Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea Versions of Reality 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 had reached the forest and you cannot mistake the forest. It is hostile. The path was overgrown but it was possible to follow it […] The track led to a large clear space. Here were the ruins of a stone house and round the ruins rose trees that had grown to an incredible height […] I was lost and afraid among these enemy trees, so certain of danger that when I heard footsteps and a shout I did not answer. The footsteps and the voice came nearer. (II.4.3.2-3)
What's odd about reading this passage out of context is that it sounds like one of Antoinette's dreams, but it's not – it's Rochester, the same guy who dismissed her version of reality in Quote #3 above. And the passage doesn't describe a dream, but his actual experience getting lost in the forests around Granbois.
I must know more than I know already. For I know that house where I will be cold and not belonging, the bed I shall lie in has red curtains, and I have slept there many times before, long ago. How long ago? In that bed I will dream the end of my dream. But my dream had nothing to do with England and I must not think like this, I must remember about chandeliers and dancing, about swans and roses and snow. (II.5.1.26)
Antoinette's musings here foreshadow her eventual confinement in England in Part III of the novel. But it also brings up some interesting questions about her control over her own fate. How can she "foretell" the future? Why must these things happen to her, or does she have the power to change her destiny?
There would be the sky and the mountains, the flowers and the girl and the feeling that all this was a nightmare, the faint consoling hope that I might wake up. (II.6.1.9)
Again, Rochester doesn't seem to acknowledge how similar he is to Antoinette with his fixed ideas. Rochester, like Antoinette, seems to be able to predict what's going to happen, as he "predicts" that Amélie is going to appear before him. Of course, he also called her to him, so no real mystery there. For Rochester, predictions confirm his sense of mastery over a situation, in contrast to Antoinette, who is terrified by what she foresees. He knows Amélie is going to appear because he has control over her. He's not surprised when he receives Daniel's letter because it confirms what he already suspects. If everything feels like a "nightmare," it's partly because the nightmare is his own creation.