The letters that Rochester receives give him details about her family and her past. Like the fact that her mother was mad, and she apparently tried to kill her husband. Antoinette is headed down the same path.
Because this section was narrated by Rochester and I had a better idea of what was going on, it was much easier to follow.
The marriage of Rochester and Antoinette was awkward at first, with neither person completely comfortable. However, a few days later, they both seem to relax and let their guard down, becoming at least friends. There was also something more in that they both desired each other. Rochester is still skeptical and apprehensive. He repeats “Not now. Not yet,” as if he is waiting for the right moment to act on something.
During the day everything is fine. At night, however, Antoinette seems to slip into madness, which scares Rochester. Because he doesn’t trust Antoinette or her servants, Rochester takes to sleeping in his dressing room. Antoinette wants to love him, but Rochester doesn’t see her as an equal or actually love her, so he stays away.
As if their relationship was strained enough, Rochester begins receiving strange letters with information about Antoinette and her family. He isn’t sure what to make of these, so he ignores them at first.
In English today, I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t the only one having trouble following Wide Sargasso Sea. We discussed that it may be a series of vignettes because A) Either Bertha is trying to write her story while she is locked in Rochester’s attic and she fades in and out of reality due to her madness, or B) because Antoinette is remembering things from her childhood, and no memory is perfect.
I actually started from the beginning because I figured it wouldn’t make much sense if I started in the middle. It didn’t help much. Here’s what’s on the back:
Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Set in the Caribbean, it’s heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.
I know that the point of view switches between Antoinette and Rochester, but beyond that, I’m not sure I know what is going on. I read it, but I can’t make any sense of it. Hopefully it will make sense when we go over it in class tomorrow. I’ll share what I learn.