The Thematic Significance Of The Floral Images In

Wide Sargasso Sea.

Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known–a house with a garden where “the paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched.”(p.16).

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Floral Images are central to the theme in the novel Wide Sargasso Sea. They are present throughout the entire novel and also have an effect on the atmosphere. There are several examples.

The first and most prominent floral image in the novel is of the garden at Coulibri, “But it had gone wild. The paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell.” (p.16). Antoinette describes the garden as being full of life but now everything is dead, this symbolizes something that is beautiful but gone back or is not going to last long. The garden is also compared to the garden of Eden, “Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible-the tree of life grew there”(p.16). When she refers to the “tree of life growing there” it is as though she is looking back and relating to the former slave owners. She also says “The scent was very sweet and strong. I never went near it.”(p.16). This excerpt is symbolizing her constant fear to ever be close to giving love.

Another floral image is that of pink roses, “There where two pink rosestouched it the petals dropped.”(p.72), “have all beautiful things sad destinies.”(p.72). These quotes are referring that Antoinette is beautiful like her mother but look at their destinies.

Another image is that of a falling flower, “One morning a small flower felllooked like snow.”(p.53). In other words the flower was too fragile to resist the wind like Antoinette who is too fragile to receive forces against her or fight challenges of her environment.

The many floral images in this novel reflect changes in mood, signify hope and security and are used to reflect state of mind. They also indicate neglect and violence in her marriage and many other aspects of the novel.

An Essay On
The Thematic Significance of the Floral Images in Wide Sargasso Sea.


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