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October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

Well...I Don't Know About That

"By her act of narration, she retains her tenuous fragile hold on sanity, on life itself, since to narrate is to live, to order a life, to 'make sense' out of it. If 'narrative is a strategy for survival' (Marlatt, How Hug a Stone, p. 75), Antoinette survives only as long as she creates narratives."
~"And it Kept its Secret": Narration, Memory, and Madness in Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea by Kathy Mezei, page 197.

I can see where this is coming from, but I'm not sure that I fully buy this. My original understanding of this line was at least disproved, for that made even less sense. Based on my current understanding of this and the rest of the essay, I guess the main idea is that Antoinette is narrating all of these past events in the present time--for her. The author claims that it is the fact that part 3 is so much more disjointed than part 1 that helps us to see how far she is deteriorating. I have to say, though, that this would only make sense under two conditions: 1) she narrates part 1 long before she narrates part 2, or 2) she deteriorates incredibly fast--even her few moments of narration in part 2 are fairly lucid. The other thing I find that doesn't fully add up is that if narrating helps to hold her together, why does she deteriorate? The only possible solution to this that I can come up with is the fact that she doesn't narrate much in part 2, and this break takes its toll on her.

Any thoughts?

Helen's Significance

The first blog entry I wrote on Jane Eyre had to do with religion. When I found this article--"Bronte's JANE EYRE" by Mark Reger--I figured I might as well come full circle. Though this isn't only about religion, it does discuss Helen's importance in Jane Eyre's life. One of the ways in which she is important is through religion.

"Helen provides an alternative to the only Christianity Jane has known. Helen does show Jane Christian resignation, but, more significantly, she shows her a more merciful and loving Christianity as well..." (214).

Up until Helen leads Jane to know otherwise, Jane only knows about the fire and brimstone aspect of religion--as this author also points out. It is Helen that opens Jane up to true faith, not just faith by fear and subversion.

"Helen explains what Jane does not realize--that having Brocklehurst for an enemy will lose her no friends at Lowood, where 'he is little liked'" (214).

The author explains that though Helen believes in the ideal of "passivity," she is not. She talks to Jane when she's not supposed to to tell her that she'll be fine. If Helen had not broken this rule set by Brockelhurst, Jane would have been under the impression that she will be alone. Lowood would become her own personal hell as Gateshead did. Helen saves her from having to go through this.

"Almost immediately Jane begins to alter her behavior" (213).

The author explains how Helen influences Jane when it comes time for her to tell Miss Temple the truth about her life at Gateshead in order to clear her name. If it wasn't for Helen, Miss Temple very well could have thought Brocklehurst was right about Jane being a lier. Jane, however, heeded Helen's advice that she needed to be more "subdued."

Furthermore, even though Helen is not mentioned much after her death in the novel, she is still important to Jane. I'll admit that I didn't pick up on this particular fact until I read this essay. In chapter 9 of Jane Eyre, Jane visits Helen's grave 15 years later. As the author points out, this would be after Jane has married Rochester.

October 28, 2007

Convenient Insanity

"His [Daniel Cosway's] claim to know the secrets of the Cosway family accounts to claim to all of the knowledge that has escaped or mocked Rochester during his marriage....Though Rochester refuses to pay Cosway, he nonetheless believes him, precisely because Daniel Cosway believes in the fiction of 'Edward Rochester, Gentleman.'"
~"Edward Rochester and the Margins of Masculinity in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea" by Kendrick

This does make sense, based on what we know of Rochester from the two novels. It seems as if he always tends to go for whatever is most convenient for him. In the case of Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea, he doesn't love her. He married her for her money. The convenient solution to his loveless marriage is what Cosway presents to him--insanity. If she is insane, he can lock her away and never have to really deal with her. He can just pay someone to take care of her and then simply pretend that she doesn't exist--for as long as he is able, that is.


