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
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alikeoleander 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 November.

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. " She’ll moan and cry and give herself as no sane woman would "
The Lady of Shalott
Public DomainThe 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. Women’s 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.




Women’s 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 women’s hair.  See Elizabeth G. Gitter’s ‘The Power of Women’s Hair in the Victorian Imagination’.

William Holman Hunt’s 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 woman’s hair has fanned out wide. The image is powerfully sexual, yet the entrapment of this web of hair is, according to the narrative of Tennyson’s poem, aimed solely at the lady herself.

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

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. Its song can be heard here.


Page 110. " the picnic at Marie Galante "
Columbus's second voyage
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeColumbus'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
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeReplica of the Santa Maria - Credit: Dietrich Bartel



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

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.


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 £1,765,015.

Page 111. " the nameless boy leaned his head against the clove tree and sobbed "
Clove tree
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeClove 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 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. "

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 typhoiddiphtheria, 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
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRoyal 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 purity.

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
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStephanotis 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.