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Themes of deception in jane eyre and wide sargasso sea

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In Part 2 of ‘ Wide Sargasso Sea’ pages 96-98. Antoinette visits Christophine hoping that she will give her a love potion to make Mr Rochester fall in love with her. Antoinette attempts to control Mr Rochester’s feelings, which is deceitful. She is also deceiving herself by thinking that their love can be rekindled by a magic ‘ Obeah’ potion. The extract I have chosen from ‘ Jane Eyre’ is in Chapter 19 where Mr Rochester dresses up as a gypsy fortune teller and reads Jane’s fortune based on her physical appearance.

Mr Rochester deceives Jane into thinking he is a gypsy woman, so that she will confess her feelings to him. Both extracts explore themes of enchantment and superstition. Jane Eyre was written in 1847. Women in this era were expected to be clean and pure, if they were married, they were expected to obey their husbands. Women had similar legal rights to those of children; they weren’t allowed to own land or have a savings account. When a woman got married everything she owned became property of her husband.

Middle class women were not meant to have jobs unless it was as a governess or teacher. Charlotte Bronte published her novel under a male pseudonym, so that she could get her work published and have people read it. In my chosen extract Jane is called to have her fortune read by the ‘ gypsy’ that is in fact Mr Rochester, the fact that Jane has been requested by Mr Rochester despite their differences in status would be shocking to a Victorian society. Wide Sargasso Sea was written in the 1960s, this was a period of great social change in Britain.

Women had become more equal to men, it was socially acceptable for women to have jobs outside of the home and people of all creeds and races were accepted in society. The people of Britain also began to look back on its colonial past. Throughout the novel I feel that Antoinette symbolises Jamaica and its people, and Mr Rochester represents Britain, exploiting Jamaica. He builds and alliance with Antoinette as Britain did with Jamaica and then he exploits her, dehumanises her and takes away her freewill as the slave drivers did to the people of Jamaica.

The fact that Antoinette is going to such lengths to make her husband have feelings of love for her shows that she is strongly dependant on him and needs him to retain stability in her life, ‘ Oh Christophine, I am so afraid. ‘ Antoinette makes herself stressed looks ill and tired because of the deterioration of her marriage; so much that Christophine notices, ‘ Your face like a dead woman and your eyes red like courcriant. ‘ Jane Eyre is a semi autobiographical novel but there are some features that signify a gothic fiction element to the novel.

In the extract Mr Rochester is pretending to be a mystic, this is something people in the modern day would be sceptical about but in the era that Jane Eyre was written in fortune tellers weren’t questioned, ‘ your fortune is yet doubtful. ‘ The setting of the scene, in a fire lit dim study room, also has gothic elements to it, ‘ the flame flickers in the eye. ‘ The majority of the extract is spoken by Mr Rochester; this gives the reader an insight into what his thoughts are, even though he is pretending to be someone else.

The rest of the novel is narrated by Jane which shows that she is an independent woman with her own thoughts and feelings, the fact that Mr Rochester dominates this extract in first person narrative shows the control he has over Jane’s thoughts and feelings. This is a contrast to Wide Sargasso Sea, where a lot of the novel is dominated by Mr Rochester’s narrative. This shows that Antoinette does not have the same dominance as Jane, she is affected by her status as a Creole woman who has signed her life away to a man that now owns all her possessions.

When Antoinette does narrate, she is weak and vulnerable, ‘ I have tried, I said, but he does not believe me. It is too late for that now’… ‘ Help me. ‘ In the extract from Jane Eyre, Jane is deceived when she believes the person she is allowing to read her appearance is a gifted fortune teller. Mr Rochester deceives Jane but he is good at reading Jane and knows her well enough to be able to tell her what her personality traits are ‘ as to the mouth, it delights at times in laughter; it is disposed to impart all that the brain conceives.

Mr Rochester is also deceiving himself by having the idea that they will be able to be together when he knows that he is already married. The fact that Mr Rochester has disguised himself in order to get information from Jane shows that he is concealing his true self, and his past marriage to Bertha Mason from Jane. In Wide Sargasso Sea, Mr Rochester reacts completely differently and tries to drive the character of Antoinette away from his life rather than pursue her in the way he does with Jane.

The characters of Jane and Antoinette are very different. Antoinette is impulsive and passionate, she marries a man she knows nothing about and trusts him whereas Jane is cautious and considering. Jane is ruled by her head and Antoinette is ruled by her heart. In Wide Sargasso Sea Antoinette is deceiving her husband by going behind his back to change the way he feels about her, using a potion, instead of his own free will ‘ That is for the betrayal, but who is the traitor? ‘ .

She also deceives Christophine by forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to. She bribes her with money, ‘ I took a purse from my pocket and threw it on the bed’ and emotional blackmail ‘ I will try again if you do what I ask. Oh Christophine, I am so afraid. ‘ Mr Rochester describes Jane’s personality traits by reading her appearance ‘ The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens,’ Rochester personifies Jane’s passions as ‘ heathens’ meaning that to Jane, feeling passionate is ungodly.

The majority of the extract is Mr Rochester’s dialogue, the only time Jane speaks is a few lines at the beginning and end of the extract, this shows Rochester’s dominance in the relationship. He has used the disguise of the gypsy to dominate Jane. Jane Eyre is written in an elevated lexis, a more sophisticated tone compared to Wide Sargasso Sea which uses dialect with some characters, ‘ He asked politely in Patois, was I well, was the master in good health? ‘ This highlights the racial divisions between the characters.

When Christophine says; ‘ Crying no good with him. Speak nice and make him understand. ‘ she elides the word ‘ is. ‘ To a British reader we can see that this is not standard English and makes the character of Christophine more mystical and exotic. When Christophine uses words like ‘ calabash’ and ‘ coucriant’ it adds to the setting of the scene and makes the people that live there, seem distant to us and we understand that Mr Rochester sees it as an alien land from his own.

When Antoinette describes the money she bribes Christophine with as ‘ ugly money’ it makes the reader see that she isn’t proud of what she did. When Christophine and Antoinette repeat the word ‘ foolishness’ it highlights the fact that what Antoinette is doing is desperate and compromising, Christophine then repeats the word ‘ beke’ which she describes is foolishness translated into patois; This shows the reader that what they have done is foolish in both cultures.

In conclusion the two extracts present the theme of deception in different ways. In Jane Eyre Mr Rochester blatantly deceives Jane by pretending he is someone else, he seems to have no shame when he reveals himself at the end of the extract, whereas in Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette is tormented by the act of deception she has done.

Jean Rhys clearly wants to portray the innocence of Antoinette in this extract, the fact that she feels that she has been pushed to the limit by her husband and her only choice is to use magic to win him back, it’s her last resort. In Jane Eyre the extract shows that Rochester doesn’t care about whether Jane thinks he has deceived her or not, as a male in the society they live in, it is acceptable for him to deceive Jane, as she is only a woman.

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