Wide Sargasso Sea

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Though never named in the novel, Antoinette Cosway’s husband is understood to be Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester, an English gentleman. The husband is deeply disoriented, even disturbed, by the Jamaican landscape and culture, and sees Antoinette as emblematic of both. Though he experiences a short period of passion with Antoinette during their honeymoon, his feelings of distrust and animosity eventually outweigh his love, so that he ends up imprisoning her in the attic of his English manor.

The Husband Quotes in Wide Sargasso Sea

The Wide Sargasso Sea quotes below are all either spoken by The Husband or refer to The Husband. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W.W. Norton & Company edition of Wide Sargasso Sea published in 1992.
Part 2 Quotes

This a very wild place — not civilized. Why you come here?

Related Characters: The Young Bull (speaker), The Husband
Related Symbols: The Natural Landscape: Gardens, Jungle, Trees
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narration has shifted to the point of view of a new character, Antoinette's husband. Antoinette and her new husband have traveled to a town called Massacre. During their time in the town, a porter named the Young Bull asks the Husband, seemingly a rich, sophisticated man, why he's brought his wife to an uncivilized area.

The word "civilized" carries with it many connotations. As the passage suggests, civilization is a kind of shorthand for whiteness and wealth: the Young Bull's definition of "civilized" is, of course, biased by a colonial history of language in favor of white, English-speaking people like the Husband. The Young Bull is hoping to raise himself up socially by being especially submissive to the Husband and showing his disdain for his fellow workers.

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If she were taller, one of these strapping women dressed up to the nines, I might be afraid of her.

Related Characters: The Husband (speaker), Antoinette Cosway
Related Symbols: Clothing and Hair
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Husband discussed Christophine, the black nurse who knows the art of obeah. The Husband finds Christophine a little intimidating, but also chooses to try and deny her power based on her clothing. The Husband seems to conflate Christophine's appearance with her humanity: he'd change his opinion of her if she changed her clothing (or, more to the point, her race and class).

The passage also shows that Christophine has power that goes beyond her race or sex. The Husband seems perfectly comfortable around the other characters in the novel, regardless of their race or gender. And yet there's something about Christophine--perhaps because of her confidence and her association with magic--that intimidates him.

As for my confused impressions they will never be written. There are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up.

Related Characters: The Husband (speaker)
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, the Husband flashes back to discuss how he and Antoinette came to be married. He acknowledges that there are some "holes" in his story, which he's unable to remember totally.

By establishing that his narration isn't perfect, the Husband raises the possibility that his account of the facts isn't particularly reliable at all--once again adding to the effect of questionable truth and reality within the novel. In a more profound sense, though, the Husband's statements suggests the gaps in his soul, too--he's a flawed, exceptionally weak person, who marries Antoinette because he thinks doing so will make him "a man." The Husband marries because he wants to be stronger, than blames Antoinette when he remains exactly the same.

I take up my pen after long thought and meditation but in the end the truth is better than a lie...you have been shamefully deceived by the Mason family...That girl she look you straight in the eye and talk sweet talk and it’s lies she tell you. Lies.

Related Characters: Daniel Cosway (speaker), Antoinette Cosway, The Husband
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Husband receives a mysterious letter from Daniel Cosway, one of the illegitimate children of "Old Cosway," Antoinette's father. Daniel claims that the Husband has been deceived in marrying Antoinette: she is not, in fact, a virtuous young woman, but rather the product of an evil family with madness in their blood. Daniel will go on to explain that Antoinette's family was hated in Jamaica for trafficking in slaves, and that Old Cosway had sex with many of his slaves. Furthermore, Daniel claims that there's a history of insanity in the Cosway family.

Notice that Daniel never actually levels any criticisms at Antoinette as an individual, and yet because of her genetic relationship to Old Cosway, Daniel is saying she's somehow "guilty" of her family's evils.

These people are very vulnerable. How old was I when I learned to hide how I felt? A very small boy.

