Antoinette is in the beginning of the book a young girl and at the end she is not young and not old. Nearly her whole live Antoinette is in Jamaica; this is also the country in which she is born. She loves it; the nature in Jamaica is beautiful. Antoinette must be beautiful, because I heard other people say pretty often that she is very pretty. Quotation: Aunt Cora says: “she is pretty like pretty self, just like her mother” (page 33) It is very remarkable that Mr. Rochester has contradictory thoughts about her exterior. In the beginning of their honeymoon, he regrets the marriage and so he doesn’t like her look. Quotation: “She wore a tricone hat which became her. At least it shadowed her eyes which are too large and can be disconcerting.” (page 56) Later, when he has drunk the love-drink he is happy (for a short time) and then he describes Antoinette as beautiful. Quotation: “I never realized how beautiful she was.” (page 115) Antoinette is a Creole girl; a white person who is living born in one of the colonies. This makes her too wild and uncivilized to be a ‘real’ European and too white to be integrated in the society of the Negro’s. Quotation: Edward says: “Creole of pure English blood she may be, but not English or European either.” This Creole’s are hated by the black people, because the sorrow they have done to them in the slavery. The English people don’t really respect them. They think they are uncivilized. This grows up without a mother to care about her, without a loving person to look after her. Quotation: ”She run wild and nobody care.” Also later she does not get the love of her husband she needs. Therefore her hole live she is searching for the love she will never find. In her childhood there is obviously something missing, this may be one of the reasons she mentally never really grows up: she is like a child during her whole life. She hasn’t got an own desire, she is never certain what to do. Quotation: Edward says about her: She is uncertain about facts- any fact. She never takes own initiative, because she cannot do anything herself; her whole live she is lived; she doesn’t really live herself: Her marriage is arranged by other people. When she discovers that her husband don’t love her she need Christophine to (try to) rescue her marriage. When it doesn’t work our Edward decides that they are going to England. Antoinette is always afraid of everything, even of happiness, when she is young ánd when she is older, and makes remarks about that like children do. Quotations
1 Telling about her youth she says one time: “I wished I had a big Cuban dog to lie by my bed and protect me.” (page 31) 2 She says to a nun: “I am so afraid” (“afraid of what”) “I don’t know, afraid of everything.” (page 62) 3 Later she says once to Edward: “I am not used to happiness, it makes me afraid.” (page 77) Antoinette is in the beginning of the story unhappy. When she marries Mr. Rochester she is pretty happy, because she loves him and she has the idea that he protects him. This happiness doesn’t take long, because soon she discovers that Mr. Rochester doesn’t love her. After Mr. Rochester makes love to Amélie, she really hates him and she goes out of mind. At the end of the story she is an incurable lunatic, which need to be locked up to prevent she is doing harm to herself and other people. As I just described, the personality of Antoinette develops during the book. Reading the book you discover more and more about her. These two elements make Antoinette a round character. Antoinette is one of the I-persons of the book. You see a part of the book though her eyes. She is really a watcher: She always looks around and describes very exactly what she sees. Edward Rochester: Edward is during the story a man, probably not old and not young. Mr. Rochester is English. He loves England. During the story he is in Jamaica. This man prefers England to Jamaica. He feels like a stranger there. Quotation: “I feel much like a stranger here. I feel that this place is my enemy.” (107) This man really loves money: he married to Antoinette just because of the money. When you marry to someone who you don’t even know well just because of the money, you must really love it. Mr. Rochester is a really suspicious person; he often doesn’t trust the situation and he hasn’t got much faith in people. Quotation: “People say they are harmless. I wouldn’t like to believe them.” (page 73) Mr. Rochester is, like Antoinette, a round character and he is also is one of the I persons of the book. Secondary Characters: All the secondary characters are flat characters. Anette Corsway: She is a woman who seems not to care about Antoinette. Quotation: ‘But she pushed me away, not roughly but calmly, coldly, without a word, as if she had decided once and for all that I was useless to her.” (page 44) She is a very beautiful Creole. When her house is set fire and her son dies, because of that she goes mad. Pierre Corsway: Pierre is Antoinette’s ‘lunatic’ brother. Quotations: 1 “Pierre who staggered when he walked and couldn’t speak distinctly.” (page 16) 2 “He still had a crib and he