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Table of Contents

Live in Gray

Jamaica is a place many consider to be a vacationing country. Many go to see the beautiful beaches, and the famous light blue Caribbean water. Many are intrigued by the culture and history of Jamaica, as well as the national language: Patois. For Rochester, the husband of the protagonist, Antoinette, this is apparently not the case. Rochester is an Englishman who arrives in Jamaica for reasons unknown, and immediately hates his situation and surroundings. He implies that he has been “forced” into marriage with Antoinette, and proves that he is ashamed of his Creole wife by locking her in the attic of his estate in England. Evidently, Rochester was not happy with his life before he met Antoinette, and blames her for it.

Rochester is the youngest of his family, and for that reason does not have any right to the inheritances of his father. He marries Antoinette because she has a substantial dowry, which makes him independent of his family. Without her, he is considered insignificant, and uses her for reasons of status instead of love. Rochester grows to dislike his marital situation even after he has acquired Antoinette’s dowry, and bought his own estate in England. He is happy with what he has obtained through the marriage, but anything that reminds him of his insecurities and what he had to do to prove himself, makes him feel discomfort. England seems to be the only thing Rochester has really grown to be comfortable with. Upon Rochester’s arrival to Jamaica, he begins to criticize his new environment: “Everything is too much, I felt as I rode wearily after her. Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near” (63). England is a place known for its overcast skies and rain, which blocks sunlight and makes colors less vibrant. The gray sky influences the earth beneath it and makes everything depressing and dull. This is what Rochester had grown accustomed to, and the feeling of life and color is different to him. His new setting in Jamaica is different, but Rochester seems prejudiced against anything that does not remind him of home, and feels threatened by it. Rochester even suggests that he sometimes envisions Antoinette as a pretty white British woman, and goes as far as to change her name

In Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, it is made evident that insecurities and biased mindsets bring unhappiness and consequently give different outlooks on life and one’s conditions. The idea of change is appealing to some and frightening to others. In the case of Rochester, he is unhappy with his upbringing and his previous decisions, and cannot understand the idea of happiness. He believes he is secure with his lifestyle, and is scared of losing what he thinks is important to him. Due to his own depression, he wants others to feel his pain and he succeeds in doing so with Antoinette. Not only does he make her as unhappy and insecure as he is, he drives her mentally insane by locking her in the attic of an estate that she indirectly paid for. Rochester becomes a corrupt man due to his morose upbringing and wishes to experience nothing that reminds him of what could be, or what he is not.

Bibliography

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea (norton Critical Editions). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.


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