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- Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the Silence and the Voice
- Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the Silence and the Voice
- The Postcolonial Rewriting of Colonial Stories: Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (eBook, PDF)
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Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the Silence and the Voice
The story of Antoinette or Bertha is not only a retelling of a story or viewing the other side of a story, but rather it is an attempt to explore and expose the narcissism and patriarchy of the Victorian society concerning the other. Key words: self, other, patriarchy, alienation, social restraints, trauma, individuality. It is a focused study of the sense of displacement experienced by the self as a result of existing in a world of denial, negation and oppression. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell: it groveled, seemingly, on all four; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hides its head and face.
Jane Eyre, p. Jane is the Victorian figure who struggles for feminism to maintain the emotional and spiritual satisfaction in a society dominated by males. During the nineteenth-century, female were voiceless and has no rights to express themselves. Jane reconciles herself to slavery of being a odalisque in her subjection that is adored by the Victorian male.
She willingly uses the simile of master-slave relationship to describe her bondage to Mr. The Victorian male and due to the industrial revolution and the prestige of the British Empire Doyle was dictated to tolerate and play an uncomfortable role that is not his own but was urgently required by society. In this context, Jane and Rochester can be seen as the victims of the English normalcy conventions and the norms of the Victorian society that subjugate both to a prison- like status that is drawn and designed for them coercively where no attempt to break is allowed.
Neither Rochester nor Jane is capable of rejecting these norms or protesting against the social instructions that dictate a role for them to play indisputably. As a Victorian female, Jane is forcefully dictated to be the negatively compliant character that has no right or no voice and to succumb to the uncomfortable social norms. Rochester is the Victorian male who has to be what society chooses for him to be not what he chooses to be. She is instructed by the social conventions of the time what to be, what to dream and what to feel not what does she want or wish.
The first reference to the Victorian female blinded obedience can be seen in the opening chapters of Jane Eyre with John Reed, a symbolic figure of the Victorian society, who treated the child Jane violently and wanted her to call him her master.
As a mature individual, Jane has proven that she cannot stand by herself, she cannot act without Rochester's love and care because Rochester represents the center and the focus of Jane's romantic "quest" Friedman which renders herself inferior and insufficient. The reality of Rochester is fully exposed by Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea not only as a colonial figure who appropriates the wealth and belongings of others, but also as a patriarchal, selfish and a character with unstable personality.
Ellen G. Like any Victorian, he lives at odds with the prevailing idea of being the superior and the fittest to control and lead. Rhys presents him as a hateful character whose main concern not only to control Antoinette and her wealth but also he insists on uprooting her identity and individuality.
He does not have any connection what so ever with people around him or the environment as well and he treats them as invisible and none-existent. This notion is notified clearly when both Rochester and Antoinette are in their journey to their honeymoon house. They stopped at a village called Massacre. Rochester shows aspects of contempt and dislike to the place and all villagers. The sense of strangeness and suspicion within himself is due to his deep rejection of the other.
Rochester now is inside a world that not only offers him no hospitality but resists his presence. Such a state of disturbance and uneasiness increases his feeling of hatred and contempt to those surround him including his wife Antoinette. He becomes violently defensive as he attempts to negate and delegitimize Antoinette: I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain.
I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.
Wide Sargasso Sea, p. He left England as a younger son of the landed gentry with no money of his own and started his journey into the outside world looking for a land that provides him with wealth and rich. Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea gives him no name. This indicates that Rochester has no identity or being but through his connection to his wife Antoinette.
His first interaction with the native people reveals his level of misunderstanding and misreading the native people. Rochester's voice is heard for the first time in part two. In this part, we find him making a despairing attempt to locate himself and control the sense of dispersal, fragmentation and loss he experiences.
With the patriarchal, oppressive and sadistic authority, Rochester colonizes, imprisons Bertha in her dark attic at Thornfield and deprives her from her real name and her identity.
It is the same strategy enacted by Robinson Crusoe who enslaved and deprived the colonized native from his identity and name, giving him a new name and new history, "I made him know his name should be Friday, which was the day I saved his life; I called him so for the memory of the time; I likewise taught him to say Master, and then let him know, that was to be my name. Robinson Crusoe, p. This pervasive atmosphere of female oppression symbolizes the colonial project that suppresses the native land.
