‘The Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys, works as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s famous Victorian novel ‘Jane Eyre’, where Bertha is portrayed as the ‘madwoman in the attic’. Rhys explores the reasons that lead to Antoinette’s/Bertha’s descent into ‘madness.’ Antoinette, is time and again uprooted from her comforts and oppressed by societal norms, as well as, from a very young age, forced to see and experience the wrath of the colonialist society, which prevents her from finding an identity for herself. Antoinette is set apart from the rest of the community she can’t characterise herself in the way she is expected to. This book illustrates Antoinette’s childhood as one characterised by extreme tribulation and a confused identity; this childhood instability can be viewed as the main reason for her loss of soul.In the end, her husband’s lack of passion drives her to lose her bearings. Therefore, marriage is the most compelling metaphor that the author uses to portray the changing life circumstances and subsequent loss of identity of Antoinette.
By: Ayesha Khosla