Exploring Dialogism in the Mistress-Slave Relationship: A Study of Female Slave Characters in Jean Rhys' “Wide Sargasso Sea”


  • Amara Faheem Independent Researcher – Lahore, Pakistan
  • Khalid Mehmood English Teacher, Education Department, Kot Mithan – Punjab, Pakistan


Dialogism Theory, Maternal Role, Female Slave, Slavery, Power Dynamics


Slavery, an enduring institution devoid of remuneration, has played a foundational role in numerous societies. Literary works explore the changing roles and portrayals of slaves in Great Britain's post-emancipation era in 1833. Within Jean Rhys' seminal work, "Wide Sargasso Sea," a captivating narrative emerges, spotlighting a female slave character whose mistress forms a profound, almost maternal, attachment. This study embarks on an exploration of this intricate mistress-slave dynamic, particularly focusing on the slave's portrayal in a maternal capacity. It delves into the question of whether a slave could embody the utmost empathy towards the extended familial network of her mistress. Framing this investigation is Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin's theory of dialogism, asserting that interaction is shaped by discourse and that each dialogue carries profound significance. The poignant instance of the slave providing solace as Antoinette's mother falters exemplifies this theory. The findings substantiate the hypothesis that the language employed in reciprocal communication profoundly impacts the tenor of the relationship. This study thus sheds light on the profound interplay between language, empathy, and power dynamics within the mistress-slave relationship.