Dramatisation of Jean Rhys's novel set in 19th-century Jamaica. The tragic story of the first Mrs Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre centres on an arranged marriage.
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This programme contains some scenes of a sexual nature.
KEYS RATTLE ON CHAIN
DOOR UNLOCKS AND CREAKS OPEN
No more tricks from you. > No more escapes.
You're to stay here safe and sound, behind these nice thick walls.
Better off, if you ask me.
The world outside is a dark and cold one for a woman.
When are we going to England?
This is England.
'You've nothing to be afraid of.'
'I'll keep you safe.'
-Edward, what ARE you doing?
-It's just that... Is everything on this island designed to prick, bite or sting?
I'm sure my discomfort will be a great source of amusement to my father also.
-His laughter must echo in Piccadilly.
His concern is to see you make something of yourself.
I assure you, Richard, my father's sole concern is maintaining the reputation of the Rochester name.
A task which falls almost entirely on my brother.
-A man's good name can be his greatest asset.
How soon do you want to, um...?
I need to rest.
I found the voyage...arduous.
Of course. Rest.
Gather your strength.
We want you to make a good impression, after all.
-I wasn't aware I was required to impress, Richard.
-Not required. No.
But I'm sure you will anyway... when you've rested.
KNOCK AT DOOR
Richard. You are unusually punctual.
Allow me to introduce a friend, from England, Edward Rochester.
Edward, the redoubtable Mrs Harper.
An honour, Ma'am.
And my step-sister, Antoinette Cosway.
It's a pleasure to meet you. Richard has spoken of you often.
-Oh, yes. Only in the most glowing terms!
I see he did not exaggerate.
Oh, you are very gracious.
My father was very fond of Edward, Antoinette.
He was keen that you two should meet.
Well, I'm only sorry that he cannot be here to introduce us himself.
That is my great regret also.
Mr Mason's passing was a tragedy for all of us, Mr Rochester.
He leaves a space which is impossible to fill.
Sit down. The girl will bring us some tea presently.
Have you been on the island long, Mr Rochester?
A week or so. But I'm afraid I've been confined to bed.
A fever struck me down the moment I landed.
Yes. This climate finds the weakness in the strongest of constitutions.
Which is why you spend so little time here, isn't it?
It's very unfortunate to travel so far
and then fall sick when you arrive.
To be honest, it now seems a small price to pay.
All my life, I've looked at pictures of England.
And I try to imagine what it must be like but I find it impossible.
'As it was impossible for me to imagine Jamaica...until I arrived.
'I have a friend who married an Englishman.
'She writes to me about it. She says England is like a dream.
'I have to say that's precisely how your island seems to me.
'Unreal, like a dream.'
But how can these rivers and mountains and seas be unreal?
Well, how can millions of people and thousands of buildings and streets seem like a dream?
'Oh, Easily. Much more easily. A big city must be like a dream.
'More than your small island?'
Do you still think you're dreaming, Mr Rochester?
'I'm not sure, Miss Cosway.'
Perhaps you're not quite over your fever yet.
Perhaps I'm not quite ready to wake yet.
Didn't I say it would be beautiful?
-You were right.
-I'm trying to win you over. So you won't miss home so.
Then it's working. I am won.
I knew this place would do it.
It's one of my favourites.
-Just one of them?
-There are places even more beautiful than this.
-I'd like to know where.
We have a summerhouse in the mountains. It's better than here.
-It's better than anywhere.
-Perhaps I'll get to see it one day.
Well, perhaps, one day, I'll show you.
Didn't Richard mention something about a plantation, as well?
Yes, once, a long time ago. It was my father's.
-He was a slave owner?
-Yes. Before the emancipation.
It's hard to imagine how any Christian found slavery acceptable.
It's just how things were then.
He died and we were alone there.
And then my mother remarried... to Mr Mason.
-So you ended up in Spanish Town?
-I did. She died.
And afterwards, Mr Mason travelled but he provided for me
-and I boarded at the convent school.
-Oh, I'm sorry.
Don't be. They were kind to me.
And I stayed with Aunt Cora sometimes, when she was here.
It seems unjust you should suffer in so short a life.
But it was all so long ago.
We mustn't let it spoil today.
Do you have family?
And an elder brother.
I'm the second son.
That's why I'm here.
Well, my older brother will inherit the title and the estate.
The second son must make his own way.
Ah! So you've come to the islands to seek your fortune?
-Like the pirates used to!
-Yes. I suppose so. In a way.
But that's exciting! You should be happy, not downcast.
Especially not on such a glorious afternoon.
It is magnificent.
I feel like I could fly.
Like I could...
spread my arms and take to the sky like a bird.
-What would you do then?
-Stay firmly on the ground.
Ready to catch you, should you fall.
-So, are you decided?
-She's in no position to refuse.
-Neither am I. Well, then, why wait?
Why are you so eager to be rid of her?
I'm only eager to see my father's ambitions fulfilled.
It seems we're both toiling under the same yoke.
Edward, the truth is, the sooner SHE is rid of me the better.
I'm no guardian.
I don't have the same qualities Father saw in you.
You're asking me to be her husband, not her guardian.
Does it seem so onerous? She's not unattractive.
-She's lovely. A delight.
-And there's the dowry.
Yes, of course. The dowry.
Your father thought it generous.
My father is as eager to wash his hands of me as you are to be rid of her.
You are an honest, decent man.
Part of a fine and upright family. Antoinette'll be glad of your name.
You are exactly what she needs.
You'll ask her?
"Dear Father, All is well and has gone according to your plans and wishes.
"I am to be married to Mr Mason's step-daughter.
"£30,000 will be paid to me without question or condition."
"This modest competence means I will never be a disgrace
"to you or to my dear brother, the son you love
"No begging letters. No mean requests.
"None of the furtive, shabby manoeuvres of a younger son."
To my lovely step-sister, Antoinette,
and my dear friend, Edward.
"I have sold my soul.
"Or you have sold it.
"It is, perhaps, not such a bad bargain.
"The girl is thought to be beautiful. No, she is beautiful.
It's Richard I'm angry with.
He's left you no financial provision of your own.
Your step-father left money to ensure security.
That fool has no right to hand it away to someone else.
-I'll have nothing of my own?
-But I have Edward.
You need security...
What? For when my marriage fails?
I'm not at the altar yet and you already anticipate disaster!
I thought you would be happy for me.
It is not my happiness you should be concerned with.
Are you so sure that I'm making a mistake?
You are young and pretty, Antoinette.
-You have no need to throw yourself at the first gentleman who comes along.
-I am not throwing myself.
-I care for Edward.
You're seeing nothing but stars. You have to look cold and hard.
You have to see how he will be with you.
You must be sure. Absolutely sure. You are young. Time is on your side. Use it.
Wait a little. Until you truly know. Until you are certain.
What's wrong? Have I done something to upset you?
-Then why don't you want us to be married?
Afraid of what?
Of what might happen.
-You've no reason to be afraid.
-I want to believe that's true.
-It is true. When we're together, aren't we happy?
And can't you see I am too?
I thought I could.
-But why do you seem different with other people?
-What other people?
And Aunt Cora.
Your Aunt Cora is very cold to me.
You know that.
She doesn't want to lose you.
It's understandable but you can see how it makes things difficult for me.
Richard is a man.
We laugh and joke and tell stories. That's what men do.
We don't speak the way you and I do.
Not from the heart.
Of course I'm different with others. It's only with you I am myself.
You don't know anything about me.
You don't know anything about me.
I know you make me happy.
I know I want to marry you.
Take care of you.
I could say you don't know anything about me.
But you know how you feel, don't you?
Then isn't that enough?
Shouldn't we trust that?
Isn't that what marriage is... that bargain?
That I'll trust you, if you trust me.
Do you trust me?
Then you have nothing to be afraid of.
I will make you happy,
I will keep you safe.
I will give you...
everything you need.
Can you give me peace?
I promise you.
I promise you.
You won't change your mind?
I would ask you the same question.
PEOPLE CHATTER IN HUSHED VOICES
VOICES CONTINUE MUTTERING
CHURCH BELLS PEAL IN DISTANCE
Here we are, at last!
They're all waiting.
