Consequences Followed by Madness

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Consequences Followed by Madness

Andrea Coulter

Dr. Laila Amine

Survey of African Diaspora Literature

29 October 2017

Consequences Followed by Madness

The spirit of madness and imprisonment embraces the novel, “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys. Oddly so, it is not just the relationship between blacks and whites that is full of entrapment, but also many characters of the novel are affected. A huge theme that stands out here is madness and imprisonment. Antoinette, the daughter of Annette, is trapped in a relationship that she did not want in the beginning. Little does she know, she will soon be imprisoned from the rest of the world completely. The brutality of life and the people around her and her family was also the cause of her madness. Next, the novel presents the wealthy Edward Rochester, who is trapped not only with a madwoman for the rest of his life, he is trapped because he needs to oblige his family by marrying Antoinette for financial reasons. Even after the death of his father and older brother, he cannot escape what has been done. Not to mention, each of these characters slowly go mad because of their own decisions. When they are both presented with a choice to live better lives by Christophine, Antoinette’s former handmaiden, both Antoinette and Rochester’s passion gets the best of them. As the reader goes on the journey with Antoinette and Rochester, one will notice that because of this imprisonment (mental and physical) caused by their own choices, it resulted in each character's madness.

Antoinette suffers through social pressure because of who her family is and the color of her skin by the native people. As a child, she suffers from the bullying from the people at Coulibri Estate. While Emancipation Act has freed the slaves when she was a child, reimbursement was not given to the black community of the island, which caused hatred and bitterness between the servants and their employers. Antoinette and her family are fully aware of this kind of resentment toward her family. Antoinette is trapped here and they cannot leave because they have nowhere else to go. In Antoinette’s defense, she could not control where lived because she was just a little girl. However, this had to have had something to do with Antoinette’s insanity.

Antoinette can be seen as a victim and an agent because of the decisions made throughout the novel. Her dependency on many of the characters in the novel is one of the many things that lead her to her madness. Of course, her dependency on people originates from the lack of love and affection from her mother, Annette. She suffers a condition of solitude because she spends her life as an orphan. Her father passed away when was young, and Annette pays no attention to her. She was far more concerned and showed more affection toward Antoinette’s brother, Pierre. Though she remembers her mother showing some kind of love toward her, however, she says,