Monday, April 7, 2008

Jean Rhys' life and its affect on her writing

In the novel Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys underlines the pressure that colonization and imperialism have on the relations between foreigners and natives of countries like Jamaica. By explaining to us the past life of Bertha (Antoinette) she brings out pieces of her own life experience. I noticed these similarities in her life when I thought about how Charlotte Bronte brought her personal experience into the life of Jane in Jane Eyre, through her experiences at school and life as a whole. Jean Rhys does the same thing in Wide Sargasso Sea, taking on a perspective of someone who until she was sixteen, lived in Dominica and around people who could have been like the characters in her novels. Because she does this so well, and exposes the readers to what life was like for the different races, she can easily portray what Antoinette was going through in her younger years.

The issue of race as far as colonization and imperialism is concerned was quite possibly the biggest influence on Jean's writing of Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys' mother was a white Creole and her father a Welsh doctor. The impact that imperialism had on her younger life and relations with people of color is highlighted in her work through Antoinette. I think that it is evident that these type stories that Antoinette goes through, might not be entirely fictional and could have been something that Jean had heard happened or experienced herself.

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