"She [Rhys] explained that 'I've never believed in Charlotte's lunatic, that's why I wrote this book [Wide Sargasso Sea' (296)."
~"Double (De)colonization and the Feminist Criticism of Wide Sargasso Sea" by Mardorossian

I found this to be interesting. I can kind of see where she's coming from. Bertha is a flat character in Jane Eyre. She's also portrayed in a melodramatic way--which makes her seem even more unreal. In a science fiction or fantasy style novel, this would not come across as much. Everything in those types of stories have a fantastical element about them, so nothing like this would seem out of place. In Jane Eyre, however, there are very few things that have this quality. As a result, the few things that are out of the ordinary seem out of place and completely fake.

I guess then that Rhys's interpretation of Bertha, or Antoinette, is that if she is crazy, it's because of others' influence. She was forced to become crazy.

Another completely different possibility, however, could be that she was simply trying to turn a flat character into a dynamic character.

Maybe it's a combination of the two.

Any ideas?

October 24, 2007

Caged Bird

'Even if I got away (and how?) he [Rochester] would force me back. So would Richard. So would everybody else. Running away from him, from this island, is the lie. What reason could I give for going and who would believe me?'
~Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, page 113.

In class on Tues, we discussed how the fire in part one of this book was a type of foreshadowing for the fire we knew would come in the end. Along with this, the point was brought up that the bird's death was foreshadowing as well. I think this line from part two best sums up how Antoinette is similar to the bird. She feels like she is trapped. She really has no way out. If she would make an attempt at freedom, everyone would force her back. It seems she starts the fire and jumps at the end not only because of the dream, but also because it is a way to freedom...the only way she can leave without fear of anyone bringing her back. This feeling of being trapped may have been yet another reason she went crazy. Then again, it could also just be a side effect of her mental deterioration.

October 21, 2007

Quite a Shift

"There we were, sheltering from the heavy rain under a large mango tree, myself, my wife Antoinette and a little half-caste servant who was called Amélie."
~Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, page 65

I have to admit that, at first, I was a little confused when the point of view shifted from Antoinette to Rochester. It didn't take me long to realize it, but there was no indication except for that one sentence. At first I was a little disappointed. I thought it would be interesting to read this entire story from Antoinette's point of view. However, I can understand why Rhys might have chosen to write it this way instead. In writing this portion of the book from Rochester's point of view, it keeps the reader guessing. One second I think I have a pretty good idea of what's going on, but when something else happens, I'm back to being unsure. If I would look at this in terms of good guys and bad guys, I have to admit that--at the moment--I think of Antoinette as good yet misunderstood, Rochester as a gray area character, and Richard as a bad guy. I don't think that my opinion of Richard will change, but I'm still not sure about Antoinette and Rochester. My opinion on them seems to change almost by a page-by-page basis.

October 16, 2007

Unfinished Business

"The suggestion was sensible; and yet I could not force myself to act on it."
~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, page 470

I think Jane had to go back to Thornfield in the end. She needed the closure--as did the reader. Though I half expected her to marry Rochester in the end, I did have my doubts. I think, though, that that was the only way to end it--the only way that wouldn't be overly bittersweet, at least. Jane couldn't marry St. John. It would have been a loveless marriage. Neither would have been truly happy. Jane would not have been fully happy living on her own, even though she was fully prepared to do that. Only by marrying her one true love could she be happy.

October 11, 2007


I chose to do my reflection on Kevin’s entry, “The Sick Genius Known as Hamlet.” The idea that each of the characters’ understandings of Hamlet’s madness is dependent upon their own personal concerns is interesting. That is something I never thought about while I was reading the play, but it makes sense. Their own concerns may be subconscious. Their own way of acknowledging it is through Hamlet’s madness.

As for the question Kevin posed at the end—“Do you think that Hamlet would have avenged his father if he would have killed Claudius immediately?—I think that, yes, he would have—as I answered in my comment. Whether Hamlet killed him as soon as he found the truth or had waited twenty years to do so, it would not have made a difference. Revenge is revenge. I do have to agree with Diana, though. I don’t think Hamlet would have been capable of committing murder early in the play. It’s possible that any madness he did possess came from this realization of what he felt he had to do. If he remained ‘sane,’ he would not be capable of avenging his father. Only by becoming ‘insane’ could he accomplish this. It’s just a thought.

