Analysis Of Wide Sargasso Sea By Jean Rhys Essay

Analysis Of Wide Sargasso Sea By Jean Rhys Essay

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In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys deals with identity through two major characters: Antoinette and her husband, Rochester. The novel deals with both the English and Caribbean Identities and explores the effect of conflicting identities within these various characters. Through this exploration, Rhys explores the idea that identity is both something that is inherited and acquired. Rhys also highlights an important issue to the reader, which is that you shouldn’t have your identity forced upon you but be true to your own roots.
The novel is set in 1830 In Jamaica, with Antoinette a creole women – a person of mixed European and black descent living on the impoverished Coulibri Estate in Jamaica. Which has recently become part of the Great British Empire. It has been six years since the abolishment of slavery which has caused the social situation on the island to become chaotic. Antoinette’s identity crisis is a result of her being continually denied acceptance into any particular culture as a child, and her own refusal to accept certain parts of her own identity. Antoinette is an outcast in her family and in society, a “white cockroach”. Antoinette is a child of mixed race, she is part of the European white culture which she has inherited from her parents and the Caribbean culture in which she was born into. Lee Erwin makes the comment that “Having been subjected both to her mother’s attempts to make her “white” and to the metropolitan view that the effort is a failure, Antoinette will try to be black, not an anomalous “white nigger”. But the violence with which her wish is met closes off that position as well.” Suggesting that ultimately by not being true to her own roots and having other identities forced upon her, leads to the act...


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...meone control her destiny and making up her own mind about her identity.
Therefore, to summarise Rhys shows us that it is evident that identity is something that is both inherited and acquired. Shown by the character of Antoinette who adopts a Caribbean identity and feels ostracized by her English peers and the sense of English identity. On the other hand, Rochester has a strong sense of English identity and attempts to erase all traces of Caribbean identity in Antoinette, and in the process even partakes in Caribbean culture himself. Therefore Antoinette 's fabrication of identities and Rochester 's later manipulation leads Antoinette to have no identity causing her to slip into madness. Rhys exploration of the key theme of identity through the character of Antoinette shows the reader the dangers of not being true to your own roots but having them forced upon you.

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