I think it’s interesting to connect Antoinette’s mother, Annette, to Jane Eyre and Jane’s experience with sexism and being a woman in the novel. In Wide Sargasso Sea, similar to Jane Eyre, women are primarily dependent on their husbands and men. For instance, when Antoinette’s father has an affair, Annette’s life is deemed “ruined” by the embarrassment and talk of society surrounding the alleged affair. Comparative to Jane, much of her power stems from what she as a woman is permitted to do.
The actions of men, in both Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jane Eyre, ultimately have a long-lasting impact on the lives of women regardless if they have done anything at all. For instance, when Mr. Rochester turned out to already be married, Jane is subject to the humiliation of trying to marry an already married man. Why is this the same with Annette in Wide Sargasso Sea? Why must she pay the price of her previous husband’s decision to have an affair? Why is her life deemed “ruined” because of his actions, simply because she married him to obtain the only societal power she was permitted to have?
Circling back to Jane Eyre, I would almost consider being a woman in both of these novels to compare to a sort of binding. Being a woman in both of these works is inherently a life sentence of paying for your husband’s mistakes and being helpless. Your only power is through a man. Like the “Red-Room” in Jane Eyre, being a woman is a “punishment” the way that Jane was locked away by her Aunt.