Comparing Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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Comparing Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In the novels Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, the theme of loss can be viewed as an umbrella that encompasses the absence of independence, society or community, love, and order in the lives of the two protagonists. They deal with their hardships in diverse ways. However, they both find ways to triumph over their losses and regain their independence.

The women in both novels endure a loss of personal freedom, both mental, and physical. Jane Eyre, in her blind infatuation with Mr. Rochester, allows her emotions to enslave her. She realizes her obsession when she states, "My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and
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In her search for approval, Antoinette utilizes a voodoo potion to try and force Rochester to love her, which makes him despise her more than ever. He accuses Christophine of acting for Antoinette when he insists “You tried to poison me” (Rhys 153). Both Jane and Antoinette are prisoners of their intense feelings for the man they adore, leaving them open to pain and betrayal.

Jane’s foster family, the Reeds, restrict her rights, refusing to treat her as an equal to the other members of the family. Jane, at a mere eight years old, is chastised by Mrs. Abbott, the nanny, who asserts, “you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep” (Bronte 11). When Rochester imprisons Antoinette in England, he deprives her of any sense of humanity. The people in their lives who yielded power over them unjustly repressed both women.

Jane and Antoinette are both ostracized by their respective communities as a direct result of their social positions. Jane is an orphan with no money and no close relatives. Although she is clearly a bright and unique girl, she is treated as an outcast due to her orphan status. She refuses to accept their low opinion of her however, and maintains “The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now”, illustrating her desire to persevere through