Portfolio 1

This is my first blogging portfolio for Writing About Literature, but my fourth overall. This was, however, my first experience with a blogging carnival.

This will cover all of the blog entries I have completed for this class thus far. I've found that while I still have some random entries, I'm choosing more and more topics that are more directly about the readings.

Continue reading "Portfolio 1" »

October 10, 2007

This Sounds Familiar

"Too often she had betrayed this, by the undue vent she gave to a spiteful antipathy she had conceived against little Adele: pushing her away with some contumelious epithet if she happened to approach her; sometimes ordering her from the room, and always treating her with coldness and acrimony."
~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, page 210.

I wonder if this is where the idea of the mean fiancée disliking the child and the true love came from. I know this novel doesn't take it quite as far as some of the other stories that have this idea, but the idea had to originate somewhere. I know I can name two movies off the top of my head that contain this idea: It Takes Two and The Parent Trap. The first of these two took the idea straight to the alter. The second was probably more along the lines of how it was in Jane Eyre. I was actually half expecting this to turn out that Mr. Rochester would break off the engagement at the wedding. While that scene would have been humorous, I'm glad it wasn't the case. That would not have been as original--by today's standards, anyways.

October 8, 2007

Which is which?

I think, for the most part, there is a couple major difference between Academia and Popular Fiction. One of which is that Academia writings tend to make the reader word more as he/she is reading, whereas Popular Fiction writings are more straight forward. There are, of course, exceptions to this--as with anything else--but I've found this to be the case, generally.

I think another type of writing that makes it into the Academia category is something that is relevant historically. Take The Crucible by Arthur Miller, for example. This play was historically relevant on two levels. On the surface, it was about the Salem Witch Trials. At that particular time, however, there was also the matter of the Red Scare, which resulted in a situation similar to the Salem Witch Trials, though thankfully not as extreme.

Wicked, a popular modern musical, would most likely be considered by most to simply be Popular Fiction. This does contain issues of segregation and racism as well as the ever popular fear and hatred of the misunderstood--as seen all throughout history--but all of this is on the surface. Someone may disagree, but from my understanding, this seems to be one of the main determining factors, since the lines tend to be blurred.

Another huge factor, I believe, is the matter of time. I could be wrong, but I don't think I've ever come across any Academia writings that were recently published. It all depends on what the next generation values. For all we know, J. K. Rowling could be the new Chaucer a century from now. With how popular the Harry Potter series is now, that wouldn't surprise me. Besides, there is much that can be analyzed in those books. Anyways, my point is that there is no true way of knowing which current writings will eventually be considered Academia. What we think now has no relevance. It's all about what people think in the future.

Different Outlooks

'Oh, madam, when you put bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge into these children's mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!'
~Mr. Brocklehurst in Bronte's Jane Eyre, page 75.

'I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to him without any misgiving. God is my father; God is my friend: I love him; I believe he loves me.'
~Helen in Bronte's Jane Eyre, page 95.

Continue reading "Different Outlooks" »

October 3, 2007


"Characters and their actions can often be equated with certain ideas and values."
~Writing About Literature by Roberts, page 123

I think that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Tom Stoppard's play can be equated with the idea of carefree living. Throughout almost the entire play, these two characters have many random conversations that give them the appearance of not really taking life too seriously. The play opens with them simply tossing a coin in the air and betting on heads or tales. There is one particular scene later in act one in which the two simply go back and forth answering questions with questions. At the same time, they are serious when it is necessary to be. Maybe the whole point of this is to take things seriously when necessary, but otherwise have fun. No one can be completely serious at all times.

Does anyone have a different take on this?

About October 2007

This page contains all entries posted to JenniferPrex in October 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

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