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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys was written as a response to Jane Eyre, looking at the story from the viewpoint of Antoinette Mason (called Bertha in Jane Eyre), Rochester's first wife. Rhys herself was born in Dominica in the West Indies and left for England as a teenager. During her life in England as a writer, she often recollected the vibrancy and beauty of life in the West Indies and lamented the drabness of English life.
Jane Eyre is set entirely in England. This sense of its insularity is reinforced when Jane Eyre decides not to accompany St. John Rivers to India. All of the characters are white and English, except for Bertha Mason Rochester, the marginalized "other" who is locked upstairs in an attic. The weather is English, damp, cold, and rainy with only occasional moments of sunshine.
The Jamaica of Wide Sargasso Sea is tropical, warm and sunny, and a land of rich vegetation growing in great profusion, of vibrant colors and rich smells. The setting is multicultural, with white and black characters of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
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