades Wide Sargasso Sea. The ex-slaves who worked on the sugar plantations of wealthy Creoles figure prominently in Part One of the novel, which is set in the West Indies in the early nineteenth century. There are quite a few incidents that transform this young, sensitive woman to what she was at the end of the novel; a raging mad woman. First of all, Antoinette grew up without a father or the love of her mother. She was married off to an Englishman by her step-brother, Richard Mason, who offered Rochester £30,000 and rights over the girl’s inheritance.
She couldn’t stand such treatment meted to her by a man without her approval. This was patriarchal, and Antoinette couldn’t forgive him for being so rude to her weakness. The second man in her mother’s life; Mr. Mason was more than dominating. He was in love with her mother’s estate than them and left them to survive in the care of a black couple who repeatedly humiliated and mocked at her. The sufferings of her mother at the hands of Mr. Mason are reflected in Antoinette’s early recollection of her, and she speaks of Annette’s signs of madness and melancholy. Antoinette was unfortunate not to meet her mother who died when Antoinette was at the convent school.
When Annette confronts Mason to ask him to intervene on behalf of her sister, he says, “That’s her story. I don’t believe it,’ a sign to show that he supported the other man, and that what women said was just a bunch of lies. These incidents revealed the male bastion of the men around Antoinette, and this led her to rebel the patriarchal treatment meted out to her. When she is married off to Rochester, and taken to England, Rochester says to himself, “No more false heavens. No more damned magic,” in support of his desire to leave the cursed family behind and lead a peaceful life in England.
Rochester develops a relationship with Antoinette’s maid, Amelie. She openly slaps Antoinette in front of her husband, who takes no notice of this. He even offers Amelie money to as gift. Antoinette sees this as a way to get at her and show his male chauvinism. Daniel Cosway, another of Alexander Cosway’s bastard children, writes to Rochester on Antoinette’s madness. This brings to fore a quote from the book, “He has no right to that name,” said Antoinette quickly. “His real name, if he has one, is Daniel Boyd. He hates all white people, but he hates me the most. He tells lies about us and he is sure that you will believe him and not listen to the other side.”
“Is there another side?” asked Rochester.
“There is always the other side, always,” ended Antoinette. This went to show that Rochester was more inclined to believe a strange man than a woman, who was his wife.
Overall, Antoinette was fighting men for justice and thought that all men were being bossy, and thus patriarchal. She revolts in the end to fight this dominance, first biting Rochester on the arm, drawing blood. Rochester takes her to England where she is locked up in a garret. She is left there to die, looked after by a servant named Grace Poole. When Daniel came to see her, Antoinette draws a knife on him.
She follows her dream of walking out of the garret with a candle in her hand, to burn the house down with her and Rochester in it; justice delivered in the end. Annette’s pet parrot, enacted Antoinette’s own doom, when, as Antoinette recalled, “made an attempt to fly down, by the clipped wings failed him, and he fell down on fire.” Coco was left maimed, analogical to Antoinette’s own flightless dependency. This sums up the treatment meted out to Antoinette and her fall from the attic.
3.0  Patriarchal and its essence in the play, ‘Medea’
The word, Patriarchal to Medea meant greed. One sees the attitude of men towards women in their quest for power and opportune. Medea and Jason had fought bitter trials and overcome many an adventure to be together. They were well respected by all in Corinth. However, when Jason was ready to remarry for his betterment, Medea wanted to take revenge. Creon, the king of Corinth, whose daughter Jason married, heard about this, he immediately asked her to be brought to justice.
He wanted his daughter to be happy, and was not inclined to see the despair running though Medea or her children. Glauce, who knew about Medea, also showed no pity. Medea thus was forced to run for her life. She knew that she had to get justice for her grievance and plotted to kill Jason, Glace and Creon. She was fortunate to meet Aegeus, the king of Athens, who promised to protect her, provided that she gives him her knowledge of certain drugs that could cure him of his sterility.
This was also an incidence that saw Medea see men interested only in their gain. Her murder of her brother to slow the pursuers from catching them is to show that she believed that men were more worthy than women, and that the warriors would stop to give him a respected burial. She takes revenge to redeem justice for Jason’s actions. She has Glauce poisoned, and seeing his daughter dying, Creon also consumes poison and dies. Medea then kills her children; to have the pleasure of watching Jason suffer their loss. ‘Betrayal’ is what Euripides indicates as the patriarchal element in his play, ‘Medea.’
4.0  Analysis
The term ‘Patriarchal’ has a wide implication in the general sense. In the context of the two works; one by Jean Rhys on, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea,’ and the other in Euripides’, ‘Medea,’ the term has distinct meanings. This can be seen in the way the plot is developed and the role of the protagonists in overcoming them. While patriarchal to Antoinette in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ is the bullish domination of men against women, for Medea, it was betrayal for personal interest.
There is no denying the fact that both the protagonists were affected by their male partners, and had to experience hardship. But, the domination and motive to deliver ‘justice’ at the end, showed them to be more commanding and dominant in the plot. Antoinette was stronger than Daniel, her step-brother, whom she knifed, and she was more courageous in plotting to kill her, Grace and Rochester by lighting a fire to the house where she, Grace and Rochester were residing. Such mental strength was missing in the men in the novel.
Medea was powerful, and had magic to protect her. She was strong enough to kill her brother, her children, and Glause. She was definitely the stronger of the characters portrayed in the play.
5.0  Conclusion
Despite the background, and the consequence for the actions initiated by the protagonists, both Antoinette and Medea were the stronger characters in the respective works. Though the men did hurt their women physically and mentally, they were not strong enough to plot a murder. Rochester treated her shabbily and had her confined to a garret in the house for ages, causing mental torture. Jason was greedy for power and was not going to let Medea come in the way. He went ahead and married Glauce, much to Medea’s distraught. The women were more successful in the end in getting their ‘justice,’ proving them to be stronger.

