The our true fears and desires manifest.

The skeletal structure of Wide Sargasso Sea is created through Antoinette’s dreams.

Sigmund Freud, one of the first people to study dreams, believes that the content of dreams are driven fully by the unconscious. In the eyes of many psychoanalyst, dreams express what we repress in a day to day life. Everyone, has a conscious and unconscious mind. The unconscious, the tip of the iceberg for example, holds every thought that we regularly think about. But the unconscious is where the real cause of behavior lies and, our true fears and desires manifest.  Through a psychoanalytical lense, it shows Antoinette’s fear of abandonment and her confliction of her own identity. We as readers are able to see her fears as they really are in her unconcious.

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In “Wide Sargasso Sea,” dreams reveal Antoinette’s repressed emotions and conflicts. Through a psychoanalytical lense, we are able to see three versions of the same dream that Antoinette reveals her fear, anxiety and loss of identity she cannot express consciouslyDreams act as an emotional outlet for Antoinette when she cannot express her emotions.  The initial dream follows after Tia, Antoinette’s childhood best friend, robs her and calls her a “white nigger”(24). Antoinette is walking through the forest with “someone who hated”(23) her. Walking through a forest symbolizes being lost or confused; the forest represents her home and shows Antoinette’s confusion in the world and what is happening around her.

Because “someone” was “out of sight”(24) it projects her unknown fear, emotions and, indicates that Antoinette is suppressing them. Even Though she could not identify the stranger, she felt danger, this could be her unconcious telling her how many people in Jamaica hate her and her family. She is harassed by the black children in her home and her repressed feelings are surfacing in this dream.

Dreams seem to be a guide to Antoinette when she cannot consciously comprehend a situation.As Antoinette begins to lose herself in Rochester, we see her unconscious predict a future conflict and how she is more aware of her surroundings. The second dream happens after Mason, her stepfather, took her out of the convent arrange her marriage. Comparