Edited by Karli Wessale
Art by Anonymous
There is always the other side, always (Rhys 106)
Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) by Jean Rhys is a dark, compelling novel that charts the backstory of the infamous ‘madwoman in the attic’ of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), exploring themes of colonialism, gender, and power. Rhys wrote the novel in response to Brontë’s oblique representation of the Caribbean and Mr Rochester’s first wife, investigating processes of oppression through the character of Antoinette Mason, renamed Bertha by her husband as a means of controlling her identity. In Rhys’ version of the story, Antoinette’s marriage to an unnamed Englishman in the 1830s unravels dramatically following revelations of her mother’s alleged promiscuity and mental disintegration. She becomes Brontë’s ‘intemperate and unchaste’ creation who thwarts Jane’s marriage to Rochester, spiralling into madness and, eventually, arson and suicide (Brontë 270).