Related Characters: The Husband (speaker)
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Husband wonders to himself why the Jamaican people are so open with their feelings. He dismisses any such openness as an abnormality, and a sign of immaturity and foolishness. The Husband contrasts the Jamaicans' openness with his own English-style nurturing, where he learned to be polite and adept at hiding his true feelings.

First, the Husband is wrong to assume that only civilized people are good at hiding their emotions: the English culture of the "stiff upper lip" (i.e., never giving away one's inner feelings) is world-famous, and yet it hardly proves that English people are the best. (In fact, it arguably leads to all kinds of neuroses and an unhealthy society altogether.) Second, the Husband's claims of having total control over his feelings is ironic, since by now it's clear for all to see that he's had an affair with his maid: he hasn't done a good job of hiding his true feelings at all.

But I cannot go. He is my husband after all.

Related Characters: Antoinette Cosway (speaker), The Husband
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Antoinette talks with Christophine about her unhappy marriage to the Husband. Antoinette knows that her husband has had an affair with at least one other woman; she also senses that her husband doesn't really love her at all. Christophine earnestly suggests that Antoinette leave the Husband, but Antoinette refuses--there's no way she can leave, since she's dependent on the Husband in every way. (He controls her money, where she travels, etc.)

The passage reminds us that at the time, husbands had the power of life and death over their wives--they could control their money, have them declared insane, etc. Antoinette's helplessness reminds us how incredible Christophine's achievement is: she's somehow made a life for herself without becoming dependent on anyone, male or female.

I was tired of these people. I disliked their laughter and their tears, their flattery and envy, conceit and deceit. And I hated the place. I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and loveliness.

Related Characters: The Husband (speaker), Antoinette Cosway
Related Symbols: The Natural Landscape: Gardens, Jungle, Trees
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the second Part of the book, the Husband has essentially separated with his wife, Antoinette. Moreover, the Husband has become deeply disillusioned with Jamaica and Antoinette both. He notes that he despises the Jamaican people, dislikes their language and culture and customs, and even hates the beauty of the Jamaican landscape and sky. This hatred, it's suggested, comes not from any kind of reasonable aversion but rather from pure bitterness: the Husband hates what he can't have, what remains "magic and lovely" and unreachable to him.

As the novel comes to a close, the Husband makes Antoinette a "representative" of Jamaica itself. Antoinette, the Husband has recognized before, is a good woman--and yet the Husband, because of his own weakness and coldness, struggles to appreciate such beauty--just as he struggles to embrace the beauty of Jamaica itself. Ultimately, then, it's because of the Husband's own weakness and inability to appreciate beauty that the marriage breaks apart. Although he pretends to be a just, progressive liberal, he ends up seeming like a shallow fool who doesn't know how good he had it until it's too late.

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The Husband Character Timeline in Wide Sargasso Sea

