Wide Sargasso Sea

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username1987655
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#1
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#1
Hey,

Does anyone have any example essays or notes they would't mind sharing on this cracking novel?

Thank you
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euphrosynay
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#2
Report 3 years ago
#2
i don't have any study notes for this, but i can make some!
let's see...

main themes:
identity
masculinity/femininity
marriage
love
nature
home
religion

i'm going to make some comparisons with jane eyre, possibly throughout
by no means do you need to remember everything i write about it, but it might be useful

direct parallels
- antoinette's character is based on that of bertha mason (wife locked up in the attic)
- becomes clearer nearer to the end, when her husband refers to her as bertha against her will, when she stabs richard, and when she is possibly about to set rochester's bed on fire(?)
- the young englishman is, of course, edward rochester

effects
- the book provides a backstory for bertha
- she is given a character, voice, home and even a separate name
- as well as a new storyline, these added characteristics force the reader to see bertha/antoinette as human, and are forced to feel the discomfort that she does when she is shunned and displaced


more on displacement
- the title! sargasso sea is wide, and antoinette is miles away from home
- more specifically, though, it's said that the sargasso sea (the only sea without any land boundary) robs people from sailing boats - several ships have been found wandering without anyone on it
- possible interpretation: antoinette's disappearance from her own island is akin to disappearing from the world altogether, as she has lost her identity and being


marriage:
- the marriage, here, is a union between a man of high status and a woman known for her beauty and sensuality
- gender roles and status, how'd you guess?
- rochester is conflicted - he can't return to england as a rejected suitor, but he doesn't love antoinette
- antoinette is warned by christophine not to marry him, but seems to want to love him and submit to his wishes
- antoinette and rochester hardly talk; when antoinette does, rochester's replies are often short, and when rochester mentions something close to him, antoinette either shows contempt ('oh england! england!') or simply fails to relate

compare to jane/rochester's relationship
- antoinette and rochester are of similar status in their respective areas (in terms of wealth) and aren't happy with each other, while rochester and jane are in high and low classes (in the same society), and are happy together
- bertha and rochester don't know each other before they marry, while rochester and jane spend time getting to know each other and fall in love
- neither bertha nor rochester give into misgivings or warnings - jane refuses to marry rochester and leaves him after finding out about bertha and imagining a godlike voice calling her to leave

symbolism:
fire
- destruction, loss, madness
- antoinette's house at coulibri burns, loses her possessions and the landscape around the house; bertha tries to burn rochester's bed, in jane eyre if not at the end of this novel


religion
- obeah: a system of healing and spiritual practices, of african origin and developed by enslaved africans in the west indies
- known to be used for both good and evil, to bring health/love/money to a client or bad luck to their enemies
- antoinette turns to christophine, both healer and witch, to try to entice her husband
- as a result, christophine becomes respected and feared



sorry these aren't too detailed :s
i'll add more if i can think of anything, and don't hesitate to ask about anything if necessary
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username1987655
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#3
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#3
(Original post by euphrosynay)
i don't have any study notes for this, but i can make some!
let's see...

main themes:
identity
masculinity/femininity
marriage
love
nature
home
religion

i'm going to make some comparisons with jane eyre, possibly throughout
by no means do you need to remember everything i write about it, but it might be useful

direct parallels
- antoinette's character is based on that of bertha mason (wife locked up in the attic)
- becomes clearer nearer to the end, when her husband refers to her as bertha against her will, when she stabs richard, and when she is possibly about to set rochester's bed on fire(?)
- the young englishman is, of course, edward rochester

effects
- the book provides a backstory for bertha
- she is given a character, voice, home and even a separate name
- as well as a new storyline, these added characteristics force the reader to see bertha/antoinette as human, and are forced to feel the discomfort that she does when she is shunned and displaced


more on displacement
- the title! sargasso sea is wide, and antoinette is miles away from home
- more specifically, though, it's said that the sargasso sea (the only sea without any land boundary) robs people from sailing boats - several ships have been found wandering without anyone on it
- possible interpretation: antoinette's disappearance from her own island is akin to disappearing from the world altogether, as she has lost her identity and being


marriage:
- the marriage, here, is a union between a man of high status and a woman known for her beauty and sensuality
- gender roles and status, how'd you guess?
- rochester is conflicted - he can't return to england as a rejected suitor, but he doesn't love antoinette
- antoinette is warned by christophine not to marry him, but seems to want to love him and submit to his wishes
- antoinette and rochester hardly talk; when antoinette does, rochester's replies are often short, and when rochester mentions something close to him, antoinette either shows contempt ('oh england! england!' or simply fails to relate

compare to jane/rochester's relationship
- antoinette and rochester are of similar status in their respective areas (in terms of wealth) and aren't happy with each other, while rochester and jane are in high and low classes (in the same society), and are happy together
- bertha and rochester don't know each other before they marry, while rochester and jane spend time getting to know each other and fall in love
- neither bertha nor rochester give into misgivings or warnings - jane refuses to marry rochester and leaves him after finding out about bertha and imagining a godlike voice calling her to leave

symbolism:
fire
- destruction, loss, madness
- antoinette's house at coulibri burns, loses her possessions and the landscape around the house; bertha tries to burn rochester's bed, in jane eyre if not at the end of this novel


religion
- obeah: a system of healing and spiritual practices, of african origin and developed by enslaved africans in the west indies
- known to be used for both good and evil, to bring health/love/money to a client or bad luck to their enemies
- antoinette turns to christophine, both healer and witch, to try to entice her husband
- as a result, christophine becomes respected and feared



sorry these aren't too detailed :s
i'll add more if i can think of anything, and don't hesitate to ask about anything if necessary
Hey,

Thank you so so so much for these!!!!

