Wide Sargasso Sea Contents
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context of Wide Sargasso Sea
- Part one: Antoinette's first narrative
- Part two: Rochester's narrative
- Part two: Antoinette's narrative
- Part two: Rochester's narrative resumes
- Part three: Grace Poole's narrative
- Part three: Antoinette's narrative
An unconventional structure
Three part structure
Wide Sargasso Sea has an unconventional structure. Instead of the usual chapter divisions, it is arranged into three parts of unequal length. These parts are divided into sections, sometimes indicated by an asterix.
The three parts follow a chronological order from Antoinette's childhood to her imprisonment at Thornfield Hall. This arrangement is to some extent dictated by the ‘master-narrative' of Jane Eyre. However, within this broad chronological arrangement Jean Rhys' novel evades the demands of the ‘master narrative' by:
- Breaking up the chronological order by using flashbacks, premonitions of the future and other ways of restructuring time and its significance
- Avoiding the closure imposed by Bronte's plot. The ambiguous ending of Wide Sargasso Sea deliberately leaves open the question of what happens to Antoinette.
In leaving her novel open in this way, Jean Rhys connects the formal structure of her novel to its overarching themes, opposition to racial and patriarchal domination.
Other ways of structuring the novel
Structure in Wide Sargasso Sea can be considered in different ways. Some of these have already been discussed in other sections. You will be guided to these in a reference in the following list:
- Structure shaped by narration is discussed at length in the Narrative in Wide Sargasso Sea section where Jean Rhys' use of narrative method is related to the novel's themes
- Structure: Theme and imagery covers the sets of binary oppositions. For more on this, see the sections on Themes and significant ideas in Wide Sargasso Sea; Characterisation; Imagery, metaphor and symbolism in Wide Sargasso Sea
- For structure determined by setting, see the section Structure of Wide Sargasso Sea > Space, place and landscape.
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