Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Section.Subsection [if applicable].Paragraph). Wide Sargasso Sea is divided into three parts. Within those parts, the novel does not number sections and subsections. This guide refers to sections if they are marked by an asterisk or some other symbol in the text. Within those sections, the novel indicates subsections by an extra line break.
"I hate [the place] now like I hate you and before I die I will show you how much I hate you." (II.6.6.33)
It's interesting that Antoinette and Rochester never express their love to each other, and Antoinette is more ready to express her love for a place than for a person (see our discussion of Quote #1 in "Identity.") But we also have to wonder how different Antoinette's hatred is from her love for Rochester. She drugged him before he betrayed her with Amélie, just on the mere suspicion that he might leave her. Who needs love like that?
She'll not dress up and smile at herself in that damnable looking-glass […] I'll take her in my arms, my lunatic. She's mad but mine, mine. What will I care for gods or devils or for Fate itself. If she smiles or weeps or both. For me. (II.7.13, 17)
As with Antoinette, Rochester's love doesn't seem to be too different from his hate. For Rochester, both emotions seem to be essentially possessive, appropriative emotions: he wants to own her completely, and her fortune and her body are not enough. He has to own her entire sense of self, but to do that, he has to destroy her sanity.
All the mad conflicting emotions had gone and left me wearied and empty. Sane. […] I hated [the island's] beauty and its magic and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it. (II.8.33-4)
Here we get some insight into how love and hate can be so closely intertwined for Rochester. If he seeks to own Antoinette body and soul, it's to fill a void within himself, his "thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it." Just as Tia indicated for Antoinette what she had lost (a concrete racial identity) before she had found it, Antoinette indicates for Rochester something critical to the way he thinks of himself, something that he didn't know he lacked until he met her. Now what that something might be is a huge question that he doesn't seem to answer or be able to answer, mired as he is in all those "mad conflicting emotions." But even though Rochester is repulsed by Antoinette, he still needs her as a reminder of what that something is. Confusing as this all is, it partly explains why he doesn't just throw her out and washes his hands of her altogether.