In English today, I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t the only one having trouble following Wide Sargasso Sea. We discussed that it may be a series of vignettes because A) Either Bertha is trying to write her story while she is locked in Rochester’s attic and she fades in and out of reality due to her madness, or B) because Antoinette is remembering things from her childhood, and no memory is perfect.
Antoinette’s family is scorned by the rest of the village because they are former slave owners, and the others are former slaves. So Antoinette already has a short list of people she can trust because the majority of the villagers hate her family. Add to that the fact that her mom talks to herself, and the other villagers are terrified of her nurse, Christophine – even though she is black like them – and Antoinette cannot trust anyone.
Hence, Atoinette’s outlook on life, as well as the tone of the story, is dark. Antoinette sees everyone as bad, and nothing good ever comes her way to change her perspective. Anything else is better than people.
Because of her family’s isolation and her personal isolation, Antoinette doesn’t really know who she is. She doesn’t have a female role model in her life because her mom is mentally unstable, and she is somewhat afraid of Christophine because of the rumors surrounding her.
Even though Antoinette tries to find out who she is through outside influences and her experiences, it is not enough to give her a secure sense of herself, which could be part of the reasons why she is eventually consumed by madness.