On another note, the very idea of madness that has been centrally and strongly attributed to the character of Antoinette can be extracted from the reflection that she has the uneasy sentiment of lacking the ability to create a separating line between and distinguish dreams and the real world. With her subsequent understanding that oftentimes her very perception of reality eventually dissolves into something more like that of a dream, she hardly has what most normal human beings have—the capacity to firmly convey what is real from what is not.
There, too, are aspects in the two characters that shed an illuminating light on their very differences, factors that have strongly etched a demarcating line between them, setting them in contrast not only in terms of the very actions they portrayed in the novel but also in terms of the social backgrounds they possess. Far more worth noting is the idea that, the degrees of these social and cultural differences have been bridged, at least for once in their lives, at the time when they were married, proving that, amidst the differences, both can live with it—albeit not for too long.
It must be understood that Rochester is of an English background and that Antoinette is of Creole origin, the latter being someone inhabiting the Caribbean regions and is either of European or of English ancestry. This obvious distinction provides the background for the further understanding that societal situations where they exist bear a strong influence on their perception of the world as a whole and of the “other” parts of the world of which they know little of or have never settled-in in a considerable expanse of time.
With Rochester’s societal background, one can comprehend that to live in the Caribbean is a sort of a fantasy-turned-reality as one who has for so long resided in an area of a dense population busy with their lives with their horizon hidden away from view by buildings and structures that shadow their vision of nature. For Antoinette, on the other hand, a form of confusion on her understanding of who she really is, from what place in the society she properly belongs, or if, indeed, she belongs to anywhere at all.
In the novel, Rochester appears to protest before Antoinette the busy life in the city inasmuch as he appears to strongly admire and appreciate the value of the Caribbean nature that is nowhere else to be found. Antoinette, on the other hand, dreams of seeing Rochester’s place and being there at some point in time as much as she has begun to lose admiration on the beauty of Granbois.
This stark difference in the attitude of the two main protagonists in the novel tells us that, in some sense, people from the opposite sides of the world appear to have a form of yearning to what is beyond their immediate senses, especially to regions that speak of nothing that is instantaneously present in their locality. This distinction in perception further emphasizes the notion that people do get bored and get dulled by the constancy of what they see and feel around them, that at some point in time these people will literary cross borders just to get to the other side.
Rochester did, and Antoinette is yet on the verge of beginning to explore that part of the world although at the end of the novel death stood against her way of achieving it. Far more interesting to note is that even with a form of attachment to their presumed place in the society, both characters appear to be instead detached from their societal backgrounds and that, within these detachments, dichotomies arise.
In the situation of Rochester, he has been a disenfranchised second son and that, at some point, he has begun to be fond of the Caribbean as he began to despise the busy life in England, thus creating a gap between Rochester and the very idea of his social background as much as it, too, impresses upon his understanding that there is more to life beyond the society in which he originally belongs. Antoinette, on the other hand, also appears to be detached from the Caribbean society inasmuch as she is confronted with the rising confusion as to what societal backgrounds she belongs to.
This can be drawn from the observation that she neither fits into the group of neither liberated slaves nor the prosperous white people, thereby suggesting the idea that there is a dichotomy between Antoinette and her “confused” social identity. This form of detachment from the society is amplified all the more by the fact that the female protagonist is alienated from the culture of Rochester in the metropolis where Antoinette barely knows anything about.
These differences in the context of the social and cultural backgrounds share a crucial role in shedding light in the failure of their relationship in the sense that they both do not seem to have a common underlying connection, a mutual understanding of their respective societies that could have reinforced their relationship. Their individual societal backgrounds might have impressed unto their minds differing perceptions of the world beyond their societies, and that conflicts between these perceptions is nothing unusual.
Rochester is obviously from a metropolitan culture where coldness and arrogance is tolerated and oftentimes accepted as a norm while Antoinette, on the other hand, is still beleaguered by her confusion on her identity both as a person and as an individual in the society. Conclusion In the entirety of the novel, one can observe underlying presuppositions on the societal backgrounds that shape the very behaviors of the characters. Further, these elements, when contextualized in an “alien” society, appear to conflict with the existing ideologies in a specific region and population.
While the novel portray silhouettes of the role of social conduct and norms in the lives of men and women, the main protagonists in the novel, Rochester and Antoinette struggle with life as they are bombarded by the conflict existing between their worldly perspectives and attitudes towards one another.
“Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. ” Discussing Books, 2000. Plasa, Carl. Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. Reissue ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992. Schirf, Diane L. “Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. ” WebRing Inc. , 2002.