Medea VS Wide Sargasso Sea

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Critique of Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea

Critique of Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea.
Source Roper, Valerie. Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea. Caribbean Quarterly, 34:1/2 (1988:Mar. /June) p. 19 URL: http://pao. chadwyck. com/PDF/1319462795559. pdf Summary In her article, “Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea” Valerie Roper asserts that Antoinette is much more than just a narrator. Antoinette tells the story of her life but also illuminates the plight and circumstances of women as increasing self awareness dawns. The duality of Antoinette’s identity represents the war within women as they struggle to assimilate their own desires, beliefs, and values with those of the paternalistic society in which they live.
Roper asserts that Wide Sargasso Sea is an attempt by Antoinette to look back and figure out where things went wrong. When did her downward spiral begin? As Antoinette tells her story, she does so with insight and understanding than can only come from time and reflection. Antoinette does not just recount her life, she also relives it. “Through her consciousness she retraces with brutal honesty her psychological journey from isolation to disintegration,” (Roper 19).
Roper further contends that Antoinette as the storyteller enabled Rhys to use varying degrees of consciousness to illustrate Antoinette’s journey and revelations. According to Roper, Antoinette’s relationship with her mother is the crux of her illness both genetically and psychologically. Her withdrawal, like her mother’s was a catalyst for her mental instability, but other factors existed as well. Roper discusses elements and scenes that Antoinette revisits which were important in her development, and ultimately in her unraveling.

