Postcolonial Discourse in Wide Sargasso Sea Essay

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Postcolonial Discourse in Wide Sargasso Sea

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys confronts the possibility of another side to Jane Eyre. The story of Bertha, the first Mrs Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea is not only a brilliant deconstruction of Brontë's legacy, but is also a damning history of colonialism in the Caribbean.

The story is set just after the emancipation of the slaves, in that uneasy time when racial relations in the Caribbean were at their most strained. Antoinette (Rhys renames her and has Rochester impose the name of Bertha on her when their relationship dissolves) is descended from the plantation owners, and her father has had many children by negro women. She can be accepted neither by the negro community nor by the
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His betrayal of her is set up before he recieves the information from Daniel Cosway.

Rhys negotiates with Bronte's text. As an already canonical text, the merging of Antoinette's fate into that of Bertha's is inevitable, but Rhys allows us to interpret the fate of Antoinette differently by having the ending open. Antoinette dreams of the fire and leap to her death, but the novel ends with her resolution to act rather than a description of her death or an exact repetition of Bronte's words. Thus the possibility of a different fate for Rhys's character is left intact. The more recent text can be said to have an influence on the earlier text and to extend its possibilities.

The character of Christophine is important as a site of alternative power. Christophine forces Rochester to recognise her as the holder of judicial authority and she reduces him to mimicry of her words as he admits that her words echoed in his head. This is a reversal of the normal coloniser/colonised role where, according to Bhabha and Fanon, the colonised is a mere parrot who must come to terms with the master discourse of the metropolitan centre. The source of Christophine's power is obeah (see Voodoo) and she is central to the narrative action, as Antoinette calls to her at the end of the novel to release her form the zombie-like state to which Rochester has reduced her.

The desire to rewrite the master narratives of Western

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