Define Realism and its characteristics as a literary movement
Realism refers to the recreation of life in the literature that took place during the historic eighteenth and nineteenth-century periods. This faithful representation of reality aided in developing the English novel and other literary conventions.
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Emphasizing everyday life
Realist writers believe that books should center on everyday experiences that depict workers as real people. These writers inject life into the scenes, objects, and characters, to allow readers experience the reality of the texts. In the text, “Madame Bovary,” Gustave Flaubert depicts the daily tasks of the actors and their social obligations (Flaubert 23). In the text, the main character worries about shopping and household expenses. On the other hand, “Wide Sargasso Sea” explores the daily life of Bertha throughout her marriage, promiscuous behavior, and death (Rhys 8).
Easy to understand texts
Another characteristic of realism is the belief that texts should be simple for the common person to understand. This translates to making the book available not only to the educated aristocrats but to all. As I read the texts, the regular language used in the two texts is evidence that the writers sought to make their texts easy to understand for both the middle-class Americans and the aristocrats.
This characteristic makes a single character the center of interest in a text. The two texts under study cover the development of persons who are struggling with social barriers. In Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (41) centers around the life of Emma, whose marriage fails to meet her idealized expectations and later embarks on an adulterous affair. On the other hand, Wide Sargasso Sea focuses on the life of Bertha Mason, a madwoman who is locked in an attic (Rhys 26). The two characters Bertha and Emma are at the center of the two texts.
The struggle to overcome societal barriers
Another aspect of realism is the autonomy of characters who demand to be accorded their inalienable rights. In both Wide Sargasso Sea and Madame Bovary, the authors represent gender and sexuality through their texts. In Wide Sargasso Sea, the author tries to fortify the madwoman in Jane Eyre by giving her a voice, despite her silent nature as a character (Rhys 26). On the other hand, Madame Bovary constructs class, sexuality, and social morality (Flaubert 43). Together, these two texts contest the paradigms of gender and sexuality by explaining how society hears and silences the voices of women.
Define the Gothic and examine its influence on Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea
Gothic refers to a literal genre-mixing fiction, horror, and romanticism. In Wide Sargasso Sea, the atmosphere of mystery and suspense brings the gothic nature of the text to life. In the text, the Victorian empire gothic focuses on the romance between Jane, a governess, and Edward Rochester, an aristocrat (Rhys 29). Bertha Rochester, the first wife of the aristocrat is the central gothic element for her role as a madwoman. Jean Rhys gives Bertha a life and an identity that enables her to narrate her upbringing in West Indies (Rhys 29). It also goes on to tell the reader the story about her marriage to young Rochester that leads to her incarceration in the attic.
The gothic in this story represents a “backward birth,” given that the text itself is a backward creation. For Antoinette, England represents the gothic element as Jena Rhys assaults her counter-invasion with her backward rebirth (Rhys 29). The text begins from Jane Eyre but is centered on events taking place before the novel is written. Jean Rhys’ uses gothic to confuse a reader who is interested in finding the preceding text intentionally. The author also enacts a gothic reversal through the display of regression from sanity to madness and chaos. She moves from freedom to a locked room in an English manor house. The author tries to challenge the institutional stereotypes, which are present in many cultures.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Rockville, Maryland: Arc Manor LLC, 2008. Print.
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea: A Novel. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992. Print.