Wide Sargasso Sea

Contrasting Representations of Female Characters in Wide Sargasso Sea 11th Grade

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys uses her female characters predominately in a feminist style. The narrative itself is a rewriting of the literary history of Jane Eyre with a focus on the marginalised Bertha Mason both as a woman, a creole and in her financial status. While some female characters advocate modifying the inherited language of male oppressors, like Christophine does through her defiance against Rochester, others are subjugated by the arrival of male colonisers. These topics are explored through a range of events, symbols and metaphors.

Annette can be seen as a presentation of a female who is both assertive towards and oppressed by her male superiors. Olaussen makes the argument that in Annette’s adoption of feminine qualities ‘such as beauty, fragility, dependency and passivity make it impossible for her to change actively their situation.’ This sense of helplessness, in support of Olaussen’s status, is established at the start of the novel through Annette’s repetition of the verb ‘marooned’ after her horse is poisoned. The verb, used in its past tense form, gives a sense of total isolation and marginalisation from society but also a helplessness in Annette’s status with an inability to change their economic or social...

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