Abridged Introduction: Wide Sargasso Sea, written by Jean Rhys, follows a Creole girl in Jamaica from her love absent childhood to her fateful marriage. The novel discusses imperialism, mental instability, and class status.
The contrast between what is said versus what is true is the driving force of the novel. 1. England saying they will compensate the Creoles after the Emancipation Act, yet they did not. In the very first section of the novel, the Europeans in Jamaica feel the affects of England not compensating the former plantation owners for freeing slaves and therefore closing their plantations and source of income. Antoinette’s (the protagonist) neighbor kills his dog and commits suicide because of the stress and depression for not getting compensated.
2. Rochester marrying Antoinette as a wife, but it is really for the money, the power over her, and to prove to his father and older brother he was worth something. Rochester controls Antoinette’s money and possessions, forces a sexual relationship between them but cheats on Antoinette, 3. Antoinette’s insanity is said to have be caused by genetics with her mother’s mental instability, but it was really the her childhood without love, her isolation from relationships with other children, and the constant lack of control over her own life. 4. It is said that Antoinette is entirely dependent on Rochester but Rochester is in fact dependent on Antoinette as well.
Rochester never was valued at home because he was not the oldest son, so he did not inherit property or money from his family, so his father had to marry him off. He needed to find a wealthy woman from outside the social circle in London for Rochester to take her finances and inheritance so he has value to his name. The format of the novel shows this because the second of the three sections is narrated by Rochester.
We see Antoinette as the narrator during her childhood, young adulthood, and final days of her life, but Rochester narrates the section where he establishes control over Antoinette.