slept more and more, nearly all the time. He was so thin that I could lift him easily.” (page 31) Daniël Corsway: Daniël Corsway is the sun of the father death of Antoinette. The father of Antoinette had an affair with a black girl. The father of Antoinette never recognised his son as his son; he just sends some money now and then. Daniël hates his father for this and therefore he wants to revenge him on the members of his family. Aunt Cora: When Antoinette’s house is burned down she stays at her for a while. Aunt Cora is, besides Christophine who really seems to love her. Mr. Mason: Mr. Mason is the man the mother of Antoinette marries to in her second marriage. He is pretty old: people say that he is too old for Antoinette’s mother. He is the stepfather of Antoinette and he tries very hard to be like a real father to he, but Antoinette not seems to want him to be that to her. Quotation: “I would never like him very much. I still called him Mr. Mason in my head.” (page 129) Christophine: Christophine is a Martinique girl. She was the second wife of Antoinette's father. (the dead Mr. Corsway). Antoinette’s mother doesn’t take care about Antoinette, so Christophine looks after Antoinette. She is one of the little servants, which stay with the family Corsway after the Emancipation Act. This person is not very young and not very old. She is sort of a mystery; I, as a reader don’t know a lot about her. Christophine is a black-magician. She has a strong personality. Amélie: She is a servant at Brainbois Estate. Amélie is a girl of mixed blood. She often talks to Mr. Rochester and says that she is sorry for him. Mr Rochester thinks Amélie is very pretty. When Mr. Rochester finds out that there is put something in his whine and he thinks he is poisoned he makes love to Amélie. So Amélie is the girl with which Edward betrays Antoinette. Tia: A black girl with who Antoinette plays sometimes in her youth
Servants: Goffrey, Myra, Babtiste, Caro I INTERPRETATION Central Theme and Title There are two problems discussed in this book. The first problem is the marriage between two complete different people, with complete different backgrounds and complete different idea’s. This contrast between the two persons of this book makes the marriage between Edward and Antoinette very difficult. Such a marriage will only succeed when both sides really want it to work out and when the both love their partners very much. Mr. Rochester doesn’t love Antoinette. Quotation: Edward thinks ‘Or I would touch her face gently and touch tears. Tears- nothing! Words- less than nothing. As for the happiness I gave her, that was worse than nothing. I did not love her. I was thirsty for her, but it was not love. I felt very little tenderness for her, but that is not love. I felt very little tenderness for her, she was a stranger to me, a stranger who did not think or feel as I did.” (page 78) The marriage is not a thing that they decided together, because they really wanted it. Mr. Rochester marries to Antoinette because of her money, Antoinette because there was someone else and because Richard Mason she barely needs love. These are enough reason why this marriage never will succeed. The second problem, and the most important, is the tragic story of a young girl who can’t prevent her fate. Antoinette, this girl is just formed by the miserable situations she is in. She belongs to a community of Creoles: blank people who are born in the Colonies. The white people don’t respect them: they are wild and uncivilised and the black people hate them because of the sorrow they have done to them before the Emancipation Act. Quotation to underline this: Tia, a black girl says once to Antoinette: That`s not what I hear. I hear you all poor like beggar. You ate fresh fish- no money for fresh fish. Plenty white people in Jamaica. Real white people, they got money. You nothing but white nigger now and black nigger better that white nigger. (page 21) She has also a lunatic mother who doesn’t care about her. Her husband also doesn’t love her. Quotation: Christophine says: “She run wild, she grow up worthless. And nobody care.” I think Christophine is perfectly right. She was (with her care and her love-drink) Christophine’s last hope. She also couldn’t help her and prevent that Antoinette gets as insane and miserable as her mother did. The title of the book is Wide Sargasso Sea. The Sargasso Sea is a sea between the West Indian and the Caribbean Islands that is full of floating Sargassum (seaweed). Earlier, people thought that ship would get stuck in this Sargassum. (source: Encyclopedie voor zelfstudie) The idea is that Antoinette represents such a ship, and the Sargassum represents the problems. Antoinette (the ship) gets provoking slowly more and more into trouble (into the Sargassum); sometimes it goes a little bit better (she can sail a little bit further), but she never gets out of the problems (the ship can’t conquer the Sargassum), because the problems are too huge (the sea is far too wide and there is far too much Sargassum) . Eventually she will get so stuck that she will go down under