Wide Sargasso Sea is unique from Jane Eyre and Mansfield Park in that the issue of race plays a huge part in how the characters themselves relate to themselves and their place within their society. Its unique nature comes from the way the story is written from the point of view of the characters themselves rather than the author. The writing style within the novel shows how racial stereotypes and prejudices influenced portraying people of color within 19th century writings and attitudes.
Of Wide Sargasso Sea it has been said that the portrayal of the persons of color within the novel are flat and one dimensional. This assessment would be accurate in its claim unless we look at how their characters are seen through the eyes of the White and Creole character Bertha Cosway (Mason) and Mr. Rochester. We see this racial veneer (though not so thin or decorative in any sense) first early in Antoinette’s childhood with a little girl named Tia. Ironically, the two became friends after Tia began to follow her and sing “Go away white cockroach, go away, go away” (Wide Sargasso Sea, Part 1 Pg 13).
Tia is Antoinette’s only friend and she strongly identifies with her because the two are considered inferior to the European colonial class. This bonding ...
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...e read the Bible every day and I pick up knowledge without effort. He is surprise how quick I am. Still I remain an ignorant man and I do not make up this story. I cannot. It is true.” (Wide Sargasso Sea Part 2 Pg. 58). So to gain Rochester’s confidence he pins a racial stereotype on himself because he possibly cannot be so smart as to make up a story.
In conclusion, the novel of Wide Sargasso Sea paints a unique vision of the inherent racism within 19th century British culture. While the criticism that the portrayal character who are people of color is often one-sided and flat; they are painted through the eyes of the White and Creole characters that hold power and influence. This method of writing sets it apart vastly from that of Jane Eyre and Mansfield Park.
Rhys, Jean . Wide Sargasso Sea. W.W Norton & Company, Inc, print.
Pratt, M. L. n. page.
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