Part three, section 7

Wide Sargasso Sea pages 122 - 124: Antoinette's third dream ... The flaming candle

Synopsis of part three, section 7

The third of Antoinette's dream sequences. In this one she gets out of her room again and, with a candle in her hand, moves around the house. As this is a dream, she confuses Thornfield Hall with her Aunt Cora's house. In her dream, she knocks down some candles and sets fire to the house. Having climbed up to the battlements to escape the flames, she sits and images of her childhood come back to her. These are confused with a premonition of Rochester's behaviour when he tries to rescue her from the real fire to come. She screams and wakes up.

She must have screamed so that Grace Poole could hear her because her keeper checks that she is still asleep. Antoinette feigns sleep and then, when Grace Poole is asleep herself, she gets up and takes a candle. Full of resolution, she sets out to burn down Thornfield Hall.

Commentary on part three, section 7

  • Antoinette's belief that a female ghost inhabits Thornfield is a reversal of the situation in Jane Eyre where Jane thinks there is a ghost.
  • There is a direct reference to the large drawing room at Thornfield Hall, described in  Jane Eyre > Chapter 11 as having red carpet and curtains.Battlements, photo by Mike Quinn, available through Creative Commons
  • In Jane Eyre the final image of Bertha is of her figure on the battlements with her hair streaming in the wind.
  • Antoinette seems disassociated from what may be her own reflection in a framed mirror.
  • The help Antoinette alludes to is a reference to Christophine's magic powers.
  • The roof of Thornfield Hall has a wall or parapet, like a castle's battlements.
  • Stephanotis is a twining evergreen with white, heavily fragrant flowers.
  • Jasmine is a climbing plant with white, fragrant flowers
  • The burning tree recalls the description of the garden at Coulibri in part one, section 2 and refers to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden symbolising access to eternal life. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God (known as the fall of humankind - see also Tree of Knowledge), they were expelled from the garden and no longer had access to the Tree of Life.
  • Antoinette dreams the final scene on the roof when a man (Rochester) calls her and her hair flies in the wind. See Jane Eyre > Vol. 3, Chap 10.

Investigating part three, section 7

  • What does Antoinette mean when she says that gold is the idol they worship?
    • Who are ‘they'?
  • As Antoinette sits dreaming on the battlements she sees important images from her childhood
    • Make a list of these images and notes on the significance of each.
  • What is Tia's role in this dream?
  • How would you describe Antoinette's feelings in the final lines once she is awake?
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