Emerging from the weed infested, gloomy body of water hat presents a fasade for so many conundrums of the deep rises a novel by Jean Rhys that masks secrets and mysteries in order to take a deeper look at life itself.
The Sargasso Sea has and will remain forever an enigma of this globe, for the forces that have created it, those forces stronger then life itself, have contrived a masterpiece of visible nonconformity, which may only be the tip of the iceberg for invisible disharmony in its elements. Likewise, "Wide Sargasso Sea," by Jean Rhys creates a convoluted and bewildering plot which procures more scepticism then certainty and more mystery then discovery.
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However, it is for this nonconformity that we are able to consider the laws of probability, the laws of life and so unlike the devoid of lifelessness in the depths of the "Desert Sea", Jean Rhys presents an exploration of the roots of life itself and all that administers it, from love and hate to identity and anonymity. From sanity and madness, to trust and betrayal and from denial and obligation, to preconceptions and reality. Wide Sargasso Sea published by Penguin Books and the post colonial prequel to the canonical "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte is confusing and unfulfilling however a commendable attempt at highlighting the previous silences of Antoinette Cosway and providing a voice that was, prior to Wide Sargasso Sea, unheard.
Set in the lush Caribbean this disagreeable novel is a narration by Antoinette Mason and presents a truth and reality of her life from a completely different perspective to what is told in Jane Eyre, where her primary focus is her insane role as Rochester’s first wife. Antoinette, the daughter of a loathed slave-trading father and mother of French origin, exists in the mid-19th century, lives in the West Indies and is not completely European yet in spite of that not entirely accepted as Jamaican either. The plot centres around the strive for self discovery and assurance, where Antoinette poses a rhetorical question that in itself is a reality of her life, "I often wonder who I am and where is my country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all." Following the death of her father and an arranged marriage to Edward Rochester, Antoinette struggles to find a middle existence between her strive for self identity and her newly exposed roles as a family woman. The novel is more complex than any basic love story however emphasises that pursuit for devotion and reassurance, two concepts evident in any love story. This, however, does not have the fairy tale ending upon which Jane Eyre relies, moreover Antoinette’s envy for affection is never received and her obsession hovers on lunacy. After Antoinette’s history of severe poverty and her father’s immoral tendencies is revealed her marriage is jeopardized and she is forced to use "obeah" a dark witchcraft to acquire Rochester’s love.
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