Running head: Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea – Book (Response Paper)
Through Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea story, the author describes a constant element of entrapment that leads to physical as well as ideological slavery for various characters. For example, even after the 1833 Emancipation Act has been passed, poor former slaves still exist in Antoinette’s society. The slaves, who have not been compensated as per the Act, are thus trapped by poverty that makes them remain servants to the white aristocracy. On her part, Antoinette views her life within t Coulibri Estate as a kind of entrapment that unnecessarily restricts her activities. Conversely, Mr. Mason’ marriage to Annette – Antoinette’s mother – shows that the lady is ideologically and physically enslaved to Mr. Mason because Annette cannot really reject the marriage offer since she requires Mr. Mason’ financial assistance. Further, Antoinette’s husband is an ideological slave to Richard Mason – Mason’s son – because Richard induces the husband to marry Antoinette (Rhys and Henkins 116). Consequently, Antoinette becomes a physical and ideological slave to her husband since the wife cannot make her own independent decisions. In effect, through the Wide Sargasso Sea story, Rhys illustrates that various characters are physical and ideological slaves and are thus entrapped by various issues.
For instance, the black slaves are real as well as ideological slaves to their white masters who have trapped them in poverty. The slave’s mutiny attempts are testimony to this phenomenon. Moreover, Antoinette’s constant complaint that she is ‘marooned’ in Coulibri Estate demonstrates her entrapment and enslavement to the estate’s boring routine. Conversely, after marrying Mr. Mason, Annette becomes an ideological slave to him as is evident through her extreme dependency on Mason, for example, to refurbish Coulibri Estate. Likewise, Antoinette’s is a real as well as an ideological slave to her English husband. She puts up with all his unpleasant acts besides being physically locked up as the story ends.
In conclusion, the experiences that Antoinette, Annette, as well as the black slaves undergo in Wide Sargasso Sea show that such characters are literal or ideological slaves who are trapped by certain circumstances. This aspect makes the issue of slavery and entrapment as one of Rhys’ main themes.
Rhys, Jean and Henkins, Hilary. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.