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Student: Nastasia Raluca Georgeta Course instructor: Dr.

Aloisia Sorop,Senior lecturer Specialization: English-German Year:3rd year

WIDE SARGASSO SEA -POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURE-

Rhys's novel forces readers to reexamine Bronte's novel and consider the significance of race in the nineteenth-century English novel. is a body of literary writings that reacts to the discourse of colonization. unsuccessfully. a country she had always despised. . published between the two world wars. sometimes called "New English literature(s)"). Postcolonial literature often involves writings that deal with issues of de-colonization or the political and cultural independence of people formerly subjugated to colonial rule. It is also a literary critique to texts that carry racist or colonial undertones. Postcolonial literature. have drawn the attention of critics. insane. the novel describes how Antoinette became mad. The unique novel seeks to recreate the true story of Bertha Mason. saying that it relies too closely on Jane Eyre and cannot stand alone. were out of print. also attempts to critique the contemporary postcolonial discourse that has been shaped over recent times. to belong. Set mainly in Jamaica and Dominica. especially the status of women and the race relations between newly freed slaves and their former owners. In telling Bertha's story (known in Wide Sargasso Sea as Antoinette Cosway). The themes explored in the novel. the Jamaican mad wife of Edward Rochester in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Smith Award and Heinemann Award. H. Rhys. finally in its most recent form. lived an isolated life in a remote village in England. and between the old slaveholding West Indian families and the new English settlers in the post-emancipation Caribbean. Her previous novels and short stories. won the prestigious W. Bertha/Antoinette is a monster. from the obscurity into which she had fallen. Wide Sargasso Sea caught the immediate attention of critics. It attempts to re-read this very emergence of postcolonialism and its literary expression itself. and promiscuous.Postcolonial literature (or "Post-colonial literature". the country of Rhys's birth. Rhys creates instead a sympathetic and vulnerable young woman who seeks. Certainly. who had succumbed to an alcohol addiction. Jean Rhys. and earned Rhys a place in the literary canon. Rhys explores the complex relations between white and black West Indians. Other critics debate the merits of the novel. When Wide Sargasso Sea was published in 1966 it helped to rescue its author. described as violent. In Bronte's novel.

there will be an assessment of the extent to which both theories are important in comprehending the novel's aims and meanings. But of course it was completed in 1966. This breakdown of empire is observable in several themes throughout the novel. in looking at post colonialism. "Post colonial" initially seems an anomalous phrase to use about a novel that is set well within the time frame of the British Empire. race in the more physical sense. By .This essay will discuss the way in which Wide Sargasso Sea interacts with the ideas of postcolonial and feminist thinking. there will also be some reference to existing criticism. and how this interacts with the novel's sexual politics. when stripped of money and power. which spawned it. i. Again. Rhys' sympathy with the Jamaican first wife of Mr Rochester is an active attempt to deconstruct the often Anglo-centric nature of the Nineteenth century novel tradition of which Bronte was a part." could be read as a savage indictment of the social conditions in the colonies. as well as the way in which imperialism is represented. By giving a voice to this previously marginalized character. Tia's assertion that "Old time white people nothing but white nigger now. Rhys is effectively protesting. colour prejudice. in particular the contrast in the treatment of the heroine in this book with that of Jane Eyre. not least in the way it deals with race. is an important theme. First. and black nigger better than white nigger. long after the tide of European imperialism had begun to recede. The suggestion here is that white people. the 1830s to be precise. against the oppressive natures of colonialism.e. there will be a discussion of how race is used within the novel. I shall look at the hybrid nature of the text in relation to existing criticism on post colonialism and the novel. Finally. the essay will assess the way in which feminism works within the novel. and in that sense the novel is postcolonial in that it rebels against the perceived superiority of the English. As well as this. As well as this. at least in part. are the social inferiors of the indigenous population. Secondly.

Interestingly. Even the practice of rewriting an established . 1997) So. Firstly. Indeed. and Bakhtin's theory suggests that this is directly linked to its postcolonial origins. argues that. "Every novel. taken as the totality of all languages and consciousnesses of languages embodied in it." As well as this. there is of course the variation in narrative voices. Compare Antoinette's "I was tired. such deconstruction took place during the colonial period itself. the variety of language does not merely add colour to the narrative. one of the more conspicuous features of Wide Sargasso Sea is its linguistic and narrative variety. Rhys is arguably suggesting that the unpleasant social and racial hierarchy of the colonies is instilled in the inhabitants from early on in their lives. is a hybrid. it is part of the novel's artistic structure.putting this strangely inverted form of racism. and the resulting hybridisation in Wide Sargasso Sea functions on two main levels."though she could speak good English«and French as well as patois. there is the variety of patois and dialects employed. Bakhtin. in discussing the novel as an art form. Of course. "Bakhtin believed that novelistic discourse«continued to thrive in the marginal reaches of societies because it is at those margins that different cultures interact and breed new forms." (Bakhtin. in the mouth of a very young character. she took good care to speak as they [the Jamaicans] did. it is in this area of interaction between different social and cultural groups that the theoretical element of the novel's postcolonial aspect is strongest. but its voicing in these terms does point to a post colonial standpoint. inverted because it implies a certain level of self abasement of the part of Tia." to Rochester's more measured description of the wedding . and also that it demeans both the conquerors and the conquered. Antoinette's voice tends to be more emotionally charged and perhaps more contemporary than Mr Rochester's. as illustrated by Antoinette's description of Christophine . one critic argues. and the water I had swallowed made me feel sick. 1981) The variation of language." But how does this relate to post colonial theory? In discussing Bakhtin."(Guneratne."I played the part I was expected to play«I must have given a faultless performance.

Vol. 22. of course. 2004) Bibliography: 1. However. and so any further feminist deconstruction might seem redundant. 1967 3. review. but also as artistic by-product of it." Novel. progressing toward a better lot in life. No. originally almost more of a plot device than a fully rounded individual. In addition to its postcolonial leanings.novel from the cannon has been deemed "a common colonial practice" .Walter. the novel is. it is important to note the difference in the way in which the heroine is dealt with from a feminist perspective. on the other hand. however. a female who succeeds in male-dominated Nineteenth century England. www. "Jane can assert notions of female individuality and self respect because she operates in a society based on Christian virtues«Rhys. Antoinette Cosway. Jane Eyre is effectively a female bildungsroman. 2 2. June 18. in New York Times Book Review. Allen. one could argue that Bronte's heroine is already feminist. represents a more modernist view of the heroine. defines the world as a rotting paradise.com . "'Like in a Looking Glass': History and Narrative in Wide Sargasso Sea. and this act of artistic deconstruction can be read as a deconstruction of the values behind nineteenth century imperialism. it is also giving audience to a previously almost ignored female character.wikipedia." (Burns. Erwin. Its attempt to empower a marginalized voice is not merely a rejection of certain cultural and racial preconceptions. In this respect we can read Wide Sargasso Sea not just as a protest against colonialism. literally a place where the values of Jane's world fail to exist. Given the nature of the original text. a feminist text. Lee.