The presence of money-driven motives is predominant throughout the novel and serve to emphasise the consequences of arguments and relationships involving money. The power of money is destructive and consequences of the destruction manifest themselves in the conflicts between people in Wide Sargasso Sea.
Money can be a cause for jealousy and resentment that manifest its consequences in drastic actions that may be potentially devastating. Annette warns Mr Mason that “[they] were something to laugh at” when they were poor “but [they] are not poor now.” The contrast between the Annette’s self-deprecating tone while describing the humiliation they previously suffered when they were poor and her subsequent solemn tone while emphasizing their affluence imply that people will now resent them for their wealth instead of mocking them for their poverty. The affluence of the creole Annette represents the unfulfilled equality when colonialism was abandoned and the Emancipation Act was passed, thus creating resentment. Thus, the change in Annette’s tone connotes the fact that money can be a source of conflict and resentment between the ex-colonial class and the less well-off blacks, ominously foreboding of the culmination of the blacks’ wrath in their act of setting fire to Coulibri.
Emotions aside, the reliance on another person for money leads to the eventual collapse of relationships between people. Annette’s marriage to the ineffectual and naïve Mr Mason is a result of her attempt to escape their situation of being “marooned” without any money to support the indulgent lifestyle of “moonlight picnics” and “dancing” that makes her happy. Mr Mason made the mistake of trusting the blacks who eventually killed Pierre by burning down the house. With the love of money as a motivation and not love for Mr Mason himself, Annette is unable to forgive herself for indirectly causing Pierre’s death through her selfish motives for marrying her husband. The inability to come to terms with the disastrous consequences of her financially-motivated marriage causes her decline into madness and thus, it can be said that the love of money manifests its malignance when it eventually results in the destruction of relationships and in this case, kinship.
Also, financially-motivated people in the novel serve to start a chain of unfortunate events that eventually contributed to the mental decline of the protagonists, Antoinette and Rochester. Daniel Cosway’s act of blackmailing Rochester with the scandalous history of his wife and her family causes “disgust [to rise] in him like sickness”. This implies Rochester’s rising conviction in his cultural prejudice against non-whites. It is this misleading conviction, substantiated by the greed Rochester finds in the financially-motivated creole Daniel Cosway, that acts like a “sickness” within Rochester and drives him towards moral decline as he imprisons Antoinette without any compassion. Rochester’s marriage to Antoinette is one of similar financial motivation due to primogeniture that marginalises him substantially. Without the motivation of money, the marriage would not have materialized and Antoinette might have remained sane and safe in the “convent [which] was [her] refuge.” Thus, monetary greed is a driving force behind people which serves to divide and destructs the protagonists’ states of mind.
That said, it cannot be denied that the power of money is substantial but it is devoid of emotions and thus, its detrimental effects are not a result of inherent malevolence in money but in fact stem from people who wish to wield its power to their advantage. Grace Poole is portrayed as a woman who is almost obsessive over money; Antoinette, even in her state of confusion and instability, notices Grace “counting money” and even noting how “she holds a gold piece in her hand and smiles.” This particular emphasis on Grace’s action characterizes her as someone who feels so attached to money that she personifies it by displaying emotions of affection and happiness in the face of money. Despite Grace’s greed, she is not unsympathetic towards Antoinette and does not “turn [her] back on [Antoinette]”. Even more significantly, she states clearly that she does not “serve the devil for no money”; her diction describing Rochester connotes her disdain towards Rochester and hence, imply her support for Antoinette even though Antoinette appears to be a disgraceful secret of the household. This shows that Grace’s morality is not impaired by her potential source of income. The simultaneous presence of greed and the absence of malice demonstrate that money and evil can also be exclusive of one another.
The recurrence of money in the form of ulterior motives that characters in the novel possess serves to emphasise the destruction and ill-feelings money can bring about. Nevertheless, the greed it rouses in humans may be catalysed by larger forces like the law and inherent prejudice. However, money is after all an unbiased and non-living entity on its own; its power and consequences of the usage is solely dependent on the wielder’s intentions and strength of their morality.