Wide Sargasso Sea is written as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre. In Bronte’s novel, she showed Jane’s side of the story however she did not mention much about Mr. Rochester’s first wife, Bertha. Thought out the story, we do not know exactly how Rochester and Bertha end up in a marriage. Through Jane’s eye, we already see Bertha as a mad woman because of this reason we have some sympathy toward Rochester who Lock his mad wife in the room. Furthermore, there is a point in the story that Rochester reveals to Jane that he has a ‘dark past’. From this Jean Rhys gets her idea to write Jane Eyre’s prequel which she named it Wide Sargasso Sea. Wide Sargasso Sea is considered to be a Modernist novel because it demonstrates the story in multiple viewpoints. In the first part of the story, Bertha is the one who is telling the story. As the matter of fact, the first thing we realize about her is her real name is not Bertha but it is Antoinette. In this part, we witness her growing up in Caribbean as a White Creole until she gets marriage with Rochester. In the beginning it appears to be a happy marriage yet it turns sour after time.
The second part of the story is presented by Rochester. It is during this part where their marriage gets sour. Towards the end of this part, Antoinette seems to break apart and Rochester takes her back to England. Meanwhile, the last part of the story portray throws Antoinette perspective once again. This part shows Antoinette life in the Thornfield; it is at this part that Bonte’s Jane Eyre and Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea over lap. Jane and Antoinette are completely distinct in the term of character. Firstly, Antoinette never learn to control her emotion which this is one of the factors that leads her to insanity. Meanwhile, Jane as a child, she also does not know how to control her emotion. However, when she grows up even if she still full of emotion, she knows how to keep them in control. We can say that because she had mastered the way to control her feeling her life becomes better in time. In the contrary, Antoinette rather than controls her emotion she lets it takes control of her. She allows emotion to take control of her action without thinking clearly.
For example, she decides that she will drug Rochester to fall in love with her even though Christophine warns her that it will not work. Furthermore, another difference is that Antoinette never learns to forgive. When Jane’s aunt is dying, despite all the facts that she always has been mean to her; she forgives her aunt. On the other hand, Antoinette never learns to forgive Rochester or any one. Forgiveness is a way to reduce emotion, for one to reach peaceful state of mind. Because Antoinette does not forgive it leads to her irrelevant, violence, actions such as stabbing Richard and Burning down Thornfield house. Lastly, what make Jane and Antoinette different is Jane is able stand on her own. Jane is strong figure; hence, she is capable of making her own decision. Like in the end of Jane Eyre, Jane decides to go back to Mr. Rochester. Even if he becomes a disable man, she is going to take care of him. In contrast, Antoinette never appears to be a strong figure. She is weak and always in need of others to support her and make decision for her. For example, she always seeks Chistrophine’s advice and she often leans on her power to protect herself.
For Jane, in time she will learn that only tells her mind straightforwardly is not enough to make herself live happily in the society. She eventually learns how to control her emotion and the most importantly she learns how to forgive. Nevertheless, rather than growing up Antoinette chose to live in the past. Cluster of strong emotions she never able to let them go, in time these emotions will collapse down on her and finally take her down the path of destruction. Nevertheless, Jane and Antoinette still share some identical characteristic. They were both abused in their childhood. They felt like they do not belong in to the place. For Jane, she never felt like she is at ‘home’ at her aunt’s house where she had been abuse mentally and physically. Similarly, as a white Creole, Antoinette felt displacement. English people stay together in their own community and they look down at white Creole like her. At the same time, the former slave hated her. For these reason she feels out of place. For Rochester, we can see how different he is in Jane Eyre and in Wide Sargasso Sea. He seems to be cruel and dominating in Wide Sargasso Sea.
He appears to be hard to understand which has quite irrational actions and also decisions. For instant, he decides to trust stranger rather than his wife and has sex with a servant because he is mad at his wife. Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre is not a handsome clever young man who always says the right thing and always acts in proper behavior. Instead he is a playful type. He is a guy with passion who appears to be on the edge of violence. Yet, he never has real intention to hurt Jane. In addition, we have sympathy toward Rochester in Jane Eyre because we understand that he has no choice but to lock his wife in the room. His wife is crazy; in the Victorian era the mental care for mad people was not a decent place. In his term, he already has done the best for his wife’s sake. However, in Wide Sargasso Sea through Antoinette’s eye, we witness that she is not exactly ‘crazy’ like it appears to be in Jane Eyre. Despite of this fact, Rochester never visits her. However, Rochester in both novels still shares some similar qualities.
They both like to be in control of situation and also woman. In my point of view, the reason Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea appears to be unhappy is because he is not in control of the situation. He is surrounded by women whom he barely knows. Furthermore, he believes that he has no control over his wife because she has Christophine. Therefore, he does not like Christophine and try to get rid of her. Rochester in Jane Eyre is a lot more mature. It is possible that he is more comfortable because he is in authoritative of everything; his fortune and Jane. In my opinion I would say that Wide Sargasso Sea is a convincing prequel to Jane Eyre. In the term of characters, in my point of view Rhys did a great job of convincing that Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea will turn to be Bertha in Jane Eyre. One of the reasons is that Rhys gave Antoinette history that is relevant to Bertha’s action in Jane Eyre. For example, when Antoinette is in her youth her house had been burnt down by her servants and in that incident her parrot, Coco, jump off the window.
While Coco jumped down, burning to dead, the servants run away. This happen because the former slaves considered it as a bad omen. However, the young Antoinette may have interpreted that the fire and the dead is the only way to make bad things go away. Without a doubt, she in the future will escape Thornfield by set the place on fire and jump off the roof. Another event Ryhs try to make reason out off Bertha is when Bertha stabs her brother, Richard. Richard in Wide Sargasso Sea is the person who, in the beginning, negotiated and arranged marriage between Antoinette and Richard. In the third part of the novel, one day Jane woke up cannot remember what happen yesterday. She only knows through the servant, Mrs. Poole, which her brother visited her and she intentionally stabbed him after he said ‘I cannot legally interfered the marriage between you and your husband’ Bronte did not clearly explain the reason behind Bertha action in her book. So, Ryhs portray this incident throw Antoinette side of view.
We can easily understand that she is furious of Richard’s words since it seems he does not take any responsibility of what he had done to her; After all, he is the one who put her into this marriage in the first place. It might be hard for many to believe that Rochester used to have such an unpleasant characteristic. Yet, we must keep in mind that Jane Eyre is portrayed through Jane’s eye. Moreover, before Rochester marries Antoinette he seems to be pleasant enough. It might be because of the situation he is in that makes he acts and thinks irrationally. He feels uncontrolled of the situation. He is frustrated hence he used to have his own fortune but now he has none. For solution he has to marry a stranger and move to live in the strange place. Even though he says that he was trick in to the marriage he should know from the start that she is mad. After all he did lock his wife in a room.