Example English Literature Essay The Theme of Isolation in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

Example English Literature Essay The Theme of Isolation in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea
Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers presentthe theme of isolation to construct the characters of Rochester, Jane andAntoinette in "Jane Eyre" and "Wide Sargasso Sea".
The theme of isolation is utilisedin English literature to shape the principal characters and provide aparticular vision on some crucial aspects of their identities. The aim of thisessay is to compare and contrast the ways, in which Charlotte Bronte and JeanRhys interpret the theme of isolation to construct such characters as Rochesterand Jane from the novel Jane Eyre and Antoinette from Wide SargassoSea. In these literary works the ideas of isolation are presented as adirect result of characters' loneliness that they have experienced since earlychildhood, thus the writers apply both to social and inner isolation. Thereality, in which these people live, is so harsh that they isolate themselvesfrom the rest of the world. Such alienation is a complex psychological disorderthat influences the formation of characters' identities. Isolation results in theexpulsion of a person from all social affairs and interactions, preventinghim/her to become a full member of society. Although Jean Rhys utilises the similaridea of isolation as Bronte's narration, she provides her own interpretation ofthis issue. Contrary to Bronte, the writer considers that madness of a woman isnot innate, but rather is a consequence of the injured self that is formed in aperson because of isolation and oppression. In this regard, isolation isperceived by characters as a certain rescue that seems to save them for a timebeing, but, in fact, it gradually destroys these protagonists. The fact is thatthe identity of a person is created through certain social and culturalinteractions with people, but isolation deprives him/her of acquiring the completenessof identity.

Jane Eyre and Antoinette Cosway,the principal female characters of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea,are portrayed as entirely isolated personalities who, despite the differentbackground and different living conditions, experience similar loneliness anddespair. Jane is a little orphan who is treated cruelly by her aunt and who isisolated from the rest of the household. When Jane is sent into LowoodInstitution, her isolation is aggravated; she is transformed into a reserved andserious woman with low self-esteem and lack of hopes. Similar to Jane,Antoinette's isolation starts at home and continues in the nunnery, influencingher identity. She spends almost all time in the room and close people regardher as mad, although she acts in a rather normal way. But, contrary to Jane, suchprolonged isolation results in more complex psychological destruction andfurther madness of Antoinette. As she claims at the beginning of thenarration, no one came near us. I got used to a solitary life (Rhys 18). Noone notices her and her family; instead people betray her trust and hopes. Antoinette'sisolation in childhood shapes her personality, negatively influencing her adultlife and relations with people. This vulnerable and emotionally destroyed womanlives in her own created world, and when Rochester, a person whom she loves,alienates from her, she can no longer endure this isolation. Antoinette seekslove and attention, but her own husband fails to understand her.

Rhys reveals that Rochester'sisolation can't be explained by his severity; instead he is portrayed as adestroyed personality who is forced to marry a person chosen by his family andwho has to live in a place alien to him. Antoinette regards Rochester'salienation as his inability to accept something that is different from hiswell-ordered life and habits. As a result of Rochester's alienation, hisattitude to Antoinette is sometimes negative, and gradually, she is transformedinto a mad female, like her own mother, but Rhys opposes to the view thatAntoinette inherits this madness from her mother. Instead, throughout thenarration she stresses on the fact that isolation inevitably brings a woman tothis psychological disorder. Antoinette's mind is split and she flees into thepast, isolating herself not only from the outside world, but also from herpresent life. Such isolation appears to be really dangerous for such asensitive woman, and, as Coral Howells puts it, Antoinette's moment ofauthenticity is also the moment of her destruction (121). In pursuit ofescaping this isolation, Antoinette commits a suicide.

Thus, Antoinette fails to eliminatethe negative emotions and feelings that are evoked by her loneliness andisolation. Although Jane Eyre also experiences anger and scorn towards herrelatives, she manages to destroy these emotions. Unlike Antoinette, this youngwoman who feels isolation since childhood meets a person who experiences thesame loneliness, and falls in love with him. This powerful feeling saves herfrom despair and finally destroys her isolation, she no longer wants toalienate from people, and especially from Rochester. The relations between Janeand Rochester differ from the relations between Rochester and Antoinette; inthe case of Bronte's narration both characters destroy their isolation and findnecessary strength in each other, they are identical in many ways and areunable to live apart. As Jane claims, I am mot talking to you now through themedium of custom, conventionalities or even of mortal flesh; - it is my spiritthat addresses your spirit equal, - as we are! (Bronte 238). Rochester'swives have really traumatic past that is aggravated by their isolation, butthey respond differently to it. Although Jane loses her parents and isconstantly ignored by society, her isolation helps her to develop some skillsthat provide her with necessary strength and allow her to overcome negativefeelings. She becomes a mature young woman who possesses own viewpoints and whois able to evoke powerful feelings in another person. Jane expresses her dreamsand loneliness in her beautiful drawings that allow her to successfully copewith her isolation. When Jane learns about Rochester's wife, she decides toisolate herself from him, but finally she feels that he needs her and returnsto him. Being an orphan, Jane understands that she has nobody to rely on, andshe learns to rely only on herself. Contrary to Jane, Antoinette lives with hermother at the beginning, but she is alienated from her, because her mother isattached only to her brother, and when she loses him, she is destroyed.

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