Wide Sargasso Sea Landscape & Identity

1579 words - 7 pages

Every time we look out the window or go on a road trip, we notice the beautiful scenery that surrounds us, the composition of nature. And we often wonder how a mountain has taken this shape, or how these trees seem to line up to create and seamlessly endless path. Nature has its way of telling it's own history, a story of it's past, and the past of everything that surrounds it. In the postcolonial novel Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, the Caribbean landscape is used as an agent to be interpreted by two different characters, Antoinette and Rochester, in this prequel. Each of them will have a very different opinion of the environment, and will provide an implicit analysis of it. Their ...view middle of the document...

This shows us that he feels even more isolated, by his sight and his sense of smell. As for Antoinette, she feels very much at ease in this place. She seems to be so familiar with the surroundings, that her husband asks her to identify the types of birds. That is because the birds are part of her Caribbean heritage. Also, she tells him when to wear his coat, foreseeing when it is going to be cold instead of cool. She utilises nature as if she has lived there all her life, making cups out of leafs. Therefore, Rochester does not feel comfortable in the Caribbean, because everything is so unreal to him, whereas Antoinette gives us the impression that this is all she ever wanted, and understands her surroundings.But to understand her surroundings, she must know the past, the history of the Caribbean, something that Rochester does not seem to be acquainted to. The husband wants to try to discover the history, but he is too blinded by his own, one of a "superior" Englishman. As he walks in the forest, he does not look at the tress on the side, but instead only looks forward. He fails to see what is going on around him, and focuses on his selfish goals. This symbolizes the white man using black people as slaves, without seeing the consequences on the black people, only what good the owners can extract from them. Rochester notices very tall trees growing around the ruins, yet does not interpret it as a new civilization that rose from a destroyed past. We can say that Rochester can see but he is blind, because he does not pay attention to what the landscape is trying to tell him, as with the orange tree. "Under the orange tree I noticed little bunches of flowers tied with grass."(87) Maybe this means that the white man, the orange tree, still dominates the black people, the flowers, but only because they are tied down with something like grass, which could symbolize money in the modern day because of the green colour. But he probably doesn't want to admit this to himself about the past, one that still lives on. That is why he doesn't want to comprehend nature. As for Antoinette, we feel as if the environment and her are communicating, and she's picking up on its signals. When she says "What a beautiful tree, but it is too high up here for mangoes and it may never bear fruit"(90) and right after, she talks about her husband and how he doesn't love her. This is very true because she understands that altitude means evolution, times have changed. Three days earlier, her husband slept with one of his servants. In the past this was very common, but since the tree is too high now, the "man" cannot "go" and bear fruit, neither with Amelie nor Antoinette. She understands that Rochester is trying to stay in the figure of the past, the figure of a powerful Englishman slave owner who sleeps with his slaves. Thus, Antoinette has post-emancipation mentality and can gain from the landscape, and Rochester still wants to live in the past, so he doesn't understand what...

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