October 2007 Archives

Clash of the Cultures


Ciolkowski, Navigating The Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, And British Empire
EL237--Writing About Literature

We could pretty much make the assumption that Jamaica has been a one of the world's melting pots of culture. In this article, Laura Ciolkowski, is stating how both the British and African cultures in Jamaica are colliding in Wide Sargasso Sea for a chance in the spotlight.

The description of how these cultures clash is described in this quote:
Not quite English and not quite "native", Rhys's Creole woman straddles the embattled divide between human and savage, core and periphery, self and other.

Antonette had always had to battle where her loyalties lie, to the mother country (England) or her home (Jamaica). It seems like her very existence is a culture clash. Can she indeed be a model Englishwoman to "expand and defend the English empire" by bearing the sons it needs? I doubt it and so does Ciolkowski. Antonette is what she called "the Hybrid Body", the symbol of the problems of the culture.

Even the novel itself fight for what side in this battle that it is on. Ciolkowski described the typical and most of the time sterotypical view of Jamaica through English eyes. Even though Wide Sargasso Sea is about Jamaica, it was written by a British subject.Nevertheless Rhys steps out of her "God Save The Queen" shell and continue to speak for Antonette, the symbol of the cultures, and a "silent madwoman with a chance to sell her story". There is another quote that I can think of :

Wide Sargasso Sea resists English imperial common sense, mapping out instead the multiple battles over what gets to count as the way things are. That Rhys plays out these battles on the terrain of the English novel, situating her text both beside and against Charlotte Bronte's nineteenth-century canonical narrative of English womanhood, is no surprise; rather, such explicity intertextual struggles have helped critical readers of Rhys's fiction to place Rhys within a postcolonial literary tradition that is specifically interested in rewriting the fictions of English empire.

It was also pointed out in this article that Rhys goes against the grain in this particular mode of postcolonialism. In fact the whole novel is a model of resistance against the empire where the sun never sets. It also fits into the spot of postcolonial opposition, this could be used as a medium to portray resistance at every turn. 


Don't Believe The Hype


Mardorossian, Double (De)Colonization and the Feminist Criticism of Wide Sargasso Sea
EL237--Writing About Literature

Jen had mentioned that the only reason why we see Antonette/Bertha a certain way because of the fact that every one else create this persona of her. It seems that every character in the novel seemed to be pushed by a force that defines them. Mardorossian gives us how Rhys makes us see the different kinds of characters in Wide Sargasso Sea . We see former black slaves, white Creole elite, and everyone else in between because of the situations that we see them in. In novels that deal with so many different groups of people, some sort of problem will ensue.

There Goes The Phallus


Kendrick, Edward Rochester And the Margins of Masculinity in Jane Eyre And Wide Sargasso Sea

EL237--Writing About Literature

Kendrick had made a point when he stated that Rochester in a way isn't exactly the "mature man" as he claim to be. According to the VIctorian gentleman standards, he has no money, but his wife does...makes him look like he is missing something. Wow, it seems like Rochester is the laughing stalk of both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. He thought by marrying a trophy wife such as Antonette, he would be looked upon as the big man in town. It is as if the money and the wife is trying to compensate for something that is completely missing. Kendrick had slyly brought up the phallus in talking about the inadequacies of Rochester.
How does the concept of the phallus plays off in strongly femininst novels like Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea?

Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys

Writing About Literature-- EL 237


One thing that I have noticed about this particular story in relation to Jane Eyre is that there is a schism between two groups of people that sets the tone of this story. In Jane Eyre, it was rich and poor and in Wide Sargasso Sea it is whites and blacks. The fact that Antonette's family is living amongst blacks who really resents the social chokehold that the whites (English, preferably) had on the area. But there is always one character, in this case Antonette, that could at first live among blacks is beginning to have some some of resentment toward them. Especially when her brother Pierre was killed and her entire family was driven out of Coulibri. This was the Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1834, a prime point of Jamaican history. There is a quote that sticks out to me about the entire issue of race in Wide Sargasso Sea ( I want to stress that this is a quote from the book): "Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and black nigger better than white nigger." Who could anyone live under so much pressure and not have it affect them negatively, white or black. I like how Rhys mix in a historical event into a book that is based on a minor character of another book. It seems like a lot of work to make these literary connections to another piece of work.

How far do you think Rhys had to go in order to go in order to make one of Bronte's characters into her own? How can Rhys develop a situation that surrounds and involves a character that is not hers to begin with?   

I know that this particular semester started off with a very rocky start but I thought that I have learned a lot in this class:

Depth and Coverage

Give us this day, Our Daily Mask

The Sick Genius Of Hamlet

Forgive and Forget


Keys to the Gate


The Sick Genius Of Hamlet


Jen Prex

Methodical Madness


The Devil is Laughing and Drinking Lemonade

To Forgive and Forget


Jane Eyre, Bronte
EL237-- Writing About Literature

It's chapter 21, Jane goes back to Gateshead to the people who has treated her wrong throughout her childhood and she tries to make amends. This forces the reader to feel even more sympathy for Jane Eyre. Because Mrs. Reed had refused to open her heart to Jane, it gives Jane even more reason to hate her. She doesn't. Is it because she is dying? If she wasn't, do you think that Jane would be so kind? I think Jane had evry reason to hate her since we learned that Mrs. Reed held the fact that her father was looking for her. I want to stress how much of a turn this is in the story. It gives Jane more of heart than any other character in the story.

Must Keep In Good Health


Bronte, Jane Eyre
Writing About Literature--EL 237

When I the assigned section of this story there was one exchange that I found ineresting in Chapter 4 between Jane Eyre and Mr. Brocklehurst:

"Do you know where the wicked go after death?"
"They go to hell," was my ready orthodox answer.
"And what is hell? Can you tell me that?"
"A pit full of fire."
"What must you do to avoid it?"
"I must keep in good health and not die"

I love it! This exchange shows the complete pragmatism that Jane has about life and she is only ten. Now I have not read this book before but I'm beginning to see the character of Jane being built up in this story. I think this is becoming a theme in Victorian novels: Children are being abused, ophaned, and basically ignored. I think that the Victorians had some sort of messed of view on how a child go through hard times. Jane just embodies the "keeping you head above water" attitude at such a young age and her character demands some sort of attention. I have a question:

Do you think that Jane's attitude will get her far into the future in her novel?