“The heroine’s attractions are so skilfully combined with her shortcomings, the man’s limitations portrayed with so much restraint that the issue of who is to blame remains quiescent” –
March 6th – Today’s lesson will be a bringing together of some pivotal points in the novel and considering how Antoinette is characterised by Rhys.
Selection of critical opinion (AO5) to be discussed:
Francis Hope review of WSS – “The heroine of Wide Sargasso Sea is one of the most arresting minor characters in fiction; the mad West Indian wife in Jane Eyre. This short, moody, claustrophobic book is the story of a young creole girl who became, briefly and disastrously the first Mrs Rochester.”
(Antoinette’s) interior monologues have the bright inconsequence of a child’s perceptions in a garden – look at this flower, catch this butterfly. Touching enough in a child, it becomes gruesome in a woman whom circumstances and heredity together keep permanently childish”
“Her scatter-brained narrative is a commentary in itself”
Carol Angier – “beautiful and unprotected – as clearly marked for doom as the heroine of any melodrama”
“Antoinette’s tragedy is at least in part the tragedy of the society to which she belongs”
“Antoinette becomes mad because she is dispossessed”
“She is, to use the author’s own image, the orchid which Mr. Rochester tramples in the mud”
In pairs of threes (someone you don’t normally work with)
- Read Pgs. 18 & 48 – Rochester promises Antoinette ‘Peace, happiness, safety’ – how does this compare to her wishes on page 18?
- How is the moth of pgs..,
- 49-50 symbolic of Antoinette?
- ‘Have all beautiful things sad destinies?’ – what do you think is the significance of Antoinette’s comment?
- What does the reader learn about A from the following comments:
- “I’ll wear that dress you like tonight” and “You must let me cover you up”
- Explain the significance of Rochester renaming Antoinette Bertha (and later marionette)
- What is the significance of the comment on page 81 – “two deaths, the real one and the one people know about”
- What do you make of the following quotation by Dared and Done
“Rum became the demon for colonial women as well as men, and opium was widely used in the C18th among wives of the planters who often lived in the same proximity or in the same house as their husband’s African mistresses”
- What are Antoinette’s most distinctive characteristics? Find some quotations to support your ideas.
- What do you think leads to Antoinette’s destruction? (quotations)
- Context – What ideas/aspects of society might Antoinette symbolise?