Madness and Sexuality in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea

Literature / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
An analysis of the inter-dependence of madness and sexuality in Jean Rhys’ `Wide Sargasso Sea`.

This paper examines the character of Antoinette Cosway in Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea” to illustrate how madness and sexuality are interrelated within the novel. The paper explores the importance of the place of the woman as prone to madness and also addresses how feminism affects our interpretations of an individuals actions and desires. The paper shows how the intricate web of thematic complexity in “Wide Sargasso Sea” conceals an uncomplicated, unloved and neglected young woman.
Antoinette narrates the first section of the text with vivid yet childlike intensity. We see the peopled and coloured environment in which she grows up through her : Long, sad, dark alien eyes. The notion of ‘madness’ as a condition inherited from her Mother is always a disturbing undercurrent, but we witness her discovery of life that progresses with innocent charm. For example : The tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild. The wildness of the tree is explicitly analogous to her Mother’s temperament – Antoinette views it with delight. It is somewhat unfortunate that Antoinette exists within her Mother’s shadow; that her acquaintances are imbued with mistrust regarding her sanity.


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