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The Theme of Isolation in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea

Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers present the theme of isolation to construct the characters of Rochester, Jane and Antoinette in “Jane Eyre” and “Wide Sargasso Sea”. The theme of isolation is utilised in English literature to shape the principal characters and provide a particular vision on some crucial aspects of their identities. The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast the ways, in which Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys interpret the theme of isolation to construct such characters as Rochester and Jane from the novel Jane Eyre and Antoinette from Wide Sargasso Sea. In these literary works the ideas of isolation are presented as a direct result of characters’ loneliness that they have experienced since early childhood, thus the writers apply both to social and inner isolation. The reality, in which these people live, is so harsh that they isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Such alienation is a complex psychological disorder that influences the formation of characters’ identities. Isolation results in the expulsion of a person from all social affairs and interactions, preventing him/her to become a full member of society. Although Jean Rhys utilises the similar idea of isolation as Bronte’s narration, she provides her own interpretation of this issue. Contrary to Bronte, the writer considers that madness of a woman is not innate, but rather is a consequence of the injured self that is formed in a person because of isolation and oppression. In this regard, isolation is perceived by characters as a certain rescue that seems to save them for a time being, but, in fact, it gradually destroys these protagonists. The fact is that the identity of a person is created through certain social and cultural interactions with people, but isolation deprives him/her of acquiring the completeness of 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 different background and different living conditions, experience similar loneliness and despair. Jane is a little orphan who is treated cruelly by her aunt and who is isolated from the rest of the household. When Jane is sent into Lowood Institution, her isolation is aggravated; she is transformed into a reserved and serious woman with low self-esteem and lack of hopes. Similar to Jane, Antoinette’s isolation starts at home and continues in the nunnery, influencing her identity. She spends almost all time in the room and close people regard her as mad, although she acts in a rather normal way. But, contrary to Jane, such prolonged isolation results in more complex psychological destruction and further madness of Antoinette . As she claims at the beginning of the narration, no one came near us. I got used to a solitary life (Rhys 18). No one notices her and her family; instead people betray her trust and hopes. Antoinette’s isolation in childhood shapes her personality,

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