Contrasting Gender Differences in in Medea versus Wide Sargasso Sea

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Gender Differences in in Medea versus Wide Sargasso Sea

Stereotypical attributes traditionally associated with women, such as having a propensity to madness, or being irrational, frivolous, dependent, decorative, subordinate, scheming, manipulative, weak, jealous, gossiping, vulnerable and deceitful were common in the times relevant to both works, i.e. Ancient Greece and in the 19th and early 20th Century.

Masculine attributes in Euripides' time were more along the lines of being valiant, heroic, noble, dominant (over women,) politically powerful, assertive, and competitive. The 19th Century white British male was also expected to be domestically and politically dominant, stiff upper lipped, virile, authoritative, somewhat
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Born a second son, he is unable to inherit his father's estate. He is "cautious and inhibited," (An Introduction to the Humanities, Block 5, p200) socially impotent, living alienated from his homeland (Britain,) though he does portray the `stiff upper lip attitude of British males peers.

Frequently not saying what he really thinks ("Wide Sargasso Sea," pp56-7), Rochester wages his personal war, not against a man, but against his wife, Antoinette.

Rhys weaves the themes of women's sexuality, madness and slavery throughout her story of Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette yields to insanity apparently inflicted by Rochester's controlling ways as he sets out to deconstruct her personality. Her madness is a symbolic death, an escape from her situation of female dependence and male dominance. Rochester changes Antoinette's name to Bertha, ("Wide Sargasso Sea," Part 2 p 87) stripping her of her identity. He later fragments this even further for her taunting her; "Marionette, Antoinette, Marionetta, Antoinetta." ("Wide Sargasso Sea," part 2, p99) inferring she is a malleable puppet, and he is the puppet master, the controller.

Rochester's hatred of his wife manifests itself yet further when he covers her with a sheet in another of the story's symbolic deaths.

Even her orgasms, he refers to as dying; "I watched her die many times." ("Wide Sargasso Sea," p57)

His cold, controlling attitude parallels Britain's treatment of her colonies, and

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