Replacement and genealogy in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea
This chapter explores replacement as the dynamic between Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), with a view to conceptualising replacement as a function of genealogy. I argue that the systematic replacements of character and movements that Rhys places in her novel make Jane Eyre a hypertext for the modern reader who rereads Brontë’s text. Jane Eyre is then read as a replacement for Antoinette/Bertha, and the characters of Antoinette/Bertha and Rochester appear in both novels as their own dark doubles. The central ‘replacement’ in Jane Eyre is Rochester replacing Antoinette as wife; the replacement in Wide Sargasso Sea is the replacement of Jane Eyre with Antoinette as protagonist. Accordingly, this exercise helps us question the hierarchies in the canon.
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