Voices of Wide Sargasso Sea

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In the second part of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, the reader gains a new perspective on the narrative as the story begins to switch between Mr. Rochester and Antoinette’s viewpoints. Through variations in diction and syntax, Rhys distinguishes between Rochester and Antoinette’s voices in “Part Two” of the novel.

The second part of the novel begins in Mr. Rochester’s point of view. There is a noticeable deviation in diction and syntax in Mr. Rochester’s voice from Antoinette’s earlier narration. Mr. Rochester uses longer and more complex sentences and thoughts to describe and explain events in the novel. His voice follows the conventions of a classical narrative. He provides details, uses complete sentences, and separates his thoughts from conversations. Even when in stressful situations, Rochester maintains a coolly descriptive narrative. Unlike the short, choppy sentences that conveyed Antoinette’s panic in “Part One” of the novel, Rochester’s descriptions remain calm. When terrified and lost in the woods, he eloquently comments that “I was lost and afraid among these enemy trees, so certain of danger that when I heard footsteps and a shout I did not answer.” (95). Yet this quality wanes toward the end of the novel when Rochester panics when considering his future with a mad wife. It is as though his voice deteriorates throughout the section as he encounters problems in his life. When contemplating his life in the end of Part Two, Rochester’s voice displays an uncharacteristic panic and disorder as he talks to himself instead of providing a descriptive narrative.

Antoinette’s voice uses much shorter and less complex sentences and ideas to narrate. Her voice comes off as more of a stream of consciousness than a legitimate narrative. She uses short, often choppy sentences, often repeats words, and asks rhetorical questions. For instance, when contemplating the idea of London, Antoinette drifts off into a paragraph of distracted, incomplete thoughts about the...
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