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Page 3.

" a Martinique girl "

Martinique - Credit: Andr Mouraux

Martinique was a French Catholic territory, and Jamaica a British Protestant one. The
British and French were at war between 1803 and 1814, and these tensions were echoed in
the relationships between their colonies.

Martinique, the neighbouring island to Rhys's Dominica, remains part of France today.

Page 3. " Still waiting for the compensation the English promised when the Emancipation
Act was passed. "
The Emancipation Act was passed in 1833, although the apprenticeship system, which
forced former slaves to work without pay, meant that slaves were not properly freed until
1838. As it is 1839 when Antoinette goes to the convent (the only date given in the novel),
this section is set very soon after the Act was passed. Rhys actually changes the dates of
Jane Eyre (set in the early years of the nineteenth-century) in order to set her novel at this
crucial time.

The British offered 19 per freed slave, much less than the market price of 35. The slave
owners lost all their free labour at the same time the price of sugar collapsed, driving many
of them into poverty. To read the Act,

Page 3. " Nelson's Rest "

Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, by Lemuel Francis Abbott

The French were a constant threat to British rule in the West Indian colonies. They
threatened to invade Jamaica in the late eighteenth century, and again in 1806. Naming his
estate after Admiral Nelson shows Mr Lutrell's patriotism. Following his victory and death
at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Nelson was the greatest British war hero of the time.

Page 4. " frangipani "

Pink frangipani - Credit:

A sweetly fragrant tree native to the tropical and subtropical Americas.

Flowers vary from white and yellow to pink.

Page 4. " Now we are marooned "

The word is Jamaican in origin, originally referring to the descendents of the slaves of the
Spanish who fled to the mountains during the English invasion of Jamaica

Page 4. " devil prince of this world "

Now is the judgement of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out

John 12:31

The prince is Lucifer, who was cast out of heaven.

Page 4. " Our garden was as large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible "

The garden, of course, is Eden, and the fact that it has gone wild is indicative of a post-
lapsarian existence (later on the page there is a 'snaky looking' orchid). This wildness is not
necessarily a moral negative: the garden has gone wild because the Cosways no longer have
a slave workforce to tend to their land.

Thomas Cole, 'The Garden of Eden' (1828)

As Rhys's biographer, Carole Angier, notes: colours are brighter, smells stronger; trees and
flowers and insects grow bigger. This superfecundity and sensuality of the Caribbean will
account for much of the disorientation that Rochester feels within the book. See Jean Rhys,
by Carole Angier.

Thomas Cole's 1828 painting of the Garden of Eden imagines it as a tropical paradise akin
to a Caribbean landscape.

Page 5. " I couldn't always understand her patois songs "

Technically, patois refers to any non-standard language, but is used particularly for
Caribbean dialects. Patois is an amalgamation of all the linguistic influences on the various
Caribbean islands: Christophine's patois, as she is from Martinique, will be more French
influenced than Jamaican patois.

Jamaican patois: French patois:

Page 6. " She was much blacker "

Christophine is from Martinique, a French colony. Due to their different overseas
territories, trade routes and allies, the French imported their slaves from a different part of
Africa to the English, hence Christophine's darker skin.

Page 8. " We boiled green bananas in an old iron pot and ate them with our fingers out of a
calabash "

Left to right: plantains, red bananas, bananitos, Cavendish bananas. - Credit:

Given that the bananas are green and are boiled before eating, they are probably plantains.
Boiled plantain is a staple dish in the Caribbean. Its plain flavour and starchiness mean that
it is used in a similar way to the potato in the UK.

As there is no formal botanical distinction between plantains and bananas, the names are
used variously in different places (as in the video: what he is cooking is, despite what he
says, called a plantain in the UK).

The calabash is a fruit that grows on the calabash tree, native to the West Indies. It has a
hard shell that, once the fruit is scooped out, is commonly used as household crockery.

Page 8. " We ate salt fish - no money for fresh fish "

white creoles would be expected to eat more expensive fresh fish, whilst the lower classes
would eat preserved salt fish. The eating of salt fish was so widespread that ackee and salt
fish is now the national dish of Jamaica.

Page 9. " muslin dress "

Muslin ball gowns, The World of Fashion January 1838

Muslin was an incredibly fashionable fabric in late eighteenth-century Europe, particularly

France. Jane Austen's characters often wear muslin gowns; Catherine Morland's first
conversation with Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey is about sprigged muslin.

Caribbean Creole fashion was heavily influenced by French fashion, although it lagged
somewhat behind. Muslin is a particularly breathable fabric, and relatively well suited to
the heat of the Caribbean.

The picture shows fashionable muslin ball gowns from 1838, roughly contemporaneous to
the time this section of the novel is set, though they are rather more ornate than the gown
Antoinette is likely to have worn.

Page 10. " They got jail house and chain gang. They got tread machine to mash up people's
feet. "
convicts in a chain gang, Dar es Salaam

As the new settlers enforced the law they, in effect, were the law. The tread machine was a
treadmill used for punishment. It was popular among law enforcers throughout the British
empire in the nineteenth-century. Prisoners would also often be chained together for hard

Treadwheel, Stafford Gaol c1869-1871

Page 10. " shamrock "

Purple leaved shamrock - Credit: Derek Ramsey
Shamrock, the three leafed clover, is the symbol of Ireland. This suggests that, like Rhys's
own family, and like many 'English' families in the Caribbean, Antoinette's family are of
Irish descent.
Page 12. " light as cotton on the something breeze, or is it air? I forget. "

"Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair" (Sheet Music). New York: Firth, Pond & Co
Probably Stephen Forster's 'I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair / Borne as a vapour
on the soft summer air.' Written in 1854, it didn't exist at the time Wide Sargasso Sea is set,
but this is only one of many temporal inconsistencies in the text.

