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.
"Then she cursed me comprehensively, my eyes, my mouth, every member of my body, and it was like a dream in the large unfurnished room with the candles flickering and this red-eyed wild-haired stranger who was my wife shouting obscenities at me." (II.6.6.41)
Rochester again feels as if he's in a dream, in an extraordinary situation that doesn't seem real. The subtext here is that Rhys is taking some of the words verbatim from Jane Eyre: is Jane Eyre then the "dream" in which all the characters are trapped?
So I shall never understand why, suddenly, bewilderingly, I was certain that everything I had imagined to be truth was false. False. Only the magic and the dream are true – all the rest's a lie. Let it go. Here is the secret. Here. (II.8.6)
Rochester has a brief epiphany about his life on the island. The fixed ideas – about his situation, Antoinette, the Caribbean – that were so entrenched in Quotes #3 and #6 seem to evaporate: he recognizes that what he believed to be "true" is actually only "imagined." Instead of approaching things as a rational, calculating, man, he has to learn to work with the "magic and the dream," whatever that means. We never find out, as the epiphany is short-lived and he's back to hating Antoinette.
Only I know how long I have been here. Nights and days and days and nights, hundreds of them slipping through my fingers. But that does not matter. Time has no meaning. But something you can touch and hold like my red dress, that has a meaning. (III.4.30)
Trapped in the attic, isolated from the world, Antoinette eschews conventional ways of thinking about space and time. Time isn't an abstract concept, but something you can finger, like a dress. Antoinette's musings here suggest that there are other, equally valid ways of understanding reality that might seem alien or just plain crazy to someone like Rochester.