Charlotte Brontes Jane Eyre An


How and why are selected canonical texts re-written by female authors? Answer with close reference to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.
The Sargasso Sea is a relatively still sea, lying within the south-west zone of the North Atlantic Ocean, at the centre of a swirl of warm ocean currents. Metaphorically, for Jean Rhys, it represented
an area of calm, within the wide division between England and the West Indies. Within such an area, a sense of stability, permanence and identity may be attained, despite the powerful, whirling currents
which surround it. But outside of this ‘sea’, one may be destabilised, drawn away by these outside ...

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came from a mad family; idiots and maniacs through three generations. Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman and a drunkard!’ She is further described as having a ‘discoloured face’, ‘a savage face’ with ‘fearful blackened
inflation’ of the features, ‘the lips were swelled and dark’; described as a demon, witch, vampire, beast and hyena1. But nowhere in the novel does Bronte allow ‘the madwoman in the attic’ to have a
voice, to explain what may have caused her madness. Rhys says: ‘The mad wife in Jane Eyre always interested me. I was convinced that Charlotte Bronte must have had something against the West
Indies and I was angry about it. Otherwise, why did she take a West Indian for that horrible lunatic, for that really dreadful creature?’2 So in Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys rewrites Bronte’s canonical text according to her own, personal experiences, as both a white West Indian and a woman.

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Creole planter, rather than that of the emancipated slave.

The historical-fictional content of Wide Sargasso Sea is, by design, a prequel, or (p)review of Jane Eyre. Rhys called an early draft of the text Le Revenant: something that comes back, haunts, revisits. I
think the ‘haunting’ and ‘revisiting’ between Rhys and Jane Eyre is reciprocal. Here, she herself revisits her youth, through Antoinette, to experience Dominica in a way which previews the characters and content of Jane Eyre in a temporal sense; but in doing so, creates indelible perspectives which haunt subsequent re-readings of the book. She also establishes a literary relationship between Jane ...

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Added: 2/22/2007 02:31:31 PM
Category: English
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