The road to insanity was much more insidious for Antoinette than it had been for Annette. There were tragic, life-altering events that obviously impacted Annette’s mental condition; the death of her husband, isolation from Creole society, and ultimately Pierre’s diagnosis. For Antoinette, her mother and childhood, cultural background, psychological invasion, disorientation, and entrapment all played a pivotal role in Antoinette’s insanity. Response Roper provides an interesting context in which to interpret Rhys’ novel. Perhaps one of the more striking assertions by Roper was regarding point of view.
Roper maintains that the parts of the story told from the male point-of-view are a different level of Antoinette’s consciousness. I had not looked at it that way before and it certainly gives me pause. I had looked at it as a writing technique used by Rhys to deepen meaning and create a more balanced picture. Considering the information provided as revelations made by Antoinette on her search for answers injects a new level of complexity to the story and to Antoinette’s character. As a reader, I immediately picked up on the connection between Antoinette’s relationship with her mother and mental state. Roper, however, dove much deeper.
She makes a compelling case that “the society, and her husband, acting on their assumptions, created conditions which aggravated the existing ones and contributed to her disorientation,” (Roper 30). The genetic predisposition for insanity was there, but it was the environment around Antoinette that pushed her over the edge. Antoinette struggled not only for love and acceptance, but also for psychological independence and her own voice. The more she struggles to claim these, the deeper she drifted into abyss. Roper’s most significant argument, for me, is the purpose of Antoinette as storyteller and the role of Rhys.
She writes, “behind Antoinette’s dramatic re-experiencing is Rhys the producer and director, the puppeteer who manipulates her puppet to tell the tragic story of a woman who was aware of complexity but was unable to realize her real feminine personality” (Roper 33). While there were similarities between the lives of Rhys and the character she created, Roper’s argument made me consider the more universal story Rhys was telling. Through Antoinette, Rhys challenges the impact of patriarchy on women. It reveals far more than simply rule by men; it illuminates the internal struggle to find self.
Further Research Since a great deal of Antoinette’s struggle’s deal with her search for identity and acceptance, additional research on Creole society and emancipation add another layer of comprehension to Wide Sargasso Sea. It would further develop the sense of society and the interaction of whites and blacks, but it would also provide context for the journey of discovery and self-awareness that Roper asserts is a vital part of the underlying theme throughout the novel. Historical information would fill in the blanks about the role of England on Jamaican society and the natives’ reaction to it.

Critique of Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea.
WIDE SARGASSO SEA Spoiled Rose A child is a reflection of their parents becoming a product of their environment. Childhood is the most crucial stage in life, for this is when a child is most impressionable. What is experienced, felt, and taught is what shapes a child into who they will become upon entering adulthood. Antoinette (Bertha) Mason from Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea, is victim to mental injury, forced to grow up on her own, feeling out of place without the love and care of her mother.
The loneliness and hurt she felt at a young age imprisoned her to a life of unhappiness. Eventually madness took over her which mushroomed furthermore in her arranged marriage to Mr. Rochester, who unravels her already precarious mental state. He drives her to the point where Bertha decides to take her life, believing in a deluded state it is her destiny. Her tragic life reveals the importance of growing up in a stable home environment, especially in her day, and location, given her social status and race, growing up stable was not a basket of roses considering her circumstances.
Early on, we learn of Antoinette’s family life, with the absence of her father all she has is her mother and younger brother who suffers from a learning disabled state which prevents her from bonding with him. Then there is Christophine who is their servant, a black obeah woman who becomes of great influence to her, as well as Tia her brief and only childhood friend who is of African descent. Her mother is very distant with her, only paying attention to her sick brother.

