Imagery, metaphor and symbolism in Wide Sargasso Sea

The significance of symbolism

The patterns of imagery, metaphor and symbolism used in Wide Sargasso Sea are fundamental to the way in which the novel handles its subject matter. They are not easily separated out from other formal aspects of the writing. In this section there will be cross-references to other locations in the guide, especially, CharacterisationNarrative in Wide Sargasso Sea, Themes and significant ideas in Wide Sargasso Sea and  Structure of Wide Sargasso Sea.

You should also look out for discussions of particular points and passages in the Commentary and Investigate sections of  Wide Sargasso Sea synopses.

Jean Rhys developed a very economical prose style. But, in all her writings from the 1920s, she made extensive use of images and symbols to deepen and extend her stripped down style. She also wrote poetry, a genre in which the symbolic connotations of images is fundamental.

In ‘writing back' against Jane Eyre, she also made use of images from the earlier novel. In this way she challenges Brontë's work, its representation of Bertha Mason and its assumptions about the Caribbean at a symbolic level as well as on the surface of a realist novel.

The images and symbols in Wide Sargasso Sea also have a structural and thematic purpose.

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