Dresses take on particular symbolic significance as they suggest wealth and for Antoinette a form of pleasure and memory. They also emphasize the situation she is in. The breakdown of her relationship with Tia is highlighted further, for example, when Tia steals her dress. When she is incarcerated, her red dress evokes memories of the past in the West Indies as it still holds the perfume of that time and place.
Coulibri symbolizes the past wealth of the slave owning Cosways, and in its ruinous state it represents the change in control of the West Indies with the Emancipation Act and the hardening of capitalist mainstays such as justice and legality.
Its final destruction by fire is both a cleansing act as it challenges the wealth based on slavery and is also a pre-cursor of the fire at Thornfield (at Rochester’s home). In this light, the fires in both properties come to symbolize death, cleansing and resistance to the old, dominant order.
When Antoinette is taken to England and kept in Rochester’s house, she does not believe this to be true. England is not real for her, and is only know through books and stories. It is a myth and a dream, and once there it is a nightmare. She is made subject to the rule of the Empire literally in her imprisonment and it is telling that this occurs in England, the so-called mother country.