Although she was not physically abused, Antoinette suffered severe emotional abuse due to un-acceptance of others as well as neglect and lack of love from her Mother, which in some cases is more harmful because it goes unnoticed until it becomes too late. According to an article exploring the nature of victim and victimizer emotional abuse is a silent attacker. “Emotional abuse (psychological abuse, verbal abuse, and mental injury) includes acts or omissions that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders” (Banks).
At a young age we can see Antoinette is susceptible to these symptoms. For example her mother would shove her away when shed try to get close, “calmly, coldly, without a word” as Antoinette was “useless” (Rhys 11). This lack of being loved can affect her judgment of what love truly is, because she never properly received it. According to a file in the National library of Health- NHS Evidence, Children may experience a number of different emotional disorders. Behavioral issues such as avoidance of feared activities as well as clinginess or reluctance to separate from trusted adults may arise (NHS).
At a young age we can see Antoinette is susceptible to these symptoms. As she wakes up early one morning she finds her mother’s horse dead “I ran away and did not speak of it for I thought if I told no one it might not be true. ”(Rhys 10) When faced with troubled situations, she runs away and in a cognitive state, she reasons with herself denying a current situation is not real. Burying her reality is a defense mechanism she has built and constantly uses into adulthood in order cope when faced with unsettling realities, distorting her perception, memory and judgment.
Antoinette also grows very fond of Christophine, as she is the only one who seems to genuinely care for her, Antoinette grows attached to her, feeling a security when she has christophine around because she is the only one who respects and protects the Cosways. Additionally growing up in Jamaica just after the emancipation act of 1833 during a harsh time combating slavery and rights, Antoinette found it difficult to fit in and find some sense of identity. She was a beautiful young white skinned Creole girl, daughter to ex-slave and plantation owners, surrounded by mainly blacks and few rich whites.
Although she came from a wealthy background, as she grew up her mother was not financially doing well and was fairly close to losing their plantation. Evidently her and her family was despised. She was not accepted by the black community surrounding her and underwent racism having to constantly be called a “white cockroach” (Rhys 13) by the black community. The few whites in the area also frowned upon her and her family for not being of true English descent.
So although she lived in a Calibri estate surrounded by beautiful nature and ocean sun filled days, on the inside she felt out of place, fearful and lonely. Her only childhood friend Tia betrayed her leaving her further damaged by stealing her clothes and pennies, while out one day swimming unsupervised. A child needs friends and interaction with others in order to communicate and be socially inclined. Things seem to turn around for Antoinette, when her mother marries Mr. Mason, a wealthy English man, who decides to stay and renovate Coulibri.
Unfortunately racial tensions arose among recent freed black slaves, escalading to a protest that ends in catastrophe. Their home gets burned down with torches; her brother injured fatally passes away, leading her mother to fully manifest insanity due to the event. At this point Antoinette’s life drastically changes she is injured and sick for several weeks. She is faced with death once more by the passing of her brother and loses her mother as she becomes mentally unstable and dies; Mr. Mason abandons them leaving Jamaica while traveling.
Antoinette is sent to live in a catholic convent ran by nuns. As you can imagine this was very hard for Antoinette, although she was surrounded by others she was left their isolated. In the convent she grows a fascination with death, since it is something she is used to she begins to like the dark ominous part of religion and death. I believe Antoinette suppresses all the calamities she has had to deal with till that point. Life has not been kind to her and despite of it she still manages to keep it together although she becomes a docile human being.
When she finally reaches the age of seventeen Mr. Mason visits her more and finally removes her from the convent and introduces her to his English friends. Upon this happening an arranged marriage is what is in store for Antoinette. She is married to Mr. Rochester; their marriage is more like a business pact because they do not marry on the base of love. It is apparent Mr. Rochester marries Antoinette merely for her riches. She is not in love with him but do to her docile way she becomes intoxicated with the idea of Love and having a male companion.
At first Mr. Rochester is amorous with Antoinette, upon finding out about her past, which he was not aware of his attitude and view towards Antoinette changes. His indifference towards her, affects her deeply as she becomes distressed. She looks to Christophine for help, who unknowingly makes the situation with herself and husband worse. Gradually Antoinette begins to drink more, making her act out violently. Alcohol distorts the mind and suppressed feelings she has kept hidden arise.
The fact that her husband had no real love or apathy for her austerely depressed her and made her sick, she became emotionally unstable. Due to the era they were in, divorce was not easy to achieve. Upon marrying Mr. Rochester She basically became his property along with all of her wealth. She was trapped and depended on her husband. She had no control of her life and she was going the same route her mother went. Mr. Rochester constantly called Antoinette Bertha, which affected her because it was not what she went by, this Bertha finally manifested herself in Antoinette. Mr.
Rochester’s disdain and abandonment was the climax to Antoinette’s insanity, as she was isolated and locked in an attic. Throughout her life Antoinette suffered multiple losses, her mental health got worse as she transitioned into an adult. Her mood was low and depressing, she barely ate, and she became delusional by believing in her dreams as a true reality. I think anyone in her position would go insane and prefer to die than live in such a horrible reality. As a child she had not one positive role model to look up to, primarily her mother is at fault with how Antoinette’s life came to be.
She could have been a real mother and been loving and supportive towards her daughter who always needed her. Childhood is the most vital part of life; this is when a child needs to be in a positive loving environment. Otherwise a child becomes a dysfunctional part of society as an adult, causing harm to oneself or others. Due to the treatment she received as a child, she had very low self esteem and no self worth; always accepting situations when all along she could have changed her destiny, if only she was not so weak.
Ironically she turned out weak just like her mother, unknowingly becoming mentally ill, leading to the loss of her life. The beautiful rose she was turned black as death, never fully blooming. Works cited Banks, Ron. Focus Adolescent Services. “Bullying What Parents and Teachers Should Know. ” EECE Publications, Digest EDO-PS-97-17 www. focusas. com NHS, National Electronic Library for Health. “Isolation and Mental Health” http://www. library. nhs. uk/mentalhealth/ Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Books Ltd: Middlesex, England, 1966).

Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea

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