Today’s Thursday Quotable (OMG I sound like an advertisement!) comes from Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. A seminal feminist text, it examines the life of the madwoman in the attic in Jane Eyre, and examines the imperialistic and anti-feminist subtext that can be found in many canonical texts. (I’m also reading it for university, so this is kind of killing two birds with one stone, for me!)
Here are just a couple of quotes that I underlined whilst reading the book – there’s nothing quite like Rhys’s alternately lush and bleak landscapes.
“The house was burning, the yellow-red sky was like the sunset…Nothing would be left, the golden ferns and the silver ferns, the orchids, the ginger lilies and the roses…When they had finished, there would be nothing left but blackened walls and the mounting stone. That was always left. That could not be stolen or burned.”
This quote is from Mr. Rochester’s point-of-view (although he goes unnamed throughout the entire book).
“I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.”
The final section of the novel is when Bertha is enclosed in the attic – this is definitely an important moment if you know Jane Eyre!
“Your red dress,” she said, and laughed.
But I looked at the dress on the floor and it was as if the fire had spread across the room. It was beautiful and it reminded me of something I must do. I will remember I thought. I will remember quite soon now.”
If you’ve read Wide Sargasso Sea (or Jane Eyre!) please do let me know your thoughts! These quotes can only skim the surface of what is a truly magnificent and thought-provoking novel.