Antoinette - The daughter of ex-slave owners and the story's
principal character, based on the madwoman Bertha from Charlotte
gothic novel Jane Eyre. Antoinette
is a sensitive and lonely young Creole girl who grows up with neither her
mother's love nor her peers' companionship. In a convent school as a young
woman, Antoinette becomes increasingly
introspective and isolated, showing the early signs of her inherited emotional
fragility. Her arranged marriage to an unsympathetic and controlling English gentleman exacerbates her condition and pushes her to fits
of violence. Eventually her husband brings her to England and locks her in his attic,
assigning a servant woman to watch over her. Delusional and paranoid, Antoinette awakes from a vivid dream and sets out to
burn down the house.
Annette - Antoinette's
young and beautiful mother. Annette is
the second wife first to Alexander Cosway and later
to Mr. Mason. The white Jamaican women ostracize Annette because of her beauty and outsider statusshe
is originally from Martinique. A disembodied
presence throughout the book, Annette
shows signs of madness and melancholy in her daughter's earliest recollections.
Often the subject of gossip, she feels abandoned, scared, and persecuted. After
the fire, Mr. Mason leaves Annette
in the care of a black couple who reportedly humiliate
her and mock her condition. Annette
dies when Antoinette is at the convent
Rochester - Antoinette's English husband who, though never named
in the novel, narrates at least a third of the story. Rochester,
the youngest son of a wealthy Englishman, travels to the West
Indies for financial independence, as his older brother will
inherit his father's estate. When Rochester
arrives in Spanish
he comes down with a fever almost immediately. He is
pressured into marrying Antoinette,
although he has only just met her and knows nothing of her family. He soon
realizes the mistake he has made when he and Antoinette
honeymoon on one of the Windward Islands.
Eventually, they abandon the Caribbean lifestyle Rochester has come to abhor. They move back
where he locks his deranged wife in an upstairs garret.
Christophine - A
servant given to Annette as a wedding
present by her first husband, Alexander Cosway. Christophine,
like her mistress, comes from Martinique and is therefore treated as an outsider by the Jamaican servant
women. A wise and ageless figure, Christophine is
loyal to both Annette and her
daughter, and she exercises an unspoken authority within the household. Christophine practices obeah, a Caribbean black magic, with
which she tries to help Antoinette
regain first her husband's love and then her sanity.
Mason - One of the
elegant English visitors who visits Antoinette's
mother at Coulibri Estate. Mr. Mason is
a wealthy Englishman who comes to the West Indies
to make money. Captivated by his second wife's beauty, he intends to become
even more prosperous by restoring Coulibri. He is
confident in his authority to control the servants, believing them harmless and
lazy and dismissing his wife's fears of revolt. Mr. Mason
effectively abandons Annette and her
daughter after the fire.
Aunt Cora - The widow of
a prosperous slave owner. Aunt Cora
lives alone in Spanish
Town. Unlike Antoinette's own mother Annette,
Cora nurtures and cares for Antoinette, and eventually enrolls her in a convent
school. But eventually Cora, too,
abandons Antoinette when she moves to England for a
year. On her return, Cora tries to
ensure Antoinette's financial
independence by giving her a silk pouch and two of her treasured rings. Ill and
in bed, Cora tells her niece that she
does not trust Richard and that she
fears that the Lord has forsaken them.
Alexander Cosway - Antoinette's
deceased father. Alexander Cosway was a debased
ex-slave owner known for fathering illegitimate children, squandering the
family's money, and drinking himself into a stupor. His family lived on Jamaica for
several generations as detested plantation owners; according to his bastard
child, Daniel, madness ran in their
genes. By the time Mr.
died, leaving his second wife and their two children on their own, the
Emancipation Act had led to the ruin of his sugar plantation and the end of his
Amelie - A
young half-caste servant who accompanies Antoinette
and her husband to Granbois. The lovely and
cunning Amelie snickers at her newlywed employers
with a sort of knowing contempt, using her thinly veiled amusement to unsettle
them. When Antoinette slaps Amelie for an impudent comment, Amelie
slaps Antoinette back, calling her a
"white cockroach" and smiling suggestively at her husband. Later, Amelie feeds and comforts Antoinette's
husband, then sleeps with him. When he offers Amelie
a gift of money the following morning, she refuses it and announces that she is
going to leave Massacre and go to Rio, where
she will find rich, generous men.