You are so helpful!!!!
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euphrosynay
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#4
Report 3 years ago
#4
(Original post by MediaROCKS)
Hey,

Thank you so so so much for these!!!!

You are so helpful!!!!
you're very welcome!!
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euphrosynay
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#5
Report 3 years ago
#5
so i decided to post my response to the cardboard question on the actual thread, since it's a bit long

~

also interesting! the first thing that came to my mind (i.e. a surface-level interpretation) was a possible lack of security - a cardboard house, specifically, would have thin walls and weak foundations, and more broadly would be exposed to the elements, cold and unsafe. in fact, thornfield is made of stone, and it's said that grace poole (bertha's warden) finds it safe to be inside.

however, i found a paper that suggested an alternative interpretation. when antoinette wakes up in thornfield, she doesn't believe that she's in england, but in a cardboard house - the interpretation suggests the same disparity between 'the english soil' and "the england of brontë’s novel ‘this cardboard house’ – a book between cardboard covers” (127).'

brontë's novel is known for being a revolutionary bildungsroman with a unique setting and logic that allows jane to explore her 'individuality'. it's suggested that, for jane to become her own character, the role of women to be an 'other' to men ('other' being a type of foil, often used to portray one character as exemplar, relevant or respectable by juxtaposition with a more distant character) isn't so heavily pressed. the 'colonial other' may be the replacement, and is an other to jane.
antoinette's assertion that she is in a strange world, between cardboard covers, may stem purely from the artificial world of fiction and brontë's particular manipulation of it.

~
(back to my mediocre thoughts)

as said before, the first two parts of wide sargasso sea are there to give antoinette a life, character and background. in the real world, her home of jamaica, she is able to interact with the world and people around her that make her herself, and in turn a part of that world. in the workings of brontë's novel, bertha is not a character of her own, but simply a set of strange, and possibly even hideous, qualities and actions.
in jane eyre, her role is to be strange; a perspective in a world strange to her is shown only in wide sargasso sea. it may be that, without the identity of a character, antoinette cannot interact with the world as she did before. she may only be able to see its fragility and blankness, just as the others only see a towering figure with fearsome features.

in summary, the cardboard house could represent antoinette's insecurity in an unfamiliar place and a position in another woman's story that distorts her identity and relationship with the world. the sheer ambiguity of a cardboard house, devoid of features that could be attributed to any place (e.g. stone), encloses a woman with no place at all.
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username1987655
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#6
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#6
(Original post by euphrosynay)
so i decided to post my response to the cardboard question on the actual thread, since it's a bit long

~

also interesting! the first thing that came to my mind (i.e. a surface-level interpretation) was a possible lack of security - a cardboard house, specifically, would have thin walls and weak foundations, and more broadly would be exposed to the elements, cold and unsafe. in fact, thornfield is made of stone, and it's said that grace poole (bertha's warden) finds it safe to be inside.

however, i found a paper that suggested an alternative interpretation. when antoinette wakes up in thornfield, she doesn't believe that she's in england, but in a cardboard house - the interpretation suggests the same disparity between 'the english soil' and "the england of brontë’s novel ‘this cardboard house’ – a book between cardboard covers” (127).'

brontë's novel is known for being a revolutionary bildungsroman with a unique setting and logic that allows jane to explore her 'individuality'. it's suggested that, for jane to become her own character, the role of women to be an 'other' to men ('other' being a type of foil, often used to portray one character as exemplar, relevant or respectable by juxtaposition with a more distant character) isn't so heavily pressed. the 'colonial other' may be the replacement, and is an other to jane.
antoinette's assertion that she is in a strange world, between cardboard covers, may stem purely from the artificial world of fiction and brontë's particular manipulation of it.

~
(back to my mediocre thoughts)

as said before, the first two parts of wide sargasso sea are there to give antoinette a life, character and background. in the real world, her home of jamaica, she is able to interact with the world and people around her that make her herself, and in turn a part of that world. in the workings of brontë's novel, bertha is not a character of her own, but simply a set of strange, and possibly even hideous, qualities and actions.
in jane eyre, her role is to be strange; a perspective in a world strange to her is shown only in wide sargasso sea. it may be that, without the identity of a character, antoinette cannot interact with the world as she did before. she may only be able to see its fragility and blankness, just as the others only see a towering figure with fearsome features.

in summary, the cardboard house could represent antoinette's insecurity in an unfamiliar place and a position in another woman's story that distorts her identity and relationship with the world. the sheer ambiguity of a cardboard house, devoid of features that could be attributed to any place (e.g. stone), encloses a woman with no place at all.
Your too helpful! Thanks for this, do you mind if i use some of these ideas for my summer hw?
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euphrosynay
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#7
Report 3 years ago
#7
you're welcome, and i don't mind at all! (hope the hw goes well)
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username1987655
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#8
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#8
(Original post by euphrosynay)
you're welcome, and i don't mind at all! (hope the hw goes well)
Thanks a lot !!!!
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