Jean Rhy’s novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, is an intuitive reply to Charlotte Bronte’s treatment of Mr. Rochester’s mad first wife, Bertha, in her typical Victorian novel. Part I depicts the childhood and adulthood of the main character, Antoinette Cosway. Language is not just an intermediate for communicating feelings and speculations, but a civil factor in society that outlines the effects of characters.A child is a representation of their parents developing into a product of their environment. Childhood is the most critical phase in life, for this is when a child is most gullible.
What is perceived, accomplished and educated is what makes a child into who they will grow into when they enter adulthood. Antoinette(Bertha) Mason, is a victim to psychological injury, compelled to take care and grow up on her own, feeling left out without the tender love and care of her Mother. Antoinette says, You can pretend for a long time, but one day it all falls away and you are alone.
We are alone in the most beautiful place in the world (Rhys, 1996:28) (I.1.1.28). The loneliness and pain she felt at a very young age blocked her away from a life of happiness to a life of unhappiness. At the beginning of the novel, the reader is exposed to Antoinette’s family life, with her father not being present, all she has is her disabled brother whom she cannot bond with, and her mother.Fire was added to the fuel when madness took charge in her arranged marriage to Mr. Rochester. Moreover, this solves her already beloved psychological condition. This made Antoinette believe that death will be her key to destiny. She says, She had left me thirsty all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it (Rhys, 1996: 20) (I.1.2.20). At this point, this makes the reader disagree with Antoinette’s actions. Suicide is never an option, one has a bright future which may not seem so clear, but trust, it’s there even if they cannot see it right now. Antoinette was not physically abused but instead suffered relentless abuse. This is caused by the unacceptance of others and the negligence from her Mother. According to an article, analyzing the description of victim and victimizer emotional abuse is a silent killer, Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional or mental disorders (Banks, 1961: 90).As Antoinette senses, she comes of age and the reader knows that her life is going to take a massive turn for the negative. Mr. Manson says to her, You can’t be hidden away all your life, she thinks, Why not?, and the readers heart is bleeding on her behalf. She experiences sudden dismay, sadness and loss (Rhys, 1996: 38). However, the untamed refinement of the Cailbri estate provided Antoinette a getaway from her struggles. This estate was not a secure and safe home she can live in. She further states that, Watching the red and yellow flowers in the sun thinking of nothing, it was as if a door opened and I was somewhere else, something else. Not myself any longer (Rhys, 1996: 38) (I.1.3.38). It is evident here that Antoinette gets to the point where forgets about her problems, a point where she doesn’t prevail, to the point where she is not human and therefore that is not a good thing. Antoinette’s fatal life exposes the importance of growing up in a stable and healthy home environment.The novel questions the theme of power by viewing factors such as slavery, marriage, and empire. No more slavery! She has to laugh! (Rhys, 1996: 25) (I.1.3.25). These factors are all ways in which an individual or a group of individualism prevails. For Antoinette and her Mother, marriage is a constitutional agreement that develops into their economic privilege. The novel shows how the island colonies implemented a wealthy livelihood to England, the chair of regal capability. Of course they have their own misfortunes. Still waiting for this compensation the English promised when the Emancipation Act was passed Some will wait for a long time (Rhys, 1996: 3) (I.1.1.3). The novel depicts the historical mood of the novel by exposing the Emancipation Act at the beginning and first page of the novel.Language symbolizes a character’s place in society as when the black characters make use of local speech of English that comes across as broken or offensive to the white characters. It can demonstrate the introduction of a foreign or exotic force, as when Christophine communicates in patios, an accent of French used in the Caribbean. In the form of hearsay or deceit, language can influence as much concern and disbelief as a definite intimidation, and it can spread unnecessary drama that may turn the lives of people. It was their talk about Christophine that changed Coulibri, not the repairs or the new furniture the strange faces. Their talk about Christophine and obeah changed it (Rhys, 1996: 1) (I.1.6.1). As the center of language itself, the novel fights with the medium, illustrating attention to the various ways stories can be received and told. This is evident when Christophine says, and though she could speak good English if she wanted to, and French as well as patois, she took care to talk as they talked (Rhys, 1996: 9) (I.1.2.9). Therefore, it is evident that gossip has power as the voice of the community.The cultural identity is analyzed through the representative meaning of names. Obviously one cannot turn a proper name into a pure and simple reference. It has other indicative function: more than an indication, a gesture, a finger pointed at someone, it is the equivalent of a description (Foucault, 1961: 20). The man that Antoinette marries is Rochester. Now, when the name of the mysterious man is revealed, the real question is, Why does Rochester rename Antoinette Bertha (Rhys, 1996: 88). I wish to argue that the man we refer to as Rochester calls Antoinette Bertha because naming places the power of the relationship in his own hands: in this way, Rochester is othering Antoinette (Tyson, 2004: 420). The same Bertha is a dull name, compared to the fascinating name of Antoinette. However, Rochester also refers to Antoinette as Bertha to ensure that she delivers into his suggestion of a woman as disputed to who she really is. Moreover, Rochester refers to Antoinette as Bertha only because he wants to separate her from her mother.In conclusion, Wide Sargasso Sea proves one’s innocence by revealing their influential affections, right instincts, personal sincerity and intellect.
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