I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair - a cover version by John McCormack

Page 12. " It's evidently useful to keep a Martinique obeah woman on the premises "

Obeah is a mixture of folk magic imported from Central & West Africa and Christian
religious beliefs taught to slaves by Europeans. Obeah men and women were believed to be
able to heal the sick and make love potions, as well as use their powers for more evil ends.
They held a lot of power within the black community.

Obeah magic was carried out either through curses or through herbs and poisons the
threat of poison hangs over much of Wide Sargasso Sea. Obeah practitioners were often
leaders of the black community, another reason why the white population feared and
persecuted them. For a nineteenth-century Western study of Obeah, read May Robinson
and M. J. Walhouse's 1893 essay 'Obeah Worship in East and West Indies'.

Page 13. " the pictures of the Holy Family and the prayer for a happy death. "

Obeah and Catholic beliefs were not mutually exclusive among the black populations of the
West Indies. They merged into one another freely. Many black people of the Caribbean,
including those from former British colonies, are Catholic: whilst British missionaries
preached in standard English, the French Catholics adopted the local patois and met with a
much more enthusiastic reception.

Page 13. " I was certain that hidden in the room (behind the old black press?) there was a
dead man's dried hand, white chicken feathers, a cock with its throat cut, dying slowly,
slowly. "

The sacrifice of a cock was common in obeah rituals, but the idea of a dead man's dried
hand is probably inspired by rumour and fear.

Page 14. " Richard, Mr Mason's son by his first marriage, was at school in Barbados. "

Richard Mason appears in Jane Eyre as Bertha Rochester's brother.

Barbados, non-volcanic and further east than all its neighbours, was the only Caribbean
Island to have stayed under British rule for its entire colonial history. In the eighteenth
century wealthy white creoles would have sent their children to England for their education,
but by 1844 there were 149 private schools with 2,745 pupils attending them in Barbados,
according to the Barbados Ministry of Education.

Page 16. " My stepfather talked about a plan to import labourers - coolies he called them -
from the East Indies "

In 1836 the British commenced a policy of importing labourers from India to do the work
of the former slaves, many of whom, as the book makes clear, no longer worked on the
plantations. These labourers undercut the wages of the former slaves and were perceived to
work harder. The black population was not happy about the consequent loss of potential
jobs, which is why it was unwise for Mr Mason to talk about the scheme in the hearing of
his servants.

Between 1836 and 1917, approximately half a million Indians were brought into the British
West Indies. Today, Indo-Caribbeans form the largest ethnic group in Trinidad & Tobago,
and the second largest in Jamaica. Nobel and Booker Prize winner V.S. Naipaul is a
Trinidadian of Indian descent.

Coolie means an unskilled Asian labourer, and is now considered a racial slur. For an
informed, if rather un-PC, account, see Edgar L. Erickson's 'The Introduction of East Indian
Coolies into the British West Indies' (1934).

Page 16. " Unhappy children do hurt flies "

King Lear IV, I, 36: 'As flies to wanton boys, we are to gods, They kill us for their sport.'

Page 17. " yellow roses "

The yellow roses are demonstrative, along with the English food, the muslin dresses and
the typically English painting, of the Masons' attempt, common among English people in
the Caribbean, to continue living as they had in England, despite the differences in climate
and landscape.

Page 19. " I foresee gifts of tamarinds in syrup tomorrow "

Tamarind tree with pods. - Credit: Bruno Navez

The tamarind, or Indian date, bears rod-shaped fruit in hard pods. When the fleshy pulp of
the fruit turns brown and the pod can easily be prised open, it is ready to eat.

To make tamarinds in syrup,

Page 20. " This place is going to burn like tinder and there is nothing we can do to stop it "


Typically, the great house of a Caribbean plantation would have been built largely of wood.

See Jill Fergus's article for Forbes Traveller magazine and the Jamaican National Trust
Great House pages.

According to Rhys's autobiography, her family's Gebeva estate house was burned down by
former slaves soon after emancipation, but some doubt has been cast on the authenticity of
this claim: see Peter Hulm 'The Locked Heart: The Creole Family Romances of Wide
Sargasso Sea' in Colonial Discourse/Postcolonial Theory.

Page 21. " After Mr Mason clipped his wings he grew very bad tempered "

John Everett Millais, Portrait of Isabella Heugh

Birds, their freedoms and restrictions, were a common metaphor through which writers
explored the position of women in the nineteenth-century novel.

Coco is reminiscent of the parrot from Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899). In a novel
about burgeoning female sexuality, the parrot meaningfully steals the opening scene:

A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and

'Allez vous en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!

As Lorri Dorrin says, bird imagery dominates this novel. So too in Jane Eyre. Jane is
constantly compared to British birds, such as the linnet and the skylark, as David Anderson

Page 22. " I heard someone say something about bad luck and remembered that it was very
unlucky to kill a parrot, or even see a parrot die. "

A Martinique Amazon, once endemic to Martinique, now extinct

In the beliefs that surround obeah, witches, vampires and ghosts were often believed to be
able to transform themselves into birds, including parrots. Parrot beaks were used in obeah

Janette Martin writes in 'Jablesses, Sourcriants, Loups-garous: Obeah as an alternative

epistemology in the writing of Jean Rhys and Jamaica Kincaid':

The parrot appears time and again in Obeah as a figure that is potentially powerful either
as an instrument in conjuring or as a part of transformation in the human animal exchange

Carole Angier writes that 'the parrot is associated in many myths, and perhaps in obeah,
with the soul'.

Page 24. " It's time for your arrowroot "

Arrowroot - Credit: Wibowo Djatmiko
Maranta arundinacea, or arrowroot, is native to the West Indies.

