Antoinette: Wide Sargasso Sea

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AP Literature
10/29/12
Deriving Antoinette’s Insanity
In the novel, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, one of the main characters goes through emotional chaos. That character’s name is Antoinette. She grew up in Jamaica in a rich family. After her brother Pierre died, her mother went crazy. Later on in the book, Antoinette goes crazy as well. Some critics believe that Antoinette’s madness is heredity. I disagree with that critique. The primary source of Antoinette’s madness is from the harsh treatment of her husband, Rochester. There are smaller causes as well, like the night when slaves burned down her family’s house. Antoinette is devastated. The continuous devastation along with cruel treatment from people around her cause her insanity

In the beginning of the novel, Antoinette is a solitary young girl. She wanders the island, learning about the world. The fact that she is white creates tension between her and the Jamaican people. Her family also has a lot of money and most people there are poor. Tia becomes her only real friend. She loses that friend mainly because Tia is black and she is white. Jamaican people didn’t like her family. One night the slaves burn down her house, laughing and throwing stones at the family. This shocks Antoinette. She likes the Jamaican people. During the fire she sees Tia and thinks, “I will live with Tia and be like her. Not to leave Coulibri. Not to go. Not.” Just as she thinks this, Tia throws a stone at her. Emotionally, this is the start of much devastation in her life.

Later on in the novel, Antoinette is married to Rochester. At first, they seem happy together. Antoinette shows him the island she grew up on and tells him stories of her childhood. Antoinette feels love again. Little does she know, Rochester feels nothing but lust for her. Rochester leads Antoinette on even more by having sex with her. Antoinette is the happiest she has ever been in her life. Rochester still feels...
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