Wide Sargasso Sea was written in 1966 novel by Dominica born renowned writer Jean Rhys. This post-colonial parallel novel has put the author in the limelight being her most successful novel. This novel is a premonition of charlottes Bronte’s novel of Jane Eyre 1847 novel. This is a revelation of a relationship that casts a patriarchal society in which she is neither a black nor a white European with her European white boyfriend. This is a sour and unhappy marriage, which makes her appear demonic or devilish woman. The novel shortly tries to analyze the main themes of racial inequality and harshness of displacement and assimilation in the European white culture. “I went to parts of Coulibri that I had not seen, where there was no road, no path, and no track. And if the razor grass cut my legs and arms I would think, 'It's better than people.' Black ants or red ones, tall nests swarming with white ants, rain that soaked me to the skin – once I saw a snake. All better than people”. (Jean, 1962 p. 49).
The main themes in the novel wide Sargasso Sea (1966) is the perfect conclusion of writing of a life of writing in an attempt to exteriorize and exercise inner demons and personal struggles for identity and recognition. Because of the hybridity differences and complexities of the personalities involved together with cultural differences and the swinging moods of those involved. There is enfoldment of extreme passion and fears coupled by betrayal and hatred (Jean, 1962 p. 49). This is a revelation of the writers own complexities and the inner conflict that almost tore her heart apart “The wild beauty of the Coulibri estate provides the young Antoinette an escape from her troubles. But this estate isn't a home, a safe and secure place that Antoinette can identify with and make her own. The razor grass's mutilation of Antoinette's body marks a wound where her sense of self should be. Antoinette forgets her troubles to the point where she doesn't exist anymore, perhaps to the point where she isn't even human anymore, and that's not necessarily a good thing”. Jean, 1962)
The heroines in the novel are her own tribulation and her difficulties in integrating in the British society that gives her full account of racism.
This book gives an account of the main character’s account from a troubled childhood to her painful struggle to existence in a society where one is ranked in accordance with the color of her skin rather than their capabilities and integrity. The main protagonist Antoinette gives an account of the overriding themes in the novel and accounts for the fundamental themes such as race and identity, Gender discrimination and politics. The male protagonist is endowed with complex and interesting personality but its societal discrimination that makes the complex and painful issue of racial supremacy and colour more unbearable (Jean, 1962 p.69).
In contrast to the above novel M. Butterfly is an account of Critical issues that surrounds such complex issues such as gender, identity and binary oppositions of post-modernist ideas such as the supremacy between west and east ,male and female, masters and slavery and reality and fantasy and each sphere’s approach to post modernism and the current capitalism. The award winning play written the renowned Chinese American David Henry Hwang is an account of cross cultural discussions and speculations. It is an account of a relationship between former French diplomat and a Chinese opera. “Singer discourse generalizes Asian American identity as male, [and] women are rendered invisible" (Hwang, 1989). The French diplomat is a spy who reveals a secret too her of national importance and commits treason to the self-disguised opera singer under the cover of a gown.
The main theme is evident as Hwang tries to present a paradox Madame butterfly by traversism and transformations of the western male into a critical butterfly.
This is an account of the dynamics of ambivalence of culture and politics that describe western cultural politics. This tries to give an account of Eurocentric ideology and misconception. M. butterfly is a designated political play “masculine, big gun, big industry and big money place” (Hwang, 1989). He likened the presence and deception of M Butterfly as a constructivism likened to the likes of imperialism, sexism, and racism. As contrast perceived this, is not an anti-American play or the supremacy between west and east but are an account towards mental liberation and the confederation towards liberation and life sacrifice for a vagabond Yankee.The theory of post colonialism is of essence in both books. M. Butterfly maps out a convincing is a convincing postmodern colonial approach to the preceding title the empire writes back. To cover the culture affected by the imperial process of the effects of colonization (Hwang, 1989). The use of the term oriental instead of Asian or Chinese is a postmodern approach top colonialism and imperialism that is catalyzed by the current economic approach to modern and crude capitalism.
This is event when Galliard and his wife Helga cannot get rid of the mentality of colonial fantasy. This prompted the reaction by Hwang that they of the inferior east require a butterfly. “I am your Butterfly it was always me. Tell me you adored me.” (Hwang, 1948).The postmodern colonialists thought are never over even after centuries of liberation. The French ambassador to china insists that he lived in china but not with the Chinese. This is a crude blow to Renee who feels that she as Madame Butterfly is violated (Hwang, 1989). The westerners the imperialists’ thought is never over. It has never occurred to them that they lost the battle to the liberal world and their battle to retain supremacy is never over and it is endlessly prolonged. This is why they continue to sing and dance to the song and tune of Madame Butterfly without consideration for the future.
The consequences of the post colonialist’s perception is bitterly felt by the orient in this case the east and not the west. This prompts the Cho Cho San in the opera song to sacrifice herself for the arrogant Yankee. The concept self-sacrifice is usually common among the orients and that is why Renee decides to sacrifice herself for the sake of revenge. She transforms herself into a butterfly woman and later committing suicide to justify her claim that the orients believe of honorable death than a betrayal.
The overriding post-colonial concept and situation is responsible for the differences between the economic productions of the third world this is justified by their mention of the concept of the oriental cry in the song lining that describes the plight of women in the third world.Wide sea Sargasso is a postmodern approach towards female liberation and oppression. This is a liberation approach to the slavery and racial struggles for the liberation of the natives. It gives an account of the main protagonist Antoinette and Rochester. The concept of postcolonial conflicts between blacks and whites and the formers struggles to liberate itself from the conflicts caused by the later. The most notable approach to post modernism approach to race and colonialism. This is a modern approach to imperialism and oppression. Sexual liberation of the female species in reference to race and gender for blacks is a major issue of tackling by the author through the main protagonists. This is a postmodern approach towards the search for identity and racial liberation and freedom.
In conclusion, the two authors have strived to achieve the concept of identity through a postmodern approach in a post-colonial time. This is a true identity for both the main protagonist in the two novels. The authors have explored the deep inner parts of the individuals and their inner personalities as they strived to strike balance between race and identity. Both feel left out in a system where colour and race is the version or approach to life. This is a well thought out reflection of the author’s experiences in a different to their differences without necessarily disrupting the system or the order of the day.
Rhys, Jean, and Charlotte Brontë. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Norton, 1962.
Rhys, Jean. Jean Rhys, the Complete Novels. New York: Norton, 1985.
Hwang, David H. M. Butterfly. New York, N.Y: New American Library, 1989.
Cronenberg, David, Jeremy Irons, John Lone, Barbara Sukowa, and Ian Richardson. M. Butterfly. Burbank, Calif: Warner Home Video, 1994.