Your luggage in your room, everything ready for you.
Oh, thank you.
Now that you are here - this is my favourite place in the whole world.
This is Rose.
And this is Christophine,
who was my nurse...long ago.
Come, let me show you the house.
-The air is sweet.
Ah, everything is sweet here. This is our sweet honeymoon house.
-You look like an emperor!
-You'll like it here.
-What's through there?
That's your dressing room.
This was old Mr Mason's room.
-It's very comfortable.
-He didn't like it.
It can get cold at night.
I hope you'll be very happy, sir,
in your sweet honeymoon house.
What is it?
Your dress suits you.
It was made in St Pierre, Martinique.
-You say that as if it were Paris.
-It's the Paris of the West Indies.
So what do you think of Granbois?
-It's very beautiful.
-I love it.
As if it were a person.
More than a person. I...
I love it more than anywhere in the world.
Well, you don't know the rest of the world.
Is the rest of the world more beautiful?
..it's just different.
'We used to come in the summer to get away from the hot weather.'
I came with Aunt Cora.
That was after the...
No sad stories. Not tonight.
When it was very hot, I'd sneak out onto the veranda
and fall asleep in the hammock.
Christophine didn't like that.
She said it was very bad
to sleep in the light of a full moon.
Christophine sounds like an old witch!
I sometimes think she might be right.
Maybe I have slept too long in the moonlight.
You don't think that, do you?
The air here is so scented.
Hmm. It's the flowers...
by the river...
they only open up at night.
Whoever heard of such a thing?
And all the days after.
Now I am your wife.
And I am Christopher Columbus, on the shores of a New World.
You are my undiscovered country and I claim you!
KNOCK AT DOOR
We wake early here.
The morning is the best time.
Bull's Blood, master.
-Not horse piss, like them English ladies drink.
I know them.
Drink, drink their yellow horse piss. Talk, talk their lying talk.
Her coffee is delicious but her language is disgusting.
-It doesn't mean anything.
-And why is she dressed like that?
They dress like that for feast days.
-Is today a feast day?
-She wanted it to be. For us.
You skim stones as well as a boy.
-It was a boy who taught me.
There's so much about you I don't know.
-You know more of me than anyone.
-I want to know everything.
Well, then, it's lucky we have so much time.
-You should get dressed.
-Why? Don't you like me like this?
Someone might come.
No-one comes here. Besides, we're not doing anything wrong. We're married.
Which is why you should get dressed.
-Is England very different?
When I was a girl, we had pictures of England.
I used to think, if only I could go there.
Everything would be different.
I'd be a different person.
I'd be safe and sound.
You are safe and sound.
It must be strange.
After summer, the trees grow bare.
What's snow like? Hmm?
I can't imagine it.
You'll not have to imagine it.
You'll see for yourself.
I dream about it sometimes.
What do you dream?
What do you dream?
Swans and roses.
Here...let me cover you up.
-The breeze can be cold.
-What about you?
I need to get dressed. For dinner.
I want to look my best.
-Why don't you wear the other one.
Yes. That one. I prefer that one.
-I could get another made, exactly the same.
-I'd like that.
-And how do you prefer my hair?
Away from your neck and shoulders.
Exactly like that.
You feel how fast you make my heart beat?
ANTOINETTE'S LAUGH ECHOES
Books no good here.
I wouldn't imagine you'd have much use for them anyway.
Read and write, I don't know. Other things I know.
-What, like how to spy on people?
-The door open.
That how everybody know everybody else's business.
Well, my business is my own.
-I expect it to stay that way.
-I just tell you the truth.
You can't close your doors, learn to close your ears.
-What are you digging for?
What, from your pirates?
The islands used to be full of them.
-A long time ago.
-Yes, but there are still traces...
if you look hard enough.
-What kind of traces?
All sorts of precious things,
buried in secret spots.
-And does anyone ever find any treasure?
-Yes. But they never tell.
They want to keep it all, so they don't speak of it.
And they only sell to men who don't ask questions. Everyone knows but no one will tell.
These islands sometimes seem to be held together entirely by secrets!
Secrets and treasure.
-Do you think I'll ever uncover any?
