Un petit sujet pour partager nos plans de l'extrait 8.
At that point of the story, Rochester and Antoinette seem trapped in
their marriage. Moreover, even if Antoinette tells Rochester her story, the vibe remains tense.
That point shows, actually, Jean Rhys opinion: they come from two different worlds and because of their differences, they can’t be reconciled.
Just before that passage, Antoinette got a love potion from Christophine, and gave it to Rochester…
I. Rochester’s reactions
- As soon as he wakes up, he thinks he has been poisoned by his wife: he‘s so suspicious, probably because of her family’s madness that he accuses her immediately.
- Physically: he’s been taken ill, can’t vomit, and eventually, manage to. But he is very weak and doesn’t understand what happened to him, which is much more scaring.
- Emotionally: As he looks his wife, even if she’s pretty, he doesn’t feel attracted by her anymore: her beauty doesn’t blind his judgement for the first time. He even considers that she’s dead by covering her with a sheet as if it was a corpse.
- Finally: he flees into the wood to go to the ruined house he went once by chance. As Antoinette did when she was a child, he seeks refuge in nature. Ironically, we have the impression that, for the first time, they look alike, and could understand each other. He eventually falls asleep and wakes up hours later, by night.
II. Rochester’s revenge, using Amélie
- That poisoning is the last straw; he can’t take it anymore and decides, for the first time, to act. Indeed, since the beginning of the story, he was passive and underwent everything, but at that moment, he changes his mind.
- Thus, when he comes back to Granbois, he chooses a very cruel way to take hisrevenge: he decides to cheat on her with Amélie and make sure Antoinette can hear them. He becomes cruel.
- Rochester’s dual vision of Amélie: at first, she appears like a mother to him, by finding and taking care of him. He even thinks she’s gay and natural (the contrary of what he thinks of his own wife) but as soon as he slept with her, he realises how inferior she is: she’s just a black servant. That’s why he rejects her, and even pays her, showing she’s a whore to him.
Through his revenge, we have the impression he wants to humiliate Antoinette and Amélie too, as if he was furious against all the women. He needs to make them suffer because of what they did to him.
That extract is crucial because it shows the transformation of Rochester. Whereas he used to let the things be, be passive, and well-meaning, he finally decides to control his life, and even becomes cruel and mean.
Moreover, this passage is very ironical: indeed, Rochester starts to hate his wife just after she gave her a love potion. Moreover, his weakness and anger reveals that he’s as afraid as Antoinette is, which shows, they could understand each other, for the first time.
But that’s too late: he already decides about Antoinette’s fate: he will destroy her.