It is not unreasonable to believe that such brutal act provokes anger, protest and revolution. It is the state of anger which manifests female resistance against oppression which, in the case of Bertha, represented by conflagration, burning and fire as the scorching flames in both novels represents the burst against oppression, injustice and slavery of patriarchy.
The injustice of oppression and patriarchy is like a plague that requires an act of complete termination and that cannot be done but by fire only. The intensified level of ambiguities and peculiarities is necessary for the colonizer to hide reality. In Jane Eyre, Mrs. That is why, according to Mrs. The mysterious and ambiguous architecture of Thornfield Hall with its Bluebeard corridors suggests the mysteries of its owner.
Rochester and his sinful past which he tries to hide intensifying the dimness of his mansion. This image contradicts the space where Antoinette used to locate and find herself in. Nature is her ultimate truth and her dwelling space. The openness and the clarity of nature ease her sense of injustice and cruelty of her world. Antoinette could not find the sense of belonging in her world, but she finds in nature: A bamboo spout jutted the cliff; the water coming from it was silver blue.
She dismounted quickly, picked a large shamrock-shaped leaf to make a cup, and drank. Then she picked another leaf, folded it and brought it to me. Too much blue, too much green. He not only has no connection to the land that provides him with wealth and gives him the proper position as a gentleman, but also he drives his wife away from the place she is deeply attached to and loves.
The place where she can feel her real belonging: Do you know what you have done to me? I loved this place and you have made it into a place I hate. I used to think that if everything else went out of my life I would still have this, and now you have spoilt it. She proves that she is not the negated other and the insane animal with no existence or individuality Spivake She decides to use the flames of fire to shed light on the darkness of patriarchy and the racial resentment conducted by a colonial figure even if this fire will lead to her demise.
In spite of Mr. Such a sense of fragmentation and dispersal is intensified by her experience of being enslaved by the oppression of patriarchy when she becomes Mr. Rochester's wife. The complicated situation that Antoinette suffers stems from the sense of guilt that results from her being born in a colonial family that plays its part in colonizing and exploiting black people in the West Indies. To reduce this sense of guilt and pain, Antoinette tries to be in company with the victims of slavery to ease and calm the voice of conscious within herself.
Tia, her black friend in the Indies from whom she learns so much is the closest one to her. Christophine is the black strong, but sensitive, maid at the family house who used to take care and treat Antoinette as a mother by singing her French-flavored evening songs Russell With those songs, Antoinette feels the sense of home and warmth that never experiences with her own mother.
Antoinette herself experiences the same bad treatment from her husband who treats her indifferently and negatively. The novel speaks about a period after the act of emancipation of the slaves. It was an uneasy time when racial relations in the Caribbean were at their most strained. In such tension, Antoinette the child senses the feeling of resentment expressed by the blacks against her and all the white people.
She is a descended of plantation owners, a daughter of another despotic sultan father who has had many children by Negro women. She is not accepted either by the Negro community or by the colonists. Patriarchy and oppression by the authority of male is challenged and brought to light by Antoinette who takes the responsibility of freeing all the females from their slavery and subordinate.
Antoinette takes the responsibility of opening long-time locked doors of unexplored history to uncover the injustices and exploitations against those who have been labeled as the other for having a different color. Antoinette's enthusiastic represents a daring struggle to free and release feminism from its long isolated attic confinement. The difference between the Victorian representative and the Caribbean becomes more extensive and apparent.
Yet but this theme is within the limited contextual frame work of the world she was living in. A world that is doomed with endless search for a ground of identity in a world that has been by the exploitive colonizer.
Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the Silence and the Voice
Antoinette and Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea 1. Communication Problems 4. The Road Towards Madness. She is depicted as a mere beast, bent on destroying her husband. Jean Rhys proposed a past for Bertha and her husband. Wide Sargasso Sea creates a life for Bertha, on the background of which her madness is neither surprising nor inevitable.
Wide Sargasso Sea. The popularity and influence of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is difficult to overestimate. Not only has this novel had a clear and major.
The Postcolonial Rewriting of Colonial Stories: Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (eBook, PDF)
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