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Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

How can one discover the truth, I thought, and that thought led me nowhere. No one would tell me the truth. Not my father nor Richard Mason, certainly not the girl I had married. I stood still, so sure I was being watched that I looked over my shoulder. Nothing but the trees and the green light under the trees. A track was just visible and I went on, glancing from side to side and sometimes quickly behind me. This was why I stubbed my foot on a stone and nearly fell. The stone I had tripped on was not a boulder but part of a paved road. There had been a paved road through this forest. 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. At the back of the ruins a wild orange tree covered with fruit, the leaves a dark green. A beautiful place.

Almost immediately upon his arrival at Granbois, Rochester begins to question his hastily conceived and financially motivated marriage to Antoinette. Feeling painfully alone and shamefully duped, the young man follows a path from the dilapidated house into the woods, encountering an abandoned old house and losing himself in the overgrowth. Bathed in an eerie green light, the forest surrounds him but withholds its secret. Rochester comes no closer to discovering "the truth," to understanding his wife, or to finding his place on the island. Suffering from paranoia—a feeling that he shares with Antoinette—Rochester senses he is being watched, and the forest becomes a metaphor for his psychological wanderings. Invested with symbols and meanings, the hushed scene projects Rochester's inner world and mysteriously replicates Antoinette's recurring forest nightmare. In both her unconscious mind and his conscious act, a feeling of inevitability and fated doom colors the landscape and pulls them onward. In Rochester's case, the ruins of a stone house prefigure the burned remains of Thornfield Hall, as he unwittingly gazes upon a tragic fate that he himself will engineer. Rhys is thus even-handed in exposing the psychological sufferings of both characters. Rather than focusing primarily on Antoinette's victimhood, Rhys shows the parallel fears and struggles both Antoinette and Rochester face.