Critique of "Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea

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Roper, Valerie. Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea. Caribbean Quarterly, 34:1/2 (1988:Mar./June) p.19


In her article, "Woman as Storyteller in Wide Sargasso Sea" Valerie Roper asserts that Antoinette is much more than just a narrator. Antoinette tells the story of her life but also illuminates the plight and circumstances of women as increasing self awareness dawns. The duality of Antoinette's identity represents the war within women as they struggle to assimilate their own desires, beliefs, and values with those of the paternalistic society in which they live.

Roper asserts that Wide Sargasso Sea is an attempt by Antoinette to look back and figure out where things went wrong. When did her downward spiral begin? As Antoinette tells her story, she does so with insight and understanding than can only come from time and reflection. Antoinette does not just recount her life, she also relives it. “Through her consciousness she retraces with brutal honesty her psychological journey from isolation to disintegration,” (Roper 19). Roper further contends that Antoinette as the storyteller enabled Rhys to use varying degrees of consciousness to illustrate Antoinette's journey and revelations.

According to Roper, Antoinette's relationship with her mother is the crux of her illness both genetically and psychologically. Her withdrawal, like her mother's was a catalyst for her mental instability, but other factors existed as well. Roper discusses elements and scenes that Antoinette revisits which were important in her development, and ultimately in her unraveling. The road to insanity was much more insidious for Antoinette than it had been for Annette. There were tragic, life-altering events that obviously impacted Annette's mental condition; the death of her husband, isolation from Creole society, and ultimately Pierre's diagnosis. For Antoinette, her mother and...
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