just like the ship in the Sargassum. When you read the title you would say it has nothing to do with the book. When you look at the historical meaning of this sea and link this to the book, you understand the deeper meaning of this title. I think the title is very well chosen, because it indirectly represents exactly what the book is about and according to me there is no better thing a tittle can ‘do’. Characters: In this book it up to the reader whether Antoinette or Edward is the culprit of the bad ending of the book: the failure of the marriage between them and so the failure of Antoinette’s life. Though the entirely different perspectives you have a pretty good image of both Edward and Antoinette and both their motives seem reasonable. The reader has a dilemma. I think the writer has more sympathy for Antoinette because she lets Christophine condemn Edward. Quotation: “Everybody know that you marry her because if her money and you take it all. And then you want to break her up, because you jealous of her. She is more better than you, she have better blood in her and she don’t care for money- it’s nothing for her. Oh I see that first time I look at you. You young but already hard. You fool girl. You make her think that you can’t see the sun for looking at her. And the, you make love to her till she drunk with it, no rum could make her drunk like that, till she can’t do without it. It’s she can’t see the sun any more. Only you she see. But all you want is to break her up.” (page 125/126) I can be wrong, but I think that she shows her own opinion in this way. I came to this idea because Christophine comes just like Jean Rhys from Dominica. This makes the writer not objective. That’s not so strange because she lived herself by that time in Dominica (pretty near to Jamaica; in that time a country with a comparable political and social situation) and saw the Creole girls, daughters of slave owners, be unhappy with her own eyes. (see: literary context) Place The place is in connection with both of the problems discussed in the book (the themes). To begin is the difference between the homeland of Antoinette and Edward the most important differences between them and so one of the causes of the failure of their marriages. Antoinette is born in Jamaica. She loves the county; it is her home. Quotation: “I was alone in the most beautiful place in the world, it is not possible that there can be anywhere else so beautiful as Coulibri.” Edward is born in England. He loves this place and sees it as his home. Quotation: “It’s cool today; cool calm and cloudy as an English summer. But a lovely place in any weather, however far I travel I’ll never see a lovelier.” There is a dialog between Antoinette and Edward in which they talk about this difference. Quotation: “ ‘Is it true?’ she said, ‘that England is like a dream? Because one of my friends who married an Englishman wrote and told me so. She said that this place London is like a cold dark dream sometimes. I want to weak up.” ‘Well,’ I answered, ‘that is precisely how your beautiful island seems to me, quite unreal and like a dream.’ ‘but how can rivers and mountains and the sea be unreal.’ ‘More easily’, she said, ’much more easily. Yes a big city must be like a dream.’ ” (page 67) When Mr. Rochester is in Jamaica he doesn’t feel like home; he seems not to be happy in Jamaica. Especially not when he has read the letter about the madness of Antoinette. Quotation: “ Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near. And the woman is like a stranger.” I think that the fact he doesn’t feel at home; has the idea that something is wrong about the place he is, is one of the reasons why he is more anxious to believe in the madness of Antoinette. So this is one of the reasons of the failure of Antoinette’s life. When Mr. Rochester has made love to Amélie Antoinette is hysterical, she has lost everything, even her love for ‘her’ country. Quotation: “Do you know what you have done to me? It’s not the girl, not the girl. But I loved the this place and you have made it into a place I hate. I used to think that if everything else went out of my life I would still have this, and now you have spoilt it. It’s just somewhere I have been unhappy, and all the things are nothing to what has happened here. I hate it now like I hate you.” After Antoinette acting hysterical, Mr. Rochester is absolutely sure of he being mad and he takes her to England; this is the place she doesn’t belong, like Mr. Rochester doesn’t belong in Jamaica. In England, Mr. Rochester locks her up like an incurable lunatic; she is lost.
The things told about the political situation (which is the cause of this events) are interesting to me than al those descriptions. They are told from the experience of the little girl Antoinette, so they are not very sophisticated, but though it is not very difficult to gather from the things which are mentioned how the situation was and if the writer would let her tell more about that this wouldn’t fit in this experience of a little girl (a child doesn’t have an opinion about ‘aduld stuff’ like politic).