Grace Poole is the woman whom Mrs. Eff, Thornfield Hall’s housekeeper, hires to preside over Antoinette as she lives in confinement. Although the reader only learns of her early days of employment in Wide Sargasso Sea, she also appears throughout Jane Eyre as a mysterious figure until Jane learns the truth about her job caring for the madwoman in the attic. Her presence in Rhys’s novel may be small, but Grace’s character sets a precedent for the entrapment that Antoinette experiences in England as well as the mysterious air that surrounds her situation. Her primary role, as Mrs. Eff explains, is to serve as a barrier between Antoinette and the outside world. By having someone to watch over his “mad” wife at all times, Mr. Rochester is able to distance himself from the actual enforcement of her confinement. Grace essentially becomes Antoinette’s warden and enables Rochester’s condescending attitude toward his wife by accepting the one-sided narrative that Mrs. Eff tells her. Failing to question the scenario she finds upon arriving at Thornfield Hall, Grace is complicit in the colonial nature of Rochester’s relationship with Antoinette. She does, however, acknowledge that the world can be “black and cruel” to women, and this perspective suggests that she may feel some sympathy toward her charge’s struggle.

While Grace’s job requires her to refrain from gossiping about her charge and maintain control at all times, she has a habit of drinking which reduces her ability to seriously focus on the task at hand. This flaw ultimately makes Antoinette’s search for revenge possible as she begins to learn how to navigate around her at-times oblivious guardian. Despite her insistence in Part Three that she does not “turn [her] back on her when her eyes have that look,” alcohol makes Grace significantly less aware of her surroundings and often puts her completely to sleep. The reoccurrence of these drunken nights gives Antoinette brief periods of freedom in which she can act on her own accord, especially in the novel’s final moments when she sets out to burn down Thornfield Hall. Ironically, the woman tasked with enforcing Antoinette’s isolation is the very person who makes her final act of rebellion possible.