Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

"Of course, from the eighteenth century on, conduct books for ladies had proliferated, enjoining young girls to submissiveness, modesty, selflessness; reminding all women that they should be angelic." 

Federico, Annette. Gilbert & Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic after Thirty Years. Columbia: U of Missouri, 2009. Print. 

 This quotation from "The Madwomen in the Attic" helps us to read this specific passage because the ideals that it describes for girls to adhere to are seen explicitly within the context. It helps to exemplify the submissiveness and modesty that girls were supposed to exemplify. "Does it make me look intemperate and unchaste?" is a question that Antoinette asks Grace Poole in this passage. Antoinette worries that her red dress makes her look "intemperate" and "unchaste", two words that directly contrast the idea of modesty. Antoinette's concern proves the idea that women had to be modest in the eighteenth century, showing that she knows she is supposed to be modest and worrying that she isn't. Antoinette also questions her dress because a man told her that the dress was "unchaste" and "intemperate" showing the submissiveness that women were supposed to have. Due to the fact that "a man" had told her her dress was unchaste and intemperate caused her to question the way the dress looked in her explicitly proves the submissiveness women were supposed to have. She yielded her thoughts on the dress to accommodate the thought of a man, exemplifying the submissiveness to men and modesty determined by men that women in the eighteenth century were supposed to practice.  

"Antoinette’s choice to be different gives her power. Chesler claims madness symbolizes “either the acting out of the devalued female roles or the total or partial rejection of one’s sex-role stereotype”"

Crosby, Stephanie Bradberry. A New Perspective of Madness in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. HubPages, 2011. Web.

This quotation from "A  New Perspective of Madness in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea" helps us read this specific passage by providing us with an alternative interpertation of Antoinette's madness. According to the quote her madness gives her a specific type of power and the ability to question the female role she is supposed to personify. This can be directly seen when Antoinette acts out and attacks a man. The severity of this attack can be seen as the power of her madness manifesting itself as she acts out against the role women were supposed to have. Since men in the eighteenth century had the power to dictate everything in a women's life, Antoinette's attack represents her continuous fight against the social structures that were put on her by men throughout her entire life. When Antoinette goes "mad" at the end of the novel it is synonymous to her rejection of all female roles she was put in throughout her life. This madness can be seen as a type of power or revolution against these male given roles and this attack is a physical representation of her mental attack and rebellion against the male dominated social structures created for her throughout her whole life. 

"The Antoinette floating out of the window is the Antoinette represented in language, whereas the physical entity of Antoinette is denied existence completely to such an extent that her "brother" Richard does not (or refuses to) recognize her. Recognizing in her representation in patriarchy a cruel joke, she flees it, escaping the ghost that is her projection."

Fayad, Mona. "Unquiet Ghosts." Unquiet Ghosts: The Struggle for Representation in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. N.p.: Purdue Research Foundation, 1988. N. pag. Print.

This quotation from "Unquiet Ghosts" helps us to read this passage by providing a deeper meaning to this section of the novel. It gives us an insight into the changes the character of Antoinette goes through during the novel, converting her into a ghost of her previous self. The dress in the passage could aid to this image of the social structures and individuals around her changing her into someone different. "But I held the dress in my hand wondering if they had done that last and worst thing. If they had changed it when I wasn't looking." This quotation from the passage shows Antoinette wondering if the people around her had somehow altered her dress, changing it when she wasn't looking which mirrors the changes those around her caused, turning her into the ghost she has become. In the passage Antoinette also determines that if she had been wearing her red dress her brother would have recognized her. But the quotation from the essay helps us to understand why he really didn't recognize her, she has become a ghost of her former self and in this way she is totally unrecognizable to him. Antoinette escapes the ghost that was created and in doing so only the ghost is left, not her true self. She has been altered so much by the people around her that just as her dress, she is now unrecognizable.

  • No labels