In the Victorian era, the boiled root (or a paste made from the powdered root and water)
was often served as an easily digestible food for children and the sick. This practice was
widespread, not only in the West Indies but also in Britain, as it was wrongly believed to be
very nutritional. Mrs Greenlow eats it for its nutritional properties in Anthony Trollope's
Can You Forgive Her? and the invalid Richard Swiveller receives a hamper of arrowroot
and other 'delicate restoratives' in Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop. In fact, it is almost
entirely carbohydrate, and has very little nutritional value at all. For more information, and
for Napoleon's claim that the British enthusiasm for arrowroot was merely a way of
propping up their colonial empire

Page 26. " they were waiting for me under the sandbox tree. "

Sandbox Tree
The sandbox tree, native to the West Indies, can grow up to 100 metres tall and is cultivated
for shade. The native Caribbean people, the Caribs, used to make poison for their arrows
from its sap (and used the arrowroot, mentioned on page 24, as an antidote).

Page 26. " he had a white skin "

The boy is an albino.

Page 27. " Your mother walk about with no shoes and stockings on her feet, she sans
culottes. "

A sans culottes

Literally, this means without knee breeches, and refers to Annette's lack of stockings (as a
nineteenth century 'English' woman, she would hardly have worn knee breeches), but in the
French Revolution the phrase 'sans culottes' referred to the working class radicals who wore
trousers rather than the knee breeches favoured by the upper classes. Sansculottism remains
a term for extreme egalitarian republican sympathies.
France had colonies in the Caribbean, and the Revolution had a massive impact on the area.
For information on this, read A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater
Caribbean (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), a collection of essays edited by
David Barry Gaspar and David Patrick Geggus.

Page 27. " She have eyes like zombie and you have eyes like zombie too "

the concept of the zombie is integral to Wide Sargasso Sea. In 'The Glittering Coronet of
the Isles', the book that Rochester finds at Granbois, a zombie is an integral part of belief in
obeah, and is 'a dead person who seems to be alive or a living person who is dead', a
statement which bears similarities to Antoinette's belief in there being two deaths, the real,
or spiritual, one, and the one 'everyone knows about': physical death. According to West
Indian Voodoo, a dead person can be revived by a sorcerer, who will then give this zombie
a new name. From that point on the zombie is enslaved to the sorcerer. When Rochester
starts referring to Antoinette as Bertha she says 'that's obeah too'.

Page 29. " convent "

Convent - Credit:
Mr Mason, as an Englishman, would likely have been Protestant. However, Antoinette's
mother is from French Martinique, and Catholicism is the national religion of France. Her
family had Jacobite sympathies (see p.95), another fact that suggests her
Catholicism. Although Jamaica was a British and therefore Protestant colony, there
were Roman Catholic convents.

The British 'Act of Toleration' of 1688 afforded 'liberty of conscience to all persons except
Papists', and Catholicism was essentially outlawed until 1792, when Catholics were granted
some freedom of worship. From 1798, Catholic missionaries were sent out to the British
West Indies. See Floyd McCoy's article on Catholicism in Jamaica.
It was relatively common for girls of Antoinette's class to be educated at a convent. Rhys
herself was. Indeed, apart from home schooling, it was one of the only forms of women's
education at the time, particularly in the more limited educational sphere of the Caribbean.

Page 29. " St Rose, St Barbara, St Agnes "

Claudio Coello, Santa Rosa de Lima

St Rose is either Saint Rose of Viterbo or Saint Rose of Lima, the first Catholic saint of the
Americas. Given the stories of beauty, riches and the love of rich young men, it is more
likely to be Rose of Lima, who was so beautiful that she disfigured herself.
Robert Campin, Saint Barbara in her Tower

St Barbara was a 3rd century saint, persecuted by her pagan Father.

St Agnes was born to a noble Christian Roman family. When she refused to marry Prefect
Sempronius's son he wanted her put to death. Under Roman law, a virgin could not be
executed, so Sempronius tried to have her raped. But her hair grew to cover her body and
those who tried to rape her were struck blind. Sempronius then ordered her burned to death,
but the pyre would not light and she was beheaded instead.
Francisco de Zurbarn, Santa Ins (Saint Agnes)
Page 29. " Here Theophilus is a rose from the garden of my spouse, in whom you did not
believe. "

Theophilus means 'Friend of God' in Greek.

Saints and nuns are married to Christ.

Page 30. " Also deportment "

Deportment refers both to acceptable behaviour and the fashionable and acceptable way to
hold one's body. It was taught to young ladies in Europe of suitable rank, both through
schooling and through conduct manuals.

In the nineteenth century, conduct manuals for young women, dictating acceptable
feminine behaviour, were popular and influential, and were detested by proto feminists
such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who lambasts the genre in her epic Aurora Leigh: I
read a score of books on womanhood / To prove, if women do not think at all, / They may
teach thinking (I, 427).

The Young Lady's Own Book, a typical nineteenth century conduct manual from 1832,
containing a chapter on deportment, is available on Google books.

For a history of deportment, tracing the changes in desirable deportment from medieval
times, see here.

The Hulton Archive at Getty Images contains interesting photos of deportment lessons in
the 1950s.

Page 30. " mine does not look like yours, whatever I do "
This, the comment Antoinette makes earlier about her hair growing back darker, and
Rochester's identification of her look as distinctly un-English, suggests that Antoinette may
have some black ancestry. This would not be uncommon for a white Creole family.

Page 30. " she spoke slowly and, unlike most Creole girls, was very even tempered "

The term Creole is used to describe anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, who was born
and raised in the Caribbean. Both hot climates and black ancestry were believed to make
one quick tempered.

Page 31. " her black curls which smelled of vetiver "

Vetiver is a fragrant tropical grass. The fragrance of the oil extracted from its root is
categorized as deep, sweet, woody, smoky, earthy, and balsam, and is often used in

Page 31. " offer up all the prayers, works and sufferings of this day "

Devotion - Credit
The line is from the prayer of morning offering.

In the Roman Catholic church, the Morning Offering is a prayer said upon waking in order
to consecrate the day to Jesus.

