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Frontiers in Art Research, 2021, 3(5); doi: 10.25236/FAR.2021.030506.

The Sense of Safety and the Ambiguity of Madness in Wide Sargasso Sea


Jingyin Xu

Corresponding Author:
Jingyin Xu

Faculty of English Language and Culture, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510420, Guangdong, China


As an example of rewriting English literary canons, Wide Sargasso Sea presents the life experience of Bertha Mason, "The Madwoman in the Attic" in Jane Eyre, from the Jamaican side and exposes the distortion and construction of the colony history. Renaming Bertha as Antoinette, Jean Rhys gives the Creole woman back her deprived voice and writes her a "life", resisting Charlotte Brontë's distorted representation of the West Indian woman and the imperial and patriarchal discourse embedded in her text. Rhys's intention to challenge Bertha's image as a lunatic and the relevant themes such as race, madness, colonial history have been discussed in a great many of academic works, but the connection between Antoinette's repetitive articulation of her losing sense of safety and her "madness" regretfully attract little attention. This essay argues that Rhys's description of the heroine's losing sense of safety fundamentally produces an ambivalent form of madness, which deconstructs the western invention of Jamaica, offering possibilities to rewrite the Creole cultural identity.


The Madwoman in the Attic, Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, The Sense of Safety, The Emancipation Act

Cite This Paper

Jingyin Xu. The Sense of Safety and the Ambiguity of Madness in Wide Sargasso Sea. Frontiers in Art Research (2021) Vol. 3, Issue 5: 25-31. https://doi.org/10.25236/FAR.2021.030506.


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