Causeway to the Cosways
Establishing Connection between Forms of Identity and Consequent Reconstruction of Destiny through Subversion of the Bildungsroman in Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea has usually been regarded as a postcolonial offset to its 19th century ‘Grand Narrative’ – Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Both the texts have been by and large examined by critics as texts employing the format of the Bildungsroman, also popularly known as the ‘coming-of-age’ novel. Rhys’ work, through the account of Antoinette Cosway’s life, subverts this typically linear, male-centric genre, to formulate what we may phrase as the Anti- or Reverse- Bildungsroman. In conjunction with the previous perspective, this paper shall explore how Wide Sargasso Sea overturns even the Reverse-Bildungsroman at the end of the novel to set up the groundwork for yet another sub-genre, the Kunstlerroman, or the novel that documents the formation of an artist, and the simultaneous subversion of the associated tenet of the ‘double’ in Victorian Sensation formula, when Antoinette paradoxically gains a form of identity, an autonomy over her own life, and appropriates active agency, much like an artist, through madness, and ultimately, death.
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