"The girl said, 'Look crazy girl, you crazy like your mother. Your aunt frightened to have you in the house. She send you for the nuns to lock up…She have eyes like zombie and you have eyes like zombie too. Why you won't look at me.'" 

When Antoinette first arrives at the convent in Part One, two children accost her and begin taunting her about her family history. This moment marks one of the first in which she hears rumors about her mother’s madness from strangers, and these rumors establish the notion that madness runs in families. Imparting this perspective onto a young girl like Antoinette damages her sense of self, causing her to feel even more lost and isolated as she grows into her womanhood. 

"'I am afraid of what may happen.' 'But don’t you remember last night I told you that when you are my wife there would not be any more reason to be afraid?' 'Yes,' she said. 'Then Richard came in and you laughed. I didn't like the way you laughed.'"

When Antoinette initially refuses to marry Rochester the day before their wedding in Part Two, she offers this honest and vulnerable response to him which reflects the precariousness of entering into an arranged marriage. The volatile nature of her childhood suggests that, in this moment, she simultaneously fears giving her agency over to another person and that Rochester will not have enough influence of his own to keep her safe. This paradox emphasizes the unique relationship that women have with power, especially when it comes to trusting others. 

"This young Mrs. Cosway is worthless and spoilt, she can't lift a hand for herself and soon the madness that is in her, and in all these white Creoles, come out. She shut herself away, laughing and talking to nobody as many can bear witness. As for the little girl, Antoinetta, as soon as she can walk she hid herself if she see anybody." 

Daniel offers this description of Annette and her daughter in his letter to Rochester that appears in Part Two, and he associates madness with both their race and their femininity. He first suggests that all white Creoles are predisposed to madness, a perspective which reflects his disdain toward his oppressors, but he also criticizes Annette’s solitary behavior. Since she and her daughter are skeptical of those around them and fail to adhere to the social conventions imposed on women, Daniel assumes they are mad.

"Then she cursed me comprehensively, my eyes, my mouth, every number of my body, and it was like a dream in the large unfurnished room with the candles flickering and this red-eyed wild-haired stranger who was my wife shouting obscenities at me."

During Antoinette’s drunken expression of her rage in Part Two, Rochester explains that she verbally attacks him and dehumanizes her as he does so. His description of the scene as dreamlike emphasizes just how far removed her behavior is from the deportment typically associated with women, suggesting that outward expressions of anger are not a viable emotional response for them. The added details of “candles flickering” and the color red also function as both devil and temptress imagery to reinforce the relationship between female sexuality and madness.

"They drive her to it. When she lose her son she lose herself for a while and they shut her away. They tell her she is mad, they act like she is mad. Question, question. But no kind word, no friends, her husban' he go off, he leave her. They don't let me see her. I try, but no. They won't let Antoinette see her. In the end—mad I don't know—she give up, she care for nothing."

Toward the end of Part Two, Christophine offers this explanation to Rochester as to why Annette spiraled into madness during Antoinette’s childhood. Christophine frequently serves as a strong feminist voice throughout the novel, and this moment is no different. Rather than the dominant narrative which suggests that madness runs in the Cosway family, she emphasizes that external factors, such as the poor treatment she received from neighbors and her husband, drove her to such a state. This argument highlights the intense social pressures that women face and critiques the ridicule they experience from others in the wake of their suffering.