Caribbean Identity In Wide Sargasso Sea English Literature Essay

September 10, 2017 English Literature

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys trades with individuality through two major characters: Antoinette and her hubby, Rochester. The fresh compares English and Caribbean individualities and explores the consequence of conflicting individualities within these assorted characters. Through this geographic expedition, Rhys explores the thought that individuality is both something that is inherited and acquired.

It is of import to observe the significance of the rubric of the novel. The Sargasso Sea embodies the struggle Antoinette feels about her opponent Caribbean and English individualities. The Sargasso Sea is a unagitated stretch of sea that is surrounded by some of the strongest and deadliest currents in the universe. The Sargasso Sea is so unagitated and its surrounding currents so strong that any seaweed or dust deposited into the Sargasso Sea is really improbable to get away ( Encyclopedia Britannica ) . This embodies the experience of Antoinette, she is caught between two civilizations and becomes the depositary of differing cultural features, such as when Rochester starts modeling her into his construct of an English adult female, and when Antoinette appropriates features of the black Caribbean civilization into her ain individuality.

Antoinette ‘s individuality crisis is a consequence of her being continually denied credence into any peculiar civilization, and her ain refusal to accept certain parts of her individuality. Antoinette is a portion of the European white civilization she ‘s familial from her household and the Caribbean civilization she was born into. Antoinette both frights and admires the Caribbean civilization and the sense of individuality that her black retainers have. Antoinette admits to desiring to “ be like ” Tia and looks up to Christophine as a sort of maternal figure ( 27 ) . Antoinette appropriates a Caribbean individuality into her ain individuality, but the black retainers and other Caribbeans she brushs do non accept her, instead they see her as a menace. Antoinette describes to Rochester how a miss would sing “ a vocal about a white cockroach. That ‘s me. That ‘s what they call all of us who were here before their ain people in Africa sold them to break one’s back bargainers. And I ‘ve heard English adult females call us white niggas. So between you I frequently wonder who I am and where is my state and where do I belong and why was I of all time born at all, ” ( 61 ) . Antoinette is rejected by other white Europeans because of her household ‘s fiscal position and the fact that they are Creole.

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As a Creole, Antoinette is forced to populate two individualities that she feels she does n’t belong to in a civilization that will non accept her. This impedes Antoinette ‘s ability to spot her true individuality. Because of her rejection from both civilizations, when her manor burns down Antoinette resolves to animate her individuality ; this is her motive for get marrieding Rochester: in order to conceal from her Caribbean individuality and get an English individuality. This portion of the fresh establishes that Antoinette has two distinguishable individualities: the individuality she has inherited ( an English/Creole individuality ) and the individuality she has tried to allow for herself ( a Caribbean individuality ) .

Antoinette farther explores her Caribbean individuality through her friendship/rivalry with Tia. Antoinette claims she wants to be like Tia and sees a sort of strength and assurance in Tia that Antoinette deficiencies. When Tia steals Antoinette ‘s money and reasonably frock, Antoinette is forced to have on Tia ‘s dirty, old frock. Antoinette and Tia ‘s functions reverse ; this symbolizes the ability to get individualities, in this instance Antoinette trying to take on a Caribbean individuality and reject her English individuality. When Tia throws a stone at Antoinette, it represents the Caribbeans rejecting Antoinette from Caribbean civilization and Antoinette losing the Caribbean individuality she grew up with. Rhys described how tightly bound Tia was with Antoinette ‘s individuality, Antoinette claiming “ we had eaten the same nutrient, slept side by side, bathed in the same river. As I ran I thought, I will populate with Tia and I will be like her, ” ( 27 ) and Antoinette was looking at Tia as through a “ looking glass, ” ( 27 ) implying that Tia represented the Caribbean half of Antoinette ‘s individuality. This event signifies Antoinette ‘s effort to abandon a black/Caribbean individuality and effort to make a more white/Creole individuality as she moves to Spanish Town.

Rochester, or Antoinette ‘s hubby, narrates a big part of the novel, from the point he and Antoinette acquire married. Rochester himself experiences a little individuality crisis while in the West Indies and devastatingly manipulates Antoinette ‘s individuality. Rochester ‘s move from England to the West Indies is a journey off his topographic point of power into a land that is foreign and banishing because of his English individuality. It is at this point that Rochester begins to contemn Antoinette ‘s Caribbean associations and features. Rochester disapproves of Antoinette ‘s Caribbean individuality and her ability to place with the black Caribbean retainers. He tries to conceive of her as any generic English miss, and returns to writhe and pull strings her individuality.

Rochester renames Antoinette to Bertha in order to estrange her from her Creole-ness and perchance to dissociate her with the name of her female parent, who besides went huffy. In renaming Antoinette, Rochester confuses her sense of individuality even further. Earlier in the fresh Antoinette remembered snoging a mirror, where her physical ego and reflected ego represented her two conflicting individualities, and when she kissed her contemplation they were fused. As Rochester changes her name and subsequently locks Antoinette in the Attic without a mirror, she does non cognize her ain name or her physical individuality, as Antoinette explains, “ long ago when I was a kid and really lonely I tried to snog her. But the glass was between us-hard, cold and misted over with my breath. Now they have taken everything off. What am I making in this topographic point and who am I? ” ( 107 ) ; even the slightest spot of individuality Antoinette had before this was sharply attacked and erased by Rochester, go forthing Antoinette a “ shade ” to herself and the universe ( 108 ) .

Rochester besides jeeringly calls Antoinette “ Marionette, ” knocking her for her deficiency of individuality. Rochester wholly denies the Caribbean individuality in his married woman, and alternatively he attempts to asseverate his English individuality onto her and everyone else he meets in the Caribbean. Rochester begins to believe Antoinette has inherited the lunacy of her household and even inquiries whether she is entirely white.

Even though Rochester despises the Caribbean and its civilization, he unwittingly becomes a portion of and patterns obeah. When Antoinette begs Christophine to do a love potion for Rochester, Rochester discovers this and efficaciously turns the obi enchantment against Antoinette. This suggests that even though Rochester works so difficult to divide himself from the Caribbean, his engagement with obi necessarily leaves a grade of Caribbean individuality on him. This besides supports the thought that individuality is something that can be acquired, even unwittingly. However, Christophine warns that if white people were to utilize obeah it would non work the same manner as if a black Caribbean has used obeah. So even though Rochester has acquired some sort of Caribbean individuality, it is merely a perversion of a true Caribbean individuality.

Through these illustrations it is apparent that individuality is both something inherited and acquired. Antoinette adopts a Caribbean individuality and feels ostracized by her English equals and sense of English individuality. Rochester has a strong sense of English individuality and efforts to wipe out all hints of Caribbean individuality in Antoinette, and in the procedure even partakes in Caribbean civilization himself. Antoinette ‘s fiction of individualities and Rochester ‘s ulterior use leads Antoinette to hold no individuality and she finally slips into lunacy.

Word Count: 1,300


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