-Oh, I'm certain of it.
-And what should I do then?
-Never tell. Never tell.
'I never wished to live before I knew you.
'I always thought it would be better if I died.'
How did you do that to me?
I wished it, that's all.
What if, one day, you didn't wish it?
What if you... What would I do then?
What if you took this happiness away again?
And lose my own? I'd never be so foolish.
I'm not used to happiness.
It makes me afraid.
Don't be afraid.
I'll keep you safe.
If I could die now, when I'm happy.
Would you do that? You could. Just say it and watch me.
Say die and I will die.
Who are you?
My name is Cosway, Sir. Like your wife's. Daniel Cosway.
Your wife's father also my father.
-I am your wife's brother by another lady.
-What do you want?
To help you, Sir. I fear that you have been deceived.
Cosway a wicked family. Slave owners.
But wickedness not the worst. There's madness too.
-Madness? What are you talking about?
-It's in all these white Creole.
Your wife's mother marry old Cosway. He die raving and cursing.
She marry again and try kill her husband. He have to keep her shut away.
-But my wife's mother died years ago.
-Lies, Sir. They tell you lies.
You don't believe me? Ask Richard Mason three simple questions.
Ask if your wife's mother a raging lunatic.
Ask him if your wife going the same way.
And ask him if they all knowing it.
Money is good, Sir.
-But no money can pay for a crazy woman in your bed.
-You're talking about my wife!
There's more you should know.
The girl Amelie know me.
You come see me.
What? What is it?
-You got a look says you're happy.
Then now is a good time for me to go look after my own house.
-What do you mean? You mean leave here?
The young master don't like me.
If I stay here, I bring a bone of contention in your house.
But what am I to do without you?
You do fine.
You got to stand on your own feet, girl.
Women must have guts in this wicked world.
You're decided then?
Be strong, Dou-dou. Be strong.
Edward, Christophine is leaving.
-Best for me to go now.
-Is something wrong?
Amelie, smile like that once more and I mash your face like a plantain.
And maybe I give you a bellyache, make you lie down a long time.
You hear me?
-You have no right to threaten her.
-She good for nothing.
-Creep and crawl like a centipede.
-It's as well you decided to leave.
-Remember, I am close by.
-What mood is this?
-My head is perfectly clear.
Do you take after your mother, do you think?
Do you look like her?
-I don't know. I hadn't...
-She must've been young when she died.
She must've been beautiful. Do you remember?
-How old were you when she passed away?
You seem unsure.
No. I was eleven. It was a long time ago.
Why do you seem like a stranger today?
Me strange? You're in nightclothes.
You should go and get dressed, or go to your room.
-Why are you speaking to me like this?
-It's not normal to wear nightclothes in the day.
-Whose business is it what I wear?
-I'm your husband.
-My husband, not my gaoler.
-It's not appropriate.
You should get dressed, or go to your room.
What is it? What?
Water, master. I thought maybe the mistress want to wash.
Do you know what happened to the mistress's mother?
I been told it's not right for me to talk about such things.
What things? I want you to tell me.
It's just what I hear.
I can't say it true or not.
Tell me what you hear.
I hear the lady go mad.
I hear she try and kill her husband.
So they lock her away and forget her.
-Should I go in now, sir?
-Go ahead. Take it in. Let her wash.
Leave me alone.
Creole woman like you, you always alone.
Your husband outside there.
He look like zombie. Maybe he tired of your sweet honeymoon?
Too much sweet make a person sick in the stomach.
Sick in the head sometimes too.
Don't you speak to me like that, do you hear me! Don't you speak to me like that!
You white cockroach!
Antoinette! What are you doing!
Go away, girl.
She's as old as the devil himself!
-What's happened to you?
-To me? You attacked that girl?
-You side with her? I side with no-one.
-I judge for myself.
She called me a white cockroach.
That's what they call me. Or, or, or White Nigger.
Cos I'm a Creole.
Not like them but I'm not English like you.
Between the two of you, I sometimes wonder who I am myself!
Now, will you please go? I need to get dressed.
The girl tell me you're ready to see me.
I know you a man who recognise the truth.
And the truth shall set you free.