The morning offering was popularised in the Catholic Church by Fr. Francois Xavier
Gaulrelet and his movement, the Apostleship of Prayer, founded in 1844, although it had
existed beforehand. Despite the anachronous dates, Antoinette appears to be reciting Fr.
Francois Xavier Gaulrelet's Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart:
O Jesus, I offer You my prayers, works, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of
Your Most Sacred Heart. Amen.

During the mid-twentieth century, a nun wrote to Pope Pius XII pointing out that the
prayer's exclusion of the concept of joy was not very Christian, and the prayer was changed
to 'our prayers, works, joys and suffering'.

Page 32. " But after the meal, now and at the hour of our death, and at midday and at six in
the evening, now and at the hour of our death. "

The times of day would be prayer times in the convent.

The Hail Mary contains the line 'Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and
at the hour of our death'.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia contains an article on the Hail Mary.

The Hail Mary is an integral part of the Rosary:

Page 32. " Sister Marie August says thoughts are not sins, if they are driven away at once.
Catholic doctrine defines sin as a morally bad act - it is how one reacts to thoughts, rather
than the thought itself, that defines sin.
Page 36. " So it was all over, the advance and retreat, the doubts and hesitations.
Everything finished, for better or for worse. "

'for better or for worse' echoes the words of the Church of England marriage service, and
offers a hint as to what has occurred in the narrative gap between parts one and two.

Page 36. " So this is Massacre. "

Massacre is a real place in Dominica. Various stories surround its name. One concerns the
murder of Indian Warner (son of Sir Thomas Warner, first English governor of St
Christopher's and Nevis) by his white half-brother, Philip, governor of Antigua. Another
concerns the alleged massacre of native Caribs by white settlers in the place in 1674.

Page 36. " She wore a tricorne hat which became her "
nineteenth century engraving of eighteenth century soldiers wearing tricorne hats

The three-cornered tricorne hat was popular in Europe during the late 17th century and
18th century, falling out of style shortly before the French Revolution. Originally military
uniform, it was often also worn by civilians. Antoinette, however, is rather behind
European fashion.

The tricorne hat's popularity in Europe was due to the fact that its brim guttered rain away
from the wearer's head, a benefit that would also have been appreciated in Domenica, parts
of which get over 350 inches of rain a year.

Page 39. " None of the furtive shabby manoeuvres of a younger son. I have sold my soul or
you have sold it "
Page 4 of Goethe's Faust, translated by Bayard Taylor and illustrated by Harry Clarke.

According to the British laws of primogeniture, all the father's property would be inherited
by the oldest son. Younger sons could not depend upon inheritance, and had to earn their
own living or marry well.

Rochester refers to the Faust legend Faust sold his soul to the devil for knowledge.
Christopher Marlow's Doctor Faustus and Goethe's Faust are reworkings of this legend.

Page 40. " There was a large screw pine to the left "
screw pine - Credit: Damien Dempsey
The many branches of the pandanus often curl around, thus the name screw pine, although
it is not actually a pine tree.
Page 42. " two glasses of rum punch were waiting for us "
Pirates carrying rum on shore to purchase slaves as depicted in The Pirates Own Book by
Charles Ellms

Rum is distilled from sugarcane, the Caribbean's main crop, cultivated on plantations like

Rum was originally drunk by slaves, who distilled it from molasses, a by-product of sugar
refinement. It takes a long time to go off, and thus became phenomenally popular among
sailors and pirates.

Page 43. " A Seville orange tree grew by the steps "
Seville orange tree - Credit: Keith Roper
The Seville orange tree produces a bitter fruit.
Page 43. " Byron's poems, novels by Sir Walter Scott, Confessions of an Opium Eater, some
shabby brown volumes, and on the last shelf, Life and Letters of ... The rest was eaten
away. "
Thomas Phillips, Lord Byron in Albanian dress

Lord Byron's poems were incredibly popular in the 1810s and 1820s, so much so that he is
often regarded as the first celebrity. Major works include Childe Harold and Don Juan.
Byron was a scandalous and exotic figure. He had many affairs, including, allegedly,
an incestuous affair with his sister. Exiled from England for this reason, he travelled
extensively and died of a fever in Greece whilst campaigning for Greek independence from
the Ottoman Empire.
Sir Henry Raeburn, Portrait of Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott wrote historical adventure romances, including such famous works as
Ivanhoe (1819), Waverley (1814), The Heart of Midlothian(1818) and The Bride of
Lammermoor (1819). He was the first English language novelist to achieve major
international fame.

Confessions of an English Opium Eater was written by Romantic writer Thomas De

Quincey in 1821, and was an immediate success. It detailed De Quincey's laudanum and
opium addiction.

These books were the bestsellers of their time a period several decades earlier. Together
with the detail that one has been eaten away by mould, this suggests that the house has been
abandoned for a long time.

Byron's poems were not officially collected together until John Middleton Murray's
posthumous Collected Works in 1832. In line with Rhys's desired effect of abandonment, it
is more likely that Rochester is looking at a collection of various verse publications by
Byron (although pirate collections probably existed) rather than the Collected Works.

Page 46. " la Josphine "

Portrait of the Empress Josphine, by Franois Grard
After Empress Josphine, Napoleon's wife until 1810. She herself was Creole, coming
originally from Martinique.

Josphine de Beauharnais's style, particularly her white empire line dresses, were a massive
influence on French regency dress.

As Josephine was divorced by Napoleon in 1810 and died in 1837, it is clear again that
Caribbean Creole fashion is rather behind the European model it copies.

Page 46. " St Pierre, Martinique "

Remains of St Pierre, 1902 - Credit: Angelo Heilprin

As the text says, the 'Paris of the West Indies'.

Much of French trade went through St Pierre, so it was ahead of the rest of the Caribbean in
keeping up with French fashions. A successful trading port, its inhabitants could afford the
finest clothes and European pleasures: it had a theatre modelled on the theatre in Bordeaux,
and landscaped parks. Even its black population was reported to exude Gallic charm.
According to a 1902 eulogy for the lost city, they were:

of the best class of negros, most of them having been educated in the schools of Paris

The city was completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902. 30,000 lives were lost.

