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Wide Sargasso Sea

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.

Quote #1

I went to bed early and slept at once. I dreamed that I was walking in the forest. Not alone. Someone who hated me was with me, out of sight. I could hear heavy footsteps coming closer and though I struggled and screamed I could not move. (I.1.3.27)

This passage describes the first instance of Antoinette's recurring nightmare, which is brought on by the events of the day: her fight with Tia and her encounter with her mother's guests, the Luttrells, who will eventually introduce her to her future husband, Mr. Mason. The generally hostile environment of the dream, the threat from an unnamed and unseen stranger, and Antoinette's paralysis all foreshadow Antoinette's eventual confinement in Rochester's English manor.

Quote #2

Again I have left the house at Coulibri. It is still night and I am walking towards the forest. I am wearing a long dress and thin slippers, so I walk with difficulty, following the man who is with me and holding up the skirt of my dress. It is white and beautiful and I don't wish to get it soiled. I follow him, sick with fear, but I make no effort to save myself; if anyone were to try to save me, I would refuse. This must happen. Now we have reached the forest. We are under the tall dark trees and there is no wind. "Here?" He turns and looks at me, his face black with hatred, and when I see this I begin to cry. (I.2.5.24)

Just as Antoinette's first dream precedes Annette's marriage to Mr. Mason, Antoinette's second dream precedes her own impending marriage, this time orchestrated by Mr. Mason. The second dream further elaborates on the first dream. The white dress is a color associated with her mother, who loved wearing white, but the fact that it trails on the floor looks forward to Christophine, who also walks with her dress trailing on the floor, much to Rochester's disapproval (II.3.3.5). As the dream progresses, Antoinette ends up in a garden surrounded by a stone wall and hugs a tree that tries to shake her off. This scene looks ahead to Rochester's comparison of his hatred to a hurricane bending a tree (II.7.12).

Quote #3

Reality might disconcert her, bewilder her, hurt her, but it would not be reality. It would be only a mistake, a misfortune, a wrong path taken, her fixed ideas would never change. (II.3.5.53)

Here, Rochester expresses a rather condescending opinion of Antoinette. He differentiates himself from what he calls her lack of realism, without acknowledging that he too has certain fixed ideas – about women and race, for example – that don't change even if proven otherwise.

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