Compare and Constrast 'Wide Sargasso Sea' and 'the Awakening'

1796 Words Apr 24th, 2011 8 Pages
Compare and contrast how ‘Patriarchy’ shows oppression in ‘The Awakening’ and ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’.
‘Patriarchy’ is a social organisation in which the father or eldest male is head of a household or tribe, having supreme authority over his women and children. It is a system of government, where men hold the power, and women are largely excluded from it. A patriarchal civilisation promotes the dominance of men in social or cultural societies.
Jean Rhys (August 24th – 1890 May 14th 1979) was a Dominican modernist writer; Rhys is widely recognised for her postcolonial novel ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, which is considered to be a post-modern feminist text. Another writer that wrote about the governance of patriarchy over matriarchy, in her
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Pontellier refuses to listen to her husband who demands her ‘I can't permit you to stay out there all night. You must come in the house instantly.’ Edna refuses quote ‘Leonce, go to bed,’ warning him against speaking to her like that as he will be left unanswered. Command is rejected by both protagonists as they question their husband’s authority through their actions and words.
In addition, imagery and religion is a significant theme in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ and ‘The Awakening’ as it holds visual enigmas that the reader has to decode. ‘I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know.’ Rochester’s critique of the natural landscape originates from his inability to read or identify with it. While his servants and his wife find an abundance of meaning in their surroundings, Rochester feels overwhelmed by it. His need to be dominant is associated with the scenery that he detests because his lack of understanding it. He longs for the orderly landscape of his homeland which portrays clear designations of authority. The imagery in ‘The Awakening’ final passages underlines the ambiguity of its ending. We read that ‘a bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.’ This description matches Mademoiselle Reisz’s earlier warning: ‘The bird that would soar above the