Assist. Prof. Dr. Gillian M.E. Alban
ING633 Gender Studies II: Mad, Maligned and Marginal
Against Society: Women’s Language, Body and Madness in Wide Sargasso Sea and Sula This paper is about women’s language, body and madness and also explains silence, mad and evil women in Wide Sargasso Sea that is written by Jean Rhys and Sula that is written by Toni Morrison. The first novel Wide Sargasso Sea contains women’s body, silence, feminist theories and racial oppression against patriarchy. Jean Rhys, using these perspectives, tells the story of Antoinette, patriarchy, British dominated rules and roles and limited perspectives of a woman. In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys “exposes the marginalized condition of women within the patriarchal issues such as colonialism, race, political oppression and mental illness” (Carr 123). In this colonized and male dominated society, Jean Rhys explains the silent mad woman. This mad woman represents Bertha in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre who is Mr Rochester’s mad wife. Bertha is an important figure imprisoned in her husband’s attic like Antoinette. Jean Rhys actually tries to reflect Jane Eyre against society in the point of patriarchy and madness. Jean Rhys “develops Bertha’s identity by giving the reader access to the character’s interiority, as expressed through interruptions in the narrative by disjointed memories, dreams and tangential thoughts within parenthetical asides” (Chan 1). Jean Rhys develops Bertha’s identity using Antoinette. The novel heroine Antoinette Cosway is a Creole woman and she lives with her mother Annette, her brother Pierre and her servant Christophine. Antoinette faces a rigid childhood and her mother Annette leaves her very much because Annette spends most of her time with her son Pierre. Her childhood has difficult family relations and no supports. Rhys deconstructs family relations and shapes a silent woman in the society. This silent woman
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