Page 46. " There were trailing pink flowers on the table and the name echoed pleasantly in
my head. Coralita, Coralita "
Antigonon leptopus - Credit: Eran Finkle
Coralita (Antigonon leptopus) is a twining vine with pink, coral-coloured flowers.

Page 46. " The food, though too highly seasoned, was lighter and more appetizing than
anything I had tasted in Jamaica. "

Jamaican Jerk Chicken - Credit: Naotake Murayama

Dominican cuisine is milder than spicy Jamaican cuisine, although both use local spices
heavily. Much of the spiciness of Jamaican food is due to Indian influences, following the
British import of Indian labour in the 19th century. Jamaican food is also notoriously
Page 47. " 'Carac-cracs,' she explained, 'they make a sound like their name, and crickets
and frogs.' "

Probably a cicada, an insect similar to a cricket, found in tropical climates.

Page 51. " Rose elle a vcu "

An extract from the most famous line of Franois de Malherbe's 'Consolation Monsieur
du Prier' (1598), written upon the death of M. du Prier's daughter. The line, 'Et, rose, elle
a vcu ce que vivent les roses' translates into English as 'And, a rose, she lived as roses
live'. Consoliato contains the full text and English translation.

Page 52. " fer de lance "

French for spearhead. Bothrops lanceolatus is a venomous pit viper endemic to

Martinique, but unknown on nearly all other Caribbean islands. The related Bothrops
caribaeus is found only on the island of St Lucia, and is sometimes also referred to as a fer
de lance.

Page 53. " St Kitts "

St Kitts - Credit: Aaron Vos

A Caribbean Island, St Kitts has Spanish, French and British colonial history.

Page 55. " Adieu foulard, adieu madras, or Ma belle ka di maman li. "

From the song 'Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras', in which the singer bids farewell to the fine
materials foulard (silk, or a silk and cotton blend) and madras (cotton, or a silk and cotton
blend). The girl asks her mother why beautiful flowers die in a day.

Listen on Spotify: Adieu foulard, adieu madras

For a version of the song in Martinique creole with an English translation, (which lacks the
line about flowers) click here.

Edwin Hill's '"Adieu Madras, Adieu Foulard": Musical Origins and the Doudou's Colonial
Plaint' offers a scholarly analysis of the song.

Page 55. " I watched her die many times. In my way, not hers. "

The French use the metaphor 'la petite mort' for orgasm, which seems to be the sense in
which Rochester means die here.

Page 55. " Only the sun was there to keep us company. We shut him out. "

Reminiscent of John Donne's 'The Sun Rising':

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,

Why dost thou thus,

Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?

Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?

Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide

Late school-boys and sour prentices,

Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,

Call country ants to harvest offices;

Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,

Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong

Why shouldst thou think?

I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,

But that I would not lose her sight so long.

If her eyes have not blinded thine,

Look, and to-morrow late tell me,

Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine

Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.

Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,

And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I;

Nothing else is;

Princes do but play us ; compared to this,

All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.

Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,

In that the world's contracted thus;

Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be

To warm the world, that's done in warming us.

Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;

This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Page 58. " French and English like cat and dog in these islands since long time. "
The French and British were at war during the early nineteenth-century, and they were
constantly fighting over territory in the Caribbean. Dominica had been French, but changed
hands three times between France and England in the late seventeenth century until British
victory. The French had tried to reclaim Dominica as recently as 1805.

Page 59. " and you bewitch with her "

This suggests the practice of obeah, as well as relating to Jane Eyre: on their first meeting,
Rochester accuses Jane of bewitching his horse.

Page 60. " Is your wife going the same way as her mother and all knowing it? "

In Victorian times, madness was widely believed to be hereditary, and females were seen to
be more predisposed towards madness than men a mother would pass her madness on to
her daughter.

In Jane Eyre, a genetic predisposition towards madness is the only explanation given for
Bertha's insanity. See 'Madness Within Victorian Society' for more information.

Page 63. " How old was I when I learned to hide what I felt? A very small boy. "

Upper class Victorian males were educated to prepare them for duties in running the largest
empire ever known. It was an education that prized rationality over emotion, and taught
boys that as men they would be in rational control of the situations they found themselves

This education seems to have damaged Rochester's emotional faculties.

Page 63. " the red clay was very muddy. "

Much of the rainforest interior of Dominica is what W. H. Hodge describes as a 'slippery,

bright-red ferruginous clay'. The base rock suffers heavy erosion dues to the heat and
humidity of the climate, and forms this clay.

See W. H. Hodge's article 'The Vegetation of Dominica' in The Geographical Review.

Page 63. " I passed a sparse plantation of coffee trees, the straggly guava bushes "
coffee tree - Credit: FCRebelo
Dominica is famed for its coffee, and nowadays, as in the 1840s, there are many coffee
plantations on the island.

guava tree - Credit: Nsaum75

Page 64. " Under the orange tree I noticed little bunches of flowers tied with grass. "

Gifts left to appease the spirits. If the locals believe the place to be haunted, this would also
explain the girl's scream and Baptiste's refusal to talk about the road.
Page 65. " 'There was a road here sometime.' 'No road,' he repeated obstinately "

Roads in Dominica fell into disrepair after the French left - there would have been many
ghostly roads.

Page 67. " Pink and red hibiscus grew in front of her door "

Red hibiscus - Credit: LRBurdak

Page 67. " She lit her pipe "

Tobacco was another of the West Indies' major exports. By the nineteenth-century, much of
the tobacco smoked in Britain was from the British Caribbean. In Britain and the States,
white women did not smoke, as it was considered unladylike.