The timeline below shows where the character The Husband appears in Wide Sargasso Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
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Part Two begins with Antoinette’s new husband’s narration. He is never named in the novel. He and Antoinette have just married and... (full context)
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...woman in the door of a nearby hut, and goes to speak to her. The husband analyzes her appearance critically. He thinks of her eyes as “too large” and “disconcerting... long,... (full context)
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The husband leaves the shelter of the tree to speak to the two porters also accompanying them... (full context)
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They ride up into the mountains toward Granbois. the husband understands why the Young Bull called the place wild, and thinks to himself that it... (full context)
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They ride on and arrive at Granbois. Antoinette offers the husband a drink of water from the mountain stream at the boundary of the estate, and... (full context)
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Antoinette introduces the husband to the servants, whom she has known since childhood. Among them is Baptiste, a dignified... (full context)
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Antoinette shows the husband to their suite, where they toast their happiness with rum punch, and see that two... (full context)
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The husband’s narration looks back to his initial courtship of Antoinette, and their wedding. Of Jamaica and... (full context)
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The husband describes the morning before the wedding, when a panicked Richard Mason, who in the wake... (full context)
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The husband falls asleep remembering his wedding day, and when he wakes up he finds Antoinette waiting... (full context)
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After dinner, the husband and Antoinette go for a walk. Antoinette tells him of a night during her childhood,... (full context)
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The next morning, the husband wakes to find Antoinette already up and dressed, and Christophine serving breakfast. Christophine offers the... (full context)
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The husband describes the pools and the surrounding jungle as beautiful and untouched, “with an alien, disturbing,... (full context)
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The husband describes watching the sunset each evening with Antoinette, when he would wait for the scent... (full context)
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...to live before meeting him, and he questions his initial hesitation to marry her. The husband describes a period of frequent and passionate lovemaking with Antoinette. One of these nights, she... (full context)
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One day, Amélie delivers a letter to the husband, from someone who identifies himself as Daniel Cosway, the “most unfortunate and poverty stricken” of... (full context)
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The letter goes on to tell the husband that in the wake of “the glorious Emancipation Act,” the estate at Coulibri went to... (full context)
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...he lives, he became certain that God had made it his duty to tell the husband the truth, because he is a man who he’s heard is “young and handsome with... (full context)
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The husband is not surprised by the letter, in fact he feels as if he’s been waiting... (full context)
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As Antoinette waits for Christophine, she ignores the husband and begins to shred her bed sheet in quiet distress. When Christophine arrives, Antoinette asks... (full context)
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...her to a centipede. She kisses Antoinette on the cheek and leaves. Antoinette asks the husband if he heard the song Amélie was singing, and he says he didn’t understand it.... (full context)
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After a while, the husband knocks on Antoinette’s door and receives no answer. He sits down to eat, and sees... (full context)
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While walking, the husband thinks of all the people who must have known the truth of Antoinette’s background and... (full context)
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This mysterious place calms the husband, but not for long. He soon sees a little girl carrying a basket, approaching the... (full context)
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Once the husband recognizes Baptiste, he follows him back toward the house. He asks Baptiste about the abandoned... (full context)
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Back at the house, the husband goes into his private drawing room and pulls out a book called “The Glittering Coronet... (full context)
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...that there must be something else she can do. Christophine replies that it is the husband who will be laughed at, not her, and tells her that she cannot force the... (full context)
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...has no money of her own, as it has all been signed over to the husband. Christophine is furious, and blames Richard Mason for the arrangement, calling him, "worse than Satan."... (full context)
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...and you certainly know now." Christophine tells Antoinette to hush, that she cannot make the husband love her, but Antoinette insists, "Yes you can, I know you can...You can make people... (full context)
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Antoinette continues to insist that Christophine use her power to make her husband come to her bed for just one night. She is confident that she will be... (full context)
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...to “have spunks,” to “do battle for yourself.” She tells her to go to the husband and tell him the truth about what happened at Coulibri, and explain what caused her... (full context)
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The narrative re-enters the husband’s consciousness. On the day that Antoinette goes to see Christophine, Amélie delivers another letter from... (full context)
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When Amélie arrives, the husband asks her if Daniel Cosway is a friend of hers. She says no, but she... (full context)
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...“very superior man,” who read the Bible and lived like a white man. When the husband asks what she means by this, she explains that Cosway has a house “like white... (full context)
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Amélie warns the husband that he should go and visit Daniel Cosway before he comes to the house to... (full context)
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The narration now jumps to the husband in Daniel Cosway’s sitting room. It is very hot, and there is no breeze, because... (full context)
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Daniel tells the husband that his name is actually Esau, and that the only things he ever received from... (full context)