You told me there was more I should know about my situation.
You know what I say was no lie.
Other people say things behind your back
but to your face they get frightened.
There is that woman at your house, Christophine.
What about her?
She's obeah woman.
-She make bad magic.
She will lie to you worse than your wife.
I don't have to please no woman.
My brother different, though.
He marry a fair coloured girl.
His son, Sandi, like a white man...
..only more handsome.
Your wife know Sandi long time.
Ask her. She tell you.
But not everything, I think.
No. Not everything.
I see them when they think nobody see them.
They fool you well about that girl.
Must be you deaf. You don't hear people laugh when you marry her.
She start with Sandi.
You want me to shut my mouth? You want to do everything quiet, like the English do?
If I keep my mouth shut, it seems to me you owe me something.
What's £500 to you?
If I don't get the money I want, you'll see what I can do!
Give my love to your wife for me!
Kiss her pretty white face!
You're not the first. You're not the first!
Please don't be angry.
Please...please forgive me.
-Whatever I've done to upset you.
Have you done anything?
I must have done.
Why else would you be so cold with me?
But you don't know?
Well, then, please tell me. Let me put it right.
Please, let me be your sweet Antoinette again.
I don't like that name.
I never have. It's too complex.
I'd like to think of you as something else.
-What do you mean?
-That's my name.
-I'll think of another.
A proper English name.
One that suits you.
My name is Antoinette!
My name is Antoinette!
MY NAME IS ANTOINETTE!
MY NAME IS ANTOINETTE!
-My name is Antoinette!
'He doesn't love me, Christophine.
'He sleeps in the other room.
'He doesn't talk to me.'
'I can't stand it. What do I do?'
When man don't love you, more you try, more he hate you.
No, I can't leave him. I couldn't bear it.
A man don't treat you good, pick up your skirt and walk out.
You do it and he come after you. Specially rich white girl like you.
No. He won't come after me. I'm not rich.
I don't have anything.
He has everything.
What you tell me?
That's English Law.
You know what I want.
No, Dou-dou. Bad, bad trouble come when you meddle with that.
If the man don't love you, I can't make him.
Yes, you can. I know you can.
If you could make him come to me just once more.
Just...just one night. I know...
I know I could make him love me.
The man hear stories. He don't know what to believe. That is why he keep away.
Do battle for yourself now.
Tell him about your mother and all what happened to her.
Tell him why she got sick and what they do to her.
Don't bawl, don't make crazy faces, and no crying either.
Crying's no good with him. Speak to him calm and cool.
-Tell him the truth.
-It's too late for that.
-Never too late for that.
If I do as you say...
..then will you give me what I asked for?
I went to see Christophine this morning.
What did she have to say?
She told me I should leave you.
I told her you seem to hate me and that was her advice.
I don't hate you.
I'm very concerned about you.
Why do you treat me like this?
Is there a reason?
Is your mother alive?
When did she die?
-So you lied to me.
No, no, it wasn't a lie.
She died two deaths.
The real one when I was young
and then the one at the end.
-I heard about your mother.
-I know, people always tell lies about her.
-They, they, they tell stories and they won't listen to the other side.
-Is there another side?
-There's always another side.
-I heard that your mother...
I know what you heard!
That my mother was mad.
-And that I must be too.
-And is it true? About your mother?
No. I... It's difficult!
We don't need to talk about it tonight.
-We must talk about it tonight.
-Not tonight. Another time.
No other time. Now.
You have no right to ask me questions about my mother and then not listen to me.
I'll listen to you.
If that's what you want, I'll listen to all you have to say.
They say when trouble comes,
And so the white people did.
But we were not in their ranks.
They did not approve of my mother.
We were alone and poor for five years after my father died.
It is a long time to live like that.
She was so lonely, she grew away from people.
Then, one day, everything changed. Suddenly there were people again.
Visitors. And then Mr Mason.
So why did you leave the plantation?
We were driven out.
They burned the house to the ground.
-The fire killed my brother, Pierre, and in a way my mother died too that night.
-Death number one?
She'd lost Pierre and she blamed Mr Mason.
She wouldn't let him near her.
He said she tried to kill him.
