The role and significance of characters in Wide Sargasso Sea

Characters as constructs

When we read a novel we usually react to the characters in the story as if they were real people; we may identify or sympathise with them, or dislike them. However, it is important to keep in mind that characters are made up, not real. They are constructed by the writer from a range of formal devices which can be looked at in different ways.

Role and significance

  • role refers to the character's part in developing the plot
  • significance refers to the way the character contributes to the themes of the novel.

Investigating role and significance

A useful way of getting an overview of characterisation in Wide Sargasso Sea is to make a list of all the characters in the novel.

  • In two columns, make notes on the role and significance of:
    • Antoinette
    • Rochester
  • Do the same with
    • Antoinette's immediate family
      • Annette
      • Old Cosway
      • Old Mason
      • Pierre
    • Antoinette's wider family
      • Aunt Cora
      • Daniel Cosway
      • Alexander Cosway
      • Sandi Cosway
      • Richard Mason
    • The servants
      • Christophine
      • Baptiste
      • Amélie
      • Grace Poole
    • Any others you think are significant, such as
      • Tia


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