Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Tragedy of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea

The Tragedy of Wide Sargasso Sea

In Jean Rhys’ novel Wide Sargasso Sea, whether Antoinette Cosway really goes mad in the end is debatable. Nevertheless, it is clear that her life is tragic. The tragedy comes from her numerous pursuits for love and a sense of belonging, and her failure at each and every one of these attempts.

As a child Antoinette, is deprived of parental love. Her father is a drunkard and has many mistresses and illegitimate children. According to Daniel Cosway’s account, old Cosway is cruel to his own son. Yet even if Daniel was not really a Cosway, and his descriptions were made out of spite, or if old Cosway had cared any more for his legitimate children than his bastard ones, his alcoholism is real, and thus he could not have been a loving father to Antoinette.

Her mother, Annette, does not show much motherly affection to her either. Antoinette needs and wants her mother’s love, but Annette is indifferent to her. Once, Antoinette sees her mother frown, and tries to smooth the frown out with her hand,

But she pushed me away, not roughly but calmly, coldly, without a word, as if she had decided once and for all that I was useless to her. She wanted to sit with Pierre or walk where she pleased without being pestered, she wanted peace and quiet.…. ‘Oh, let me alone,’ she would say, ‘let me alone’ (13; part 1).

One night, when Antoinette has had a nightmare, she awakens to see her mother at her bed. This makes her feel safe, but even then her mother has not come to show concern for her, but to look after Pierre, whom is frightened by her noise.

When her needs for love and belonging are neglected by her parents, Antoinette seeks to fulfill them elsewhere. She seeks love from a newly foun…

… middle of paper …

…r her, if there has ever been any, is completely gone, andall that is left is destructive hatred:

If I was bound for hell let it be hell. No more false heavens. No more damned music. You hate me and I hate you. We’ll see who hates best. But first, first I will destroy your hatred. Now my hate is colder, stronger, and you’ll have no hate to warm yourself. You will have nothing (110; part 2).

He thus murders her last hope for love and safety, and brings her to England to be locked away in his attic. This is her second dislocation, this time not only removed from her own familiar world, but completely isolated from the entire world. Here her tragedy is complete, for her heart and soul are killed, and she is but a ghost, with “nothing left but hopelessness” (110; part 2).

Work Cited

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. Ed. Angela Smith. London: Penguin, 1997.

The Treatment of Women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The Treatment of Women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

In reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I find the treatment of the two main female characters– Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker– especially intriguing. These two women are two opposite archetypes created by a society of threatened men trying to protect themselves.

Lucy is the Medusa archetype. She is physically attractive, and wins the heart of any man who comes near her (e.g. Arthur, Quincey, Jack, and Van Helsing). Her chief quality is sensual beauty, but her sexual desire is repressed and not allowed to communicate. And yet both the spiritual side and the sexual side are in her, and when the long repressed sexuality finds a vent, it explodes and takes over completely. In other words, she is transformed into the completely voluptuous female vampire precisely because her sexual side of personality had been completely buried by her Victorian education. Her repressed self needs such expression that when Dracula came along, she went out to greet him, and then invited him into the house (by opening her window to the bat). He is her vent for sexual expression.

When Lucy becomes a vampire herself, John Seward describes her as follows:

She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there; the pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth — which made one shudder to see — the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity (252; ch.16).

And for this voluptuous Lucy he has no pity: “the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing; had she then to be killed, I could have done it with savage delight” (249; ch.16).

But why this attitude? I believe it is the aggressive sexuality that the vampire Lucy displays that …

… middle of paper …

…in excluding her from their undertakings, and include her again. However, now that she is infected with vampire blood and is capable of reading Dracula’s mind, the men both fear and need her. They are forced to accept her in the public realm, but the quest is to eventually rid her of evil influence and restore her purity again, that is, to turn her back into the virtuous woman who will stay in the dominion of the home and not pose a threat to men.

The end of this novel is the restoration of a world as the Victorians know it: the vampire destroyed, the women rid of their evil sexual desires and kept out of the dangerous world outside their homes, and the men safe and free in a male-dominated world, playing their exclusive gallant, intelligent, and adventurous roles.

Text Cited

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Glennis Byron. Peterborough: Broadview, 1998.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.