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The Wide Sargasso Sea How does your view of Antoinette change from part one to part two? What are the reasons for these changes and how does Rhys' writing achieve this?

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Introduction

The Wide Sargasso Sea How does your view of Antoinette change from part one to part two? What are the reasons for these changes and how does Rhys' writing achieve this? When we meet Antoinette for the first time, she is a child of no more than 10. The absence of a definite age mirrors her flightful and relaxed personality. This is a common technique involving several factors that forms a bond between the reader and the character. Her innocence as a child is taken for granted, and therefore any aspect of her life will be both honest and frank in its description. "She was much blacker - blue-black with a thin face and straight features." Because of the use of stream of consciousness writing, her comments on and interactions with the world around her are simple, direct and open. This is shown through her interpretation of various objects. "Our garden was large and beautiful as that Garden in the bible - the tree of life grew there." As common with other writers such as Joyce in "Portrait of the artist as a young man", Rhys adds an element of autism to the observations of the child. ...read more.

Middle

There is no absolute truth to the story. For example, in Daniel Cosway's predicament, even the reader is not completely sure of the truth, which in a sense forces them to trust even more in the words of the characters. The reader is very much a part of story in that we must make the effort to distance ourselves from the characters in order to objectively review their actions. Since Antoinette is the first narrator, all the information we are given is through her. We cannot make judgements on her actions at first like we can when we read Rochester's narrative, because we have no prior knowledge. Rhys manages, by switching the narration, to make the reader become the omniscient viewer. We can compare and contrast the different attitudes of the characters, even when they cannot clearly see where they are going. The reader can take into account that the view of Antoinette will invariably change with the switch in narratives, but we can account for that change with the basic truth Antoinette has given us at the beginning of the book. This is one reason why starting the book with her as a child was so good. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is, in some ways, why we cannot have sympathy for Rochester. He does not give us that emotion. He describes situations, trying to be objective, but they are only skewed by his opinions. He refuses to share with us that emotion, and we cannot understand as easily when he does. Rhys' goal in Wide Sargasso Sea was to ask the reader to re-evaluate "Jane Eyre". She disagreed with the pigeonholing of this character as simply "mad", and disputed the villainy of her actions. Therefore, it was key that Rhys presents Antoinette in such a way that the reader will significantly change their opinion about her. All these literary aspects serve to turn Antoinette from the simple, isolated, stereotypical "mad woman in the attic" into a character with feelings, desires, fears and history. Rhys is quite literally making a heroine from a villain. The only feasible way to achieve this is for Rhys to take us inside the characters head. It is a credit to her skill as a writer that she manages to build such a relationship between Antoinette and the reader, and even go so far as to turn Rochester into the villain. Techniques such as stream of consciousness, passage of time and imagery all help to form a unique picture of this already established character. ...read more.

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