Kate Chopin's late nineteenth-century heroines are often depicted smoking in assertion of
their freedom and unconventionality (as did the author herself). There were fewer cultural
restrictions on female behaviour among the black community of the Caribbean.

Page 68. " That is English Law "

Under English Law, all the personal property bought to a marriage by the wife belonged to
the husband. This continued until the first Married Woman's Property Acts of 1870 and

Page 69. " England, rosy pink in the geography book map, but on the page opposite the
words are closely crowded, heavy looking. Exports, coal, iron, wool. Then Imports and
Character of Inhabitants. "

World Map 1897

In nineteenth century school atlases, pink was used to denote the British Empire. This is an
example from 1897.

That the two most important facts cited about countries were exports and imports is
indicative of world relations in colonial times. In 1803 the West Indies accounted for one
third of British imports and exports.

Page 69. " Essex, Chelmsford on the Chelmer. The Yorkshire and Lincolnshire wolds. "
Essex on English map - Credit: Wereon

Chelmsford Cathedral - Credit: Qst

Essex is a county in the South East of England. Chelmsford is a 12th century market town,
and the county town of Essex. The river Chelmer runs through it.

The Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds are an area of low hills divided by the River
Snowy Yorkshire Wolds at West Lutton - Credit: James F. Carter
Page 69. " I know what I see with my eyes and I never see it. "

Christophine's disbelief in England is a statement of extreme philosophical relativism

worthy of sophisticated philosophers, as well as a seemingly naive dismissal.

Page 70. " When he passes my door he says 'Goodnight Bertha.' He never calls me
Antoinette now. "

Bertha is the name of Mr Rochester's wife in Jane Eyre.

Page 71. " You are handing everything the child owns to a perfect stranger. Your father
would not have allowed it. She should be protected, legally. A settlement can be arranged
and it should be arranged. That was his intention. "

In order to protect their family line, it was common for brides' families to insist on a
settlement that would ensure that some or all of the property that the wife brings to the
marriage would ultimately belong to her or her children in the case of the death or loss of
the husband. For example, it could be specified that the children of the marriage would
each inherit a certain amount (In Austen's Northanger Abbey, General Tilney could not
completely disinherit his son Henry, as some of his inheritance is guaranteed by the
marriage settlement of his mother). The wife would not necessarily have personal control
over this money during the marriage.
Page 72. " I gave her the smelling salts on the dressing table. "

Smelling salts release ammonia, which irritates the mucous membrane of the nose and
lungs, triggering an inhalation reflex and causing the muscles that control breathing to
speed up.

Page 72. " I kissed her and she gave me a little silk bag. 'My rings. Two are valuable. Don't
show it to him. Hide it away. Promise me.' "

One reason that jewellery has historically been so important to women is that it is one of
the few forms of property that women have been able to own. A wife's jewellery was, until
the Married Women's Property Acts, the property of her husband, but nevertheless it often
functions as financial security for women in fiction, as it undoubtedly did in real life.

The Merchant of Venice's Jessica famously steals her father's ring; one of the first acts of
Daniel Deronda's heroine, Gwendoline, is to pawn a necklace when she realises that her
family is destitute.

Indian women still speak of wearing their fortune (as gold) on their arms and necks.

Page 74. " Nearby a cock crowed and I thought, 'That is for betrayal, but who is the
traitor?' "
Gustave Dor, St Peter Denying Christ

During the Last Supper, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him three times before the
cock crowed (before the cock crowed twice according to Mark 14). Faced with a hostile
crowd after Jesus's arrest, Peter did as prophesied.

The cock crows three times in Wide Sargasso Sea, echoing Peter's three denials of Christ.

Page 74. " what does anyone know about traitors, or why Judas did what he did? "
Gustave Dor, The Judas Kiss

Judas betrayed Christ to the Roman Authorities for thirty pieces of silver. As Angela Smith
says, 'Rochester's family sold him for thirty thousand pounds'.

Page 76. " I hear one time that Miss Antoinette and his son Mr Sandi get married, but that
all foolishness "

"Marry" here means to have sexual intercourse; as is indicated elsewhere, the black
population's concept of marriage is rather different to the white interpretation. For a white
girl to sleep with a mixed-race man was totally taboo, although many white men slept with
black women. As Rhys herself said, it was:

'in those days [the 1900s], a terrible thing for a white girl to do. Not to be forgiven. The
men did as they liked. The women never.'

Page 76. " Vengeance is Mine "

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Romans 12:19

Page 77. " They call me Daniel,' he said, still not looking at me, 'but my name is Esau.' "

Peter Rubens, Daniel in the Lions' Den (1615)

Both Biblical characters.

Daniel survived the lion's den thanks to his Christian piety.

Isaac's eldest son, Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a meal of pottage in
Genesis 25-7. Depending on interpretation, he either cared solely for short term gain, or
was cheated out of his inheritance.

Page 83. " Sometimes when I was thirsty I licked raindrops from the jasmine leaves after a
shower. "
West Indian Jasmine - Credit: Mulberry24, Flickr
Page 84. " Certainly many of the old estates were burned. You saw ruins all over the place.

In Jamaica in 1831, many black slaves, led by the Baptist Minister Sam Sharpe, organised a
protest to call for wages. This soon turned violent: on December 27th protesters razed
Kensington Estate Great House, and for the next ten days burned other estates and crops
and killed a number of white people before the rebellion was savagely put down.
Nonetheless, the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, as it became known, is widely seen as a crucial
catalyst for the 1833 Emancipation Act.

Page 91. " I had his reply in a few days "

Impossible to get a letter from Dominica to Jamaica and receive a reply would take
considerably longer in the colonial West Indies.