He bought a house and hired a man and woman to keep her there and look after her.
So she did go mad?
They told me she was ill and she had gone to the country.
They wanted me to forget her.
But I'm not a forgetting person.
So what did you do?
One day I went to visit her.
I could hear her crying,
so I ran onto the veranda where I could see into the room.
She was wearing an evening dress,
cut very low, and she was barefoot.
And there was a fat, black man...
the one Mr Mason had hired.
He had a glass of rum
and he said,
"Drink. Drink and you'll forget."
And she drank it all without stopping.
Then he grabbed her and kissed her.
His mouth, hard on hers.
And she didn't even struggle.
And I remember...
And...I ran away and I never went back.
Well, there it is.
That's the truth.
Is it too late for that?
Your hands are cold.
You've been sat here too long.
It's late. We can talk things over tomorrow.
And all the days after.
-Will you come in and say goodnight to me?
If you wish.
We are letting ghosts destroy us.
We've forgotten how to live.
Drink and you'll... and you'll remember.
Bring me something to eat.
What are you doing?
Fixing you better.
I am sorry for you.
Sorry for me?
EDWARD GRUNTS, AMELIE SIGHS
THEY THUD AGAINST THE DOOR
Here we are, it's a present.
So what will you do now?
My sister's in Demerara.
I go see her.
You're too beautiful to be a dressmaker.
Maybe I go to Rio.
Plenty of rich men in Rio.
Rio's a long way away from Christophine?
Are you still sorry for me?
I'm sorry for you.
But I am sorry for her too.
-What are you doing?
-Having a drink.
-Do you think that's wise?
Do you think you can stop me?
Is she prettier than me?
Is that why you're trying to turn me into someone else?
You married the wrong kind?
You like the... you like the coloured girls better?
You talk so much about how you don't like slavery
-and then get up to the same tricks when you get a chance.
-It's hardly the same.
-Oh, isn't it?
-You send the girl away quicker and with less money!
-Slavery was not a matter of liking or disliking.
-It was a question of justice.
Oh, that's a cold word.
A damn, cold lie.
There is no justice.
I loved this place.
I loved it with all my heart.
And now you've made it a place I hate.
I used to think if I lost everything, I would still have this.
But now I have nothing. And I hate it. Like I hate you.
And I swear, before I die, I will show you just how much.
Don't you love me - even a little?
Go on. Try and touch me. Just once.
-Hush up now! Crying's no good with him.
I told you before. Crying's no good.
I hope you satisfied. I hope you well satisfied!
You will burn for what you do to her.
"Father, you've succeeded.
"Did you plan this to make a fool of me?
"I was young, conceited, foolish and trusting.
"Above all, I was young.
"I am not young now.
"There is a cool wind blowing. A cold wind.
"Words rush through my head.
"Pity is one of them.
"Is there none for me?
"Tied to a lunatic for life.
"That blank, hating face.
"I'll watch for one tear, one human tear.
"If she weeps, or smiles...
"I will take her in my arms.
"My beautiful lunatic.
"What will I care for gods...
"or devils, or for fate itself,
"if she smiles...for me?"
Baptiste has the horses ready.
The carriage will meet us in town and the luggage will follow in days.
-Where are we going?
And what will happen in England?
You are not well. I will consult with doctors and follow their advice.
Doctors will say whatever you tell them to.
I want what's best for you. You must trust me.
How can I? I know nothing about you.
If it's to be hell,
let it be hell.
No more false heavens.
No more damned magic.
You hate me.
But we will see who hates best.
'They tell me I am in England but I don't believe them.
'We lost our way to England.'
'I fell asleep and when I woke we were in colder waters...'
'We had crossed the wide Sargasso Sea....
'..but we changed course and lost our way.
'This is not England.'
'But I know now why I'm here.'
'I know what I must do.'
Subtitles by Laura Jones Red Bee Media Ltd 2006
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Dramatisation of Jean Rhys's novel set in 19th-century Jamaica. The tragic story of the first Mrs Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre centres on an arranged marriage between a white Creole heiress and a brooding Englishman, who fall in love only to be torn apart by rumours, paranoia and a cultural divide.