Wide Sargasso Sea
How we cite our quotes:
I learnt to say very quickly as the others did, "offer up all the prayers, works and sufferings of this day." But what about happiness, I thought at first, is there no happiness? There must be. Oh happiness, of course, happiness, well. But I soon forgot about happiness. (I.2.5.1)
At the convent, Antoinette questions the overwhelming emphasis on happiness as possible only in the afterlife – i.e., after death, in heaven.
The saints we hear about were all very beautiful and wealthy. All loved by rich and handsome young men. […] and [Mother St. Justine] slides on to order and chastity, that flawless crystal that, once broken, can never be mended. (I.2.4.2-3)
As part of her religious education, Antoinette hears a lot of stories about young maidens who choose a life "married" to their God as opposed to hot young men. These stories reinforce what she learned from her mother's unhappy marriage to Mr. Mason: romantic love isn't possible, and sexual desire can only corrupt and degrade.
"I'll trust you if you'll trust me. Is that a bargain?" (II.2.26)
We feel compelled to repeat here that maybe Rochester isn't such a terrible guy. (Doesn't really help the novel if he's just a one-sided, flat-out-mean villain, right?) In an honorable mood, Rochester touches on the one thing that Antoinette and he both need if their marriage is to survive: mutual trust. Of course, the rest of the novel is just a long series of betrayals, but at least he made an effort.