You are on page 1of 2

TFL Seminar

Criado, Eliana
2015

Review of the Literature

Topic: Construction of Identiy of Bertha/Antoinette Mason as an Other in


Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre
Possible title: Creole identity as a racial other: Bertha Mason in Wide
Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre

Introduction
My topic of research is concerned with the relationship between History and
Literature. For this purpose, I decided to study the development of the Creole
identity of a literary character (Bertha/Antoinette Mason) in two related novels: the
nineteenth-century novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and its Modern re-writing
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
For this purpose, some of the papers that I have selected provide an insight of the
historical context in which the texts are set and which contribute to the
development of the identity of the Bertha Mason and others provide a deep analysis
of this character.
Review of Literature:
Papers dealing with the historical context:
- Navigating the Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, and
British Empire by Ciolkowski, L.
- Edward Rochester and the English Ideological Empire by Bales, K.
As I previously discussed, these research articles analyse the context in which the
novels are set and written, giving especially attention to imperialism, imperialistic
discourse and the values and morals of Victorianism. In the first research paper,
Ciolkowski makes the connection between imperialism and genre. The author states
the context in which Wide Sargasso Sea is set (a decaying plantation economy)
affects how slave-trade families are seen. In relation to genre, the author makes
clear that Creole women were considered unchaste and needed to be controlled. In
the second paper, Bales establishes that Edward and Antoinette marriage is
condemned because of Rochesters imperialistic values and the belief of English
superiority. For these reasons, Rochester considers his wife an alien and he takes
her to England. In the last paper,
Papers analysing the Novels:
The Importance of Being English: Anxiety of Englishness in Charlotte Brontes
Jane Eyre and Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea by Whittemore
Women making Progress? A Study of Wide Sargasso Sea as a response to
Jane Eyre by
Shutting up the Subaltern: Silences, Stereotypes and Double-Entendre in
Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea by Mardorossian, C
These research papers deal in depth with the plot and characters of the
novel. In the first thesis, Whittemore acknowledges the importance for
people in the colonies to be considered English and makes a comparative
study between Jane and Bertha stating five different categories to consider

TFL Seminar
Criado, Eliana
2015
(appearance, health, liberty, violence and sexuality).In the second paper,
Gangl makes an argument about how Jane is able individualize and shows an
awareness of herself while Bertha is not. In the last paper, Mardorossian
considers Antoinette as other and acknowledges her desire to be recognized
as part of the English society. Secondly, the author makes clear that black
people in the novel resist the European stereotypes without celebrating
Black culture and he refers to the patriarchal system of society.
References
Bales, K (2003). Edward Rochester and the English Ideological Empire. ESSAI. Vol. 1,
Article 7. Retrieved from: http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?
article=1196&context=essai
Ciolkowski, L (1997). Navigating the Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English
Fiction, and British Empire. Twentieth Century Literature. Vol 43, Article 3.
Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/441916
Gangl, Kaitlin (2006) Women making Progress? A Study of Wide Sargasso Sea as a
response
to
Jane
Eyre.
Honor
Theses.
Retrieved
from
http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?
article=1283&context=honorstheses
Mardorossian, Carine (1999). Shutting up the Subaltern: Silences, Stereotypes and
Double-Entendre in Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea. Callaloo. Vol 22, Article
n 4. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3299872
Whittemore, S (2008). The Importance of Being English: Anxiety of Englishness in
Charlotte Brontes Jane Eyre and Jean Rhyss Wide Sargasso Sea. Retrieved
from
http://aladinrc.wrlc.org/bitstream/handle/1961/4381/whittemore_importance_
being_english.pdf?sequence=1