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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

Language and Communication Quotes Page 4

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

It is in your mind to pretend she is mad. I know it. The doctors say what you tell them to say. That man Richard he say what you want him to say – glad and willing too, I know. She will be like her mother. You do that for money? But you wicked like Satan self! (II.6.7.98)

Christophine's interest in Antoinette may or may not be purely altruistic, but she seems to have a point here. By virtue of his position in society, Rochester has the medical community on his side, and they have the power to declare Antoinette insane simply by saying so. As a Creole, a woman, and now declared mentally ill, Antoinette is triply subordinated to Rochester's will.

Quote #11

Very soon she'll join all the others who know the secret and will not tell it. Or cannot. Or try and fail because they do not know enough. They can be recognized. White faces, dazed eyes, aimless gestures, high-pitched laughter […] I too can wait – for the day when she is only a memory to be avoided, locked away, and like all memories a legend. Or a lie. (II.8.36)

Rochester has learned Antoinette's lesson (in Quote #5 above) about lies a little too well. The "secret" of who she really is doesn't matter; it's her legend that matters. It's hard not to see here a wink at Jane Eyre, where Bertha is just such a "memory to be avoided, locked away." But before we buy into Rochester as the quintessential all-powerful European male too quickly, shouldn't we consider how Rochester seems to be borrowing the techniques of the people around him – Antoinette, Christophine? He seems to be affected by their way of looking at the world – you could say taking the very words out of their mouths, no? What's that all about?

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