Page 92. " If she lives near you and gets up to any of her nonsense let him know at once "

There were (and still are) strict laws against the practice of obeah in the Caribbean
(although now they are not heavily enforced, and the penalties are far less severe). The
Jamaican Slave Laws of 1760, passed after the Tacky slave rebellion, attacked obeah men
and women (who, as community leaders, often led slave revolts) and declared:
any Negro or other Slave who shall pretend to any Supernatural Power and be detected in
making use of any Blood, Feathers, Parrots Beaks, Dogs Teeth, Alligators Teeth, broken
Bottles, Grave Dirt, Rum, Egg-shells or any other materials relating to the practice of
Obeah or Witchcraft in order to delude or impose upon the Minds of others shall upon
Conviction thereof before two Magistrates and three Freeholders suffer Death or

Page 95. " that's Obeah too. "

In Voodoo belief, one of the ways in which a sorcerer gained complete control over his
zombie slave was to rename him, erasing his former identity.

Page 95. " For Charlie over the water "

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Judging from this, Antoinette's grandfather was a supporter of the Jacobite claim to the
English throne.
In the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688-9, William of Orange, at the invitation of the English
nobility, deposed James II, a Catholic. James went into exile in France in 1688; his
supporters would drink to the king 'over the water'.

Charlie is Bonnie Prince Charlie, James's son, who tried unsuccessfully to claim the throne
in 1745. He fled to France, disguised as a lady's maid, after the battle of Culloden, the final
Jacobite rising.

Annette's family were possibly of Scottish Catholic heritage, hence their support for the
Jacobites and, perhaps, their settlement in French Catholic Martinique rather than a British
colony. Perhaps it also explains their relocation to the Caribbean: many supporters of the
1715 rebellion were deported to the British Caribbean.

Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, which was almost certainly on the Coulibri shelf, popularised
and romanticised the Jacobite cause for his nineteenth-century readership.

Robert Burns wrote a poem called O'er the Water to Charlie.

Over the Water to Charlie is a Scottish and English folk song ...

...and Morris dance.

Click here to listen to an In Our Time on the Jacobite Rebellion.

Page 96. " when I felt her teeth in my arm "

In Jane Eyre, Bertha Rochester often recourses to biting, which is interpreted as an act of
her wildness and savagery by the other characters in the book.

Page 96. " Ma belle ka di "

A line from the song Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras, referenced also on p.55.

Page 96. " Or was it the song about one day and a thousand years? "

In response to the daughter's question as to why beautiful flowers live only for a day, the
mother replies that one day and a thousand years are the same to God.
This song seems to be based on 2 Peter 3:8:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand
years, and a thousand years as one day.

Page 98. " One is Prince Rupert, and one who makes songs is Rupert the Rine "

Prince Rupert of the Rhine

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was Charles Is nephew, and a general in the English Civil War.
In 1652, he briefly pursued a career as a buccaneer in the Caribbean, before returning to

These Ruperts may or may not be part of his legacy in the Caribbean.

Page 98. " That doctor an old time doctor. These new ones I dont like them. First word in
their mouth is police. "

There was often tension between the official, colonially approved, doctors and the obeah
men and women whom many of the black population consulted for their health problems.

Page 102. " Give my sister your wife a kiss from me. Love her as I did - oh yes I did. "

Daniel actually said 'Give my love to your wife - my sister [...] You are not the first to kiss
her pretty face.'

Page 104. " The doctors say what you tell them to say "

The Caribbean doctors, as Christophine has already pointed out, are invested in maintaining
white colonial male power. In England, too, they are unlikely to disbelieve a powerful, rich
English man in favour of his Creole wife. If they do, they can probably be bought: gold, as
Antoinette notes, is the idol of the British.

Charlotte Perkin's Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) explores the collusion of
powerful males, husbands and doctors, in misinterpreting and misdiagnosing female
madness in the nineteenth century.

Page 104. " I would give my eyes never to have seen this abominable place. "

In Jane Eyre, Rochester is blinded in the fire Bertha starts at Thornfield.

Page 106. " I drew a house surrounded by trees. A large house. I divided the third floor
into rooms "

This drawing anticipates Antoinette's incarceration in the attic at Thornfield.

Page 107. " Under the oleanders "

oleander bush - Credit: MPF

A fragrant evergreen tree that can grow up to 6 metres tall. A Mediterranean import to the
Caribbean, it is associated in folklore with everlasting if tragic love through the Greek myth
of Hero and Leander.
Page 107. " Not for nothing are they called royal "

Hurricane season in the Caribbean falls between the beginning of June and the end of

In this clip of Wilma hitting Royal Palm Beach, royal palms are the first trees shown.

The royal palm is so named because of its height it is one of the most dominant features
of Caribbean flora.

Page 107. " The bamboos take an easier way, they bend to the earth and lie there "

This isn't always effective hurricane defence. In this clip, taken after Hurricane Ike, the
bamboo has been permanently bent, and is being used as a washing line.

Page 107. " Pity like a naked new-born babe striding the blast. "

From Macbeth by William Shakespeare


And pity, like a naked new-born babe,

Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed

Upon the sightless couriers of the air,

Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,

That tears shall drown the wind.

Act I, Scene 7

This could constitute a subtle, even unconscious, admission of guilt.

Page 107. " Shell moan and cry and give herself as no sane woman would "
The Lady of Shalott - Credit: William Holman-Hunt
The word hysteria comes from the Latin hystericus, meaning of the womb. The cause of
madness, therefore, has historically and linguistically been linked to the female
reproductive organs. Womens madness and overt sexuality were seen as practically
synonymous in Victorian times, and cures for mad women included attempts to control
menstruation and, at worst, clitoridectomy.

As women were not meant to feel sexual pleasure, Antoinette's very pleasure in their
lovemaking is one of the reasons that Rochester's ability to love her is circumscribed, and
why he thinks she is mad.

Womens hair has also been seen as a symbol of their sexuality, and wild, loose hair was
often indicative of a wild, loose woman. Victorian artists and writers were particularly
interested in the significance of womens hair. See Elizabeth G. Gitters The Power of
Womens Hair in the Victorian Imagination.

