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The Truth Behind The Madness, Wide Sargasso Sea Essay, Research Paper

Defined by the Webster s Dictionary intertextuality means the complex interrelationship between a text and other texts taken as basic of the creation or interpretation of the text. Every author uses intertextuality in their works. This generalization can lead us to the conclusion that no work is original for, in one way or another, it is the product of influences received from the exterior, in some cases the exterior being a previous text. Such is the case of Jean Rhys s novel Wide Sargasso Sea, which is based on Charlotte Bront s Jane Eyre.

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys refunctions Bertha Mason s story from the point of view of Antoinette Cosway, a young Creole with a tragic past, and that of Rochester, the young Englishman to which she is sold into marriage. It is obvious that Jean Rhys meant to write her novel as a prequel to Jane Eyre, as if to expose the truth behind the madness of the madwoman in the attic, by giving Antoinette a voice.

In Chapter XXVI of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bront describes Bertha Mason through Mr. Rochester s speech in the interruption of his wedding with Jane. Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family, idiots and maniacs through three generations! (Bront ). Later, in the same chapter, she is further described as having a discoloured face , a savage face with fearful blackened inflation of the features , the lips were swelled and black . Nowhere in the novel she allows the madwoman in the attic to have a voice, to explain what may have caused her madness. She shows no pity for her, and neither does the reader feels that she deserves some. Jean Rhys identifies with Bertha being she also a West Indian woman.

The parallelism between both novels is clearly marked. Names, places, situations converge in them. For example, we learn through Antoinette in Part One of Wide Sargasso Sea that she is Antoinette Mason, n e Cosway (Rhys), meaning that her real last name is Cosway but was later changed to Mason after her mother married Mr. Mason. Jane Eyre s madwoman in the attic is Bertha Antoinette Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at church, Spanish Town, Jamaica (Bront ) . Through this information given by Mr. Briggs in the wedding we can see that both Antoinette and Bertha Mason are intended to be the same person. Both were born in Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Though in Wide Sargasso Sea Antoinette s mother is called Anette, instead of Antoinetta, as in Jane Eyre, they share a common madness. Her mother, the Creole was both a mad-woman, and a drunkard! as I found after I had wed the daughter: for they were silent on family secrets before (Bront ). Daniel Cosway in his letters to Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea gives us the same information in a more complicated manner.

There are characters that appear in both novels. First we have Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester of Jane Eyre, and Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea, though the latter is hardly mentioned in the novel. Though Jane Eyre develops mainly in England we learn that Mr. Rochester got married in Jamaica Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield England, was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason at church, Spanish Town Jamaica (Bront ) In Wide Sargasso Sea, the wedding is…

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