Cosway - One of
Alexander Cosway's bastard children. Sandi helps his
half-sister, Antoinette, when she is
harassed on her way to school. Although Antoinette
would like to call him "Cousin Sandi," Mr. Mason
scolds her for acknowledging her black relatives. According to Daniel Cosway, Sandi is "more handsome than any white
man" and is well received by polite white
society. Daniel also suggests that
Sandi and Antoinette were sexually
involved as young children. Indeed, Antoinette's
fragmented memory of a goodbye kiss with Sandi supports this
possibility that the two may have been intimate at some point.
Daniel Cosway - Another of Alexander Cosway's bastard chidren. Daniel writes a letter to Rochester that informs him of the madness
that runs in Antoinette's family. The
half-white, half-black Daniel is a
racially split counterpart to the culturally split Antoinette.
Richard Mason - Mr. Mason's
son by his first marriage. After studying for several years in the Barbados, Richard
moves to Spanish Town, where he negotiates Antoinette's marriage arrangements after his father's
death. He persuades the nameless English gentleman to
marry his stepsister, offering him £30,000 and rights over the girl's inheritance. Later, Richard visits the couple in England and
hardly recognizes Antoinette as the madwoman locked in the attic. She flies at him in a
delusional rage, cutting him with a secretly obtained knife.
Tia - Maillotte's daughter and Antoinette's
only childhood friend. At the water pool, Tia betrays Antoinette
by taking her pennies and stealing her clothes. Tia's disloyalty
manifests the allure and corrupting power of money in the text. Like Mr. Mason and Mr. Rochester,
she appears to covet money more than a loving relationship, whether it be a childhood friendship or a marriage.
Pierre - Antoinette's mentally and physically disabled younger
brother. While not explicitly stated, it is suggested
illness is a result of inbreeding and physical decline in the Cosway family. When the house at Coulibri
is set on fire, Pierre
is trapped in his burning room for some time, and he
dies soon after.
Mr. Luttrell - One
of Annette Cosway's only friends after the death of
her husband. Mr. Luttrell lives at Nelson's
Rest, the estate that neighbors the Cosway home.
Suffering financial hardship in the wake of the Emancipation Act, in sudden
desperation he shoots his dog and swims out to sea, never to be
seen again. Distant relatives finally reclaim Mr. Luttrell's
Baptiste - One
of servants at Granbois, the overseer of the mansion. Baptiste
is a dignified man of advanced age.
Godfrey - One
of the old Cosway servants who stays on after the
master's death. Godfrey is considered a greedy and untrustworthy "rascal,"
at least in Annette's view. He makes
constant allusions to death and damnation.
Sass - One of the servants who has
been at Coulibri for several years, ever since his
mother abandoned him there as a child. Sass leaves the estate when Annette's money runs out, but he returns when Mr. Mason
arrives. Annette distrusts Sass,
believing him to be greedy and self-serving.
Grace Poole - A woman
who answers an advertisement placed by Mrs. Eff
for a servant to look after the deranged Antoinette.
Grace is promised
twice as much as the other household servants as long as she keeps her mouth
shut and guards Antoinette well.
Sharing the same garret space with Antoinette,
frequently, often falling asleep with the garret key in plain view of her
captor and charge.
Leah - The
cook employed by Antoinette's husband.
Leah is one of only three servants who
know about the woman in the attic.
Mrs. Eff - An
incarnation of Mrs. Fairfax and the head housekeeper at Thornfield Hall. While Mrs. Eff
never appears in the novel, Grace
mentions her in her conversation with Leah.
Justine - The
head instructor at the convent school. Mother St. Justine
tells the girls about the lives of female saints, instructs them on manners and
cleanliness, and teaches them how to be proper Christian ladies.
Mannie - A
groom. Mannie is one of the new servants who
brings to Coulibri.
Maillotte - Like Christophine,
a black servant who distinguishes herself by not being Jamaican. Maillotte is Tia's mother and Christophine's only