Fire Causes Mental Illness in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

1273 Words 6 Pages
Almost anyone that has had the misfortune of enduring an early childhood traumatic experience will readily admit that it has had lasting effects on his life. A traumatic occurrence at an early time in one's life will not only change the person's way of thinking, but it will also alter the relationships that this person has with certain people, places, or things. Normally comfortable settings will suddenly become extremely uncomfortable. People that the child was once at great ease with unexpectedly are transformed into completely different people in the child's eyes. For an adult, traumatic experiences are easier to handle, at least in my opinion. But for a child, going through a tragic event could completely destroy the type of …show more content…
With 71 people being affected by fires at home everyday, it is easy to see that Antoinette Mason's fate was not that unlikely.

A more specific method of explaining Antoinette Mason's condition is to discuss the mental state known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Naomi Breslau states that one of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is "a numbing of affect and avoidance of thoughts, acts, and situations that represent the trauma" (Breslau 924). In Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette clearly shows this type of symptom. In her last dream described by Rhys, Antoinette sees "the pool at Coulibri" (Rhys 112). This obviously shows that Antoinette can only deal with her past at Coulibri in her dreams, and not in reality. When Antoinette is walking down the hallway at Thornfied, she says "Now at last I know why I was brought here and what I have to do" (Rhys 112). At this particular point in the novel, it is clearly evident that Antoinette is simply recreating the tragic event that she was forced to endure during her childhood at Coulibri. The fact that she has a mental illness basically allows her to start the fire without having an actual flashback to the fire she suffered during her youth.

It is certain that the fire at Coulibri was the chief cause of Antoinette's madness. However, more can be revealed about her with a closer examination of the burning of Coulibri and the fire she set at Thornfield Hall. At Coulibri, "the blaze, started by family
Open Document