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Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys

Part Two, Section Eight

Summary Part Two, Section Eight

When Christophine accuses Rochester of "breaking" Antoinette, he remains speechless, not responding to her litany of questions. Christophine assumes total control of their dialogue; all Rochester does is repeat her words to himself silently. Christophine thus silences Rochester just as Rochester silences Antoinette by refusing to listen to her. Rochester becomes Christophine's speechless marionette, her puppet, much as Antoinette is his marionette. Indeed, Rochester explicitly identifies with Antoinette when he imagines himself in the place of his wife. Antoinette's words invade his narrative thoughts as he contemplates what she must have said to Christophine about his affair with Amelie. Christophine's dialogic control aligns Rochester—albeit for a short time—with his powerless wife.

As Rochester listens to Christophine, he is inundated with many different voices, from Antoinette's to Daniel's. Rhys thus offers a glimpse into Rochester's unconscious and his unspoken thoughts. Often, Rochester is too self- restrained and rational to expose his inner self. The letter he writes to his father, for example, betrays little of Rochester's anger and resentment, but is instead formal and proper in tone. The only time Rochester does express his unconscious is when he absentmindedly doodles a drawing. As though his innermost thoughts were struggling to spell out a warning, the picture that he draws coincides with the future that he chooses; the reader of Jane Eyre recognizes the significance of Rochester's scribbled picture of a woman staring out from the attic window.