William Holman Hunts The Lady of Shalott is perhaps the most famous example of this
fascination. Depicted at the moment of her transgression in looking out of her window, the
womans hair has fanned out wide. The image is powerfully sexual, yet the entrapment of
this web of hair is, according to the narrative of Tennysons poem, aimed solely at the lady

Page 109. " Mountain is an ugly word for them. "

Morne Diablotins, Dominica

Morne is the word for mountain in Dominica and the French Caribbean. According to the
OED, it stems from the old French morne (1640). It may also be related to the Spanish
word morro, meaning hillock (1591).

Morne carries connotations of morning and mourning (morne is an archaic spelling of

mourn), which could be why Antoinette finds it the more aesthetically pleasing word.

Page 109. " a bright green sunset. Strange. "

The green flash is an optical phenomenon, associated with the Tropics, where a green light
momentarily appears on the horizon at sunrise or sunset.

See Willard Fisher's article, 'Low Sun Phenomena'

Page 110. " Antoinetta "

When she is named fully in Jane Eyre, it is as Bertha Antoinetta Mason.

Page 110. " a heartstopper is the solitaire's one note - high, sweet, lonely, magic. "
The rufous-throated solitaire is native to the Caribbean.

Page 110. " the picnic at Marie Galante "

Columbus's second voyage - Credit: Roke

A French Island to the north of Dominica and south of Guadeloupe. It was the first Island
of the Guadeloupe Arpeggio to be 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus on his second
voyage, and was named Santa Maria la Galante, after his flagship, the Santa Maria.

Replica of the Santa Maria - Credit: Dietrich Bartel

Page 110. " Or the pirates and what they did between their voyages. "

Haunts of the Brethren

From the 1500s to the 1720s, piracy was rife in the Caribbean, as you can see from this
contemporary map, which marks the haunts of pirates all over the Caribbean sea. For a
detailed history of piracy in the Caribbean, click here.
Page 110. " Then - the earthquake. Oh yes, people say that God was angry at the things
they did, woke from his sleep, one breath and they were gone. "

Map of plate tectonics in the Caribbean area

In 1692 an earthquake destroyed Port Royal, then the capital of Jamaica.

According to Robert Renny's 'An History of Jamaica' (1807):

All the wharves sunk at once, and in the space of two minutes, nine-tenths of the city were
covered with water, which was raised to such a height, that it entered the uppermost rooms
of the few houses which were left standing. The tops of the highest houses, were visible in
the water, and surrounded by the masts of vessels, which had been sunk along with them.

Two-thirds of the town sank into the sea immediately. During the quake, the sand that Port
Royal was built on liquefied, so that the buildings seemed to flow into the sea.

The Port Royal Project is a diving excavation project working on the ruins, which still lie
off the coast of Jamaica.

Map of Port Royal before and after the 1692 earthquake. The dotted line shows the new
coastline, and the shading indicatres land lost to the sea.
Page 110. " the finders never tell, because you see they'd only get one-third then: that's the
law of the treasure. "

The English common law of the treasure trove (which dated from the 11th century)
required any discovery to be handed over to the authorities, who would give little back to
the finders.

The law was changed in the twentieth century to the benefit of the finder.

Page 111. " They bought me, me with your paltry money "
Antoinette's 3,000 dowry would have been substantial in the mid-nineteenth century. In
today's money (24/04/2010), 3,000 in 1840 would be equivalent to US$2,719,735 or

Page 111. " the nameless boy leaned his head against the clove tree and sobbed "

Clove tree - Credit: Midori

The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to 8-12 metres. It has large square leaves
and red flowers.

Page 112. " Even if she had wept like Magdalene it would make no difference. "
Mary Magdalene kneeling within a Stabat Mater scene by Gabriel Wuger, 1868.
Mary Magdalene famously wept at the death of Christ.

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and
looked into the sepulchre,

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where
the body of Jesus had lain.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have
taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.

John 20:11-13

Page 114. " Grace Poole, Mrs Eff "

Grace Poole is Bertha Mason's gaoler in Jane Eyre.

Mrs Fairfax (Mrs Eff) is Thornfield's housekeeper.

Page 115. " you, Leah "

Leah is a servant at Thornfield, and the interlocutor of this italicised section.

Page 116. " I have tasted the drink without colour in the bottle. "

William Hogath, Gin Lane (1751)

This is probably gin, the drink of choice for lower class Victorians. It was cheap and, in the
cities, safer to drink than tap water (which spread typhoid, diphtheria, and other life-
threatening diseases).
In Dickens's Oliver Twist, gin drinking is endemic among the lower echelons of London
society: Mrs Mann, to the approval of Mr Bumble the beadle, gives gin to her baby to help
it sleep.

Page 116. " The room next to this one is hung with tapestry. "

Before the invention of wallpaper, rich households would cover their walls in tapestry for
decoration and insulation.

Page 117. " I saw that my wrists were red and swollen "

In Jane Eyre, Bertha's wrists are tied to restrain her after she attacks Richard Mason.

Page 119. " If you are buried under a flamboyant tree "

Royal Poinciana - Credit: Marc Averette.

The Royal Poinciana, Flamboyant or Flame Tree is a hugely popular tree in the Caribbean,
and is the national flower of St Kitts and Nevis.

Page 120. " Does it make me look intemperate and unchaste? "
Red, of course, is the colour of sexual attraction and sexuality. Rochester is attracted to
Antoinette mainly when she wears her white dress, white being the colour of innocence and

Page 122. " It was a large room with a red carpet and red curtains. "

Reminiscent of the red room that frightens Jane Eyre so much as a child.

Page 123. " stephanotis "

Stephanotis floribunda - Credit: Lenore Edman

Tropical plant with fragrant white flowers.
Page 123. " all my life was in it "

One West Indian belief derived from West African religion is that the spirit returns home
upon death. This was a popular belief among an enslaved and displaced people, and offers a
positive way of reading Antoinette's death.