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...fortune. He accuses Daniel of constantly pestering him for money, which Daniel explains to the husband as having been merely so that he would not have to "go barefoot like a... (full context)
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While Daniel is relaying this story to the husband, he drinks rum steadily. The husband asks him why he wanted to see him. Daniel... (full context)
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...as “like a white man, but more handsome than any white man.” At this, the husband gets up to leave, but Daniel stops him. He tells him again that Antoinette and... (full context)
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The husband and Antoinette are having dinner, with an “endless procession” of moths again flying into the... (full context)
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The husband asks Antoinette if her mother is alive, and Antoinette responds that she died not long... (full context)
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The husband becomes uncomfortable and suggests that they talk about it another time. Antoinette demands that they... (full context)
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Antoinette tells the husband about her mother. She tells him that after her father’s death Annette was very poor... (full context)
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...remember are lies, because “Lies are never forgotten, they go on and they grow.” The husband asks what Antoinette remembers of herself, and she says that she was happy in the... (full context)
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...“They trampled it. It was a sacred place. It was sacred to the sun!” The husband wonders silently how much of her story is true, how much of it distorted or... (full context)
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Antoinette tells the husband that a rock was thrown at her head the night Coulibri burned. She recalls that... (full context)
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...she has said all she wants to, and nothing has changed. She laughs, and the husband says, “Don’t laugh like that, Bertha.” She replies that her name is not Bertha, and... (full context)
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They get up to go in to bed, and the husband again calls her Bertha, despite her protests. When they get into the bedroom, the husband... (full context)
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The husband awakes before the sun rises, having dreamt that he was buried alive. He is cold... (full context)
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When he returns to the house, the husband is fed and cared for by Amélie, and they spend the night together. Though Amélie... (full context)
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The husband goes back to sleep, and is woken by Baptiste telling him that the cook is... (full context)
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...now are unclear, but that she is considered a “most dangerous person.” He tells the husband that if she lives near him and gets up to “any of her nonsense,” that... (full context)
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...the house, closely followed by Christophine. Antoinette goes to her room without looking at the husband, and rings for Baptiste. Baptiste fetches a bottle of rum to bring her, and ignores... (full context)
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Antoinette reaches for another bottle of rum, and the husband tells her not to drink anymore. She snaps back that he has no right to... (full context)
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The husband opens the window because it has become unbearably hot in the room. When he turns... (full context)
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Antoinette laughs a crazy laugh at this, and says that the husband is cold, a stone. She says that it serves her right, because Aunt Cora had... (full context)
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Christophine turns to the husband and asks him sadly why he did what he did with Amélie, why he didn’t... (full context)
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...satisfied, that she knows what he’s done and there’s no use lying to her. The husband demands to know what happened when Antoinette was with Christophine these last few days. He... (full context)
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...all he wants is to hurt her. Her words begin to echo loudly in the husband’s head, as she accuses him of pretending to believe the lies that Daniel Cosway has... (full context)
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The husband again knows that she is right, that he meant for her to hear what happened.... (full context)
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...She reminds him that it is not Antoinette who traveled to England to convince the husband to marry her, it is he who came here to beg her. She asks him... (full context)
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The husband asks Christophine if she and Antoinette would both stay here at Granbois, and she says... (full context)
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...She says this is the first word of truth he’s spoken so far. When the husband next looks at her, it looks as if there is a mask on her face,... (full context)
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Agitated after his confrontation with Christophine, the husband paces his room and speaks aloud to himself a letter he wants to write to... (full context)
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While he is writing, a cock outside crows persistently. the husband throws a book at it, but it merely walks further away and keeps crowing. Baptiste... (full context)
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On the morning of their departure, the husband and Antoinette are dressed and packed for the journey, and Baptiste, along with some remaining... (full context)
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The husband is filled with a bewildering and sudden certainty that everything he’d imagined to be true... (full context)
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A servant boy begins to cry “loud, heartbreaking sobs,” and the husband thinks that he could have “strangled him with pleasure.” The husband asks Baptiste why the... (full context)
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They leave, and the husband notices that when Antoinette says goodbye to Baptiste she very nearly cries, but recovers her... (full context)
Part 3
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...Grace Poole, Antoinette’s caretaker in England. She is speaking to Leah, another servant in the husband’s house. Grace recounts a conversation she’s had with Mrs. Eff, the housekeeper, where Mrs. Eff... (full context)
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...was first brought here and locked in the attic, she planned to plead with the husband to let her go, but she never saw him again and never got the chance.... (full context)
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...that the name “Grace” does not fit Grace Poole, that “names matter,” remembering when the husband refused to call her Antoinette, that as a result of this she felt the sense... (full context)
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...him, but she declined. She recalls that Sandi often came to see her when the husband was away, that the servants all knew about it but didn’t tell. She recalls that... (full context)