The Romance of Judgement Day
"Soon we were back in the shifting shadows outside, more beautiful than any perpetual light could be, and soon I learnt to gabble without thinking as the others did. About changing now and the hour of our death for that is all we have."
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Antoinette Mason blows me away in this passage. The simplicity that she states such a religiously loaded philosophy baffled me. (Really, I'm serious - blown away.)
Now, and the hour of our death, that is the only time we have.
That cuts out almost all future dealings, beyond the ultimate. Live for the present moment and for when you die. The old saying "you can sleep when you're dead" keeps running through my head . . . What does this kind of sentiment really make of Antoinette's character though? Is she so mindful and desirous of death that there is no future but death? I haven't finished Wide Sargasso Sea yet, but, as I've read Jane Eyre, I know the ending.
Is this a kind of foreshadowing that I'm just picking up on now?
Posted by Diana Geleskie at October 20, 2007 8:01 PM
To be honest, that's the impression I got too--that Antoinette is "so mindful and desirous of death that there is no future but death." I think she actually stated at another point that she wanted to die. She doesn't really seem to be all that happy. I guess the idea of peace after death--eternal life in heaven--is so appealing to her that she doesn't want to wait. And yes, I do think this is a kind of foreshadowing.
I like the fact that Rhys has humanized Antoinette and given a reason for her lunacy. So we may not agree with her actions in the end (I have also not finished the book, but we all know how it ends). I believe Antoinette and Jane, had they met under different circumstances, could have been great friends. After all, they lived such similar lives. But Jane had tougher skin than Antoinette; she learned to deal with the misery. Antoinette cracked under the pressure of her own life, which was totally understandable.
The foreshadowing in this book is excellent. I would have known that Antoinette would meet a tragic end even if I hadn't read Jane Eyre beforehand. I don't any person reading the book has to necessarily read Jane Eyre first.