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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

  

by Jean Rhys

Red Dress, White Dress

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

To all the fashionistas out there, you know how you feel when you've got the dress on. It could be vintage couture or an absolute steal you picked up at some post-post-clearance sale, but it fits you just right in all the right places. Men want you and women want to be you – or know where you bought it. For Antoinette, that dress is her red dress. It symbolizes her femininity, and, infused with the fragrance of Caribbean flowers and spices, it also symbolizes her Creole identity. It has an almost magical power to revive her in Part III, and the fact that it looks like a fire when it's spread out on the floor suggests one way that she can wreak her revenge on Rochester. The white dress, on the other hand, is associated with male dominance, rather than feminine chastity or wedded bliss. White is the color favored by her mother, and white is the color of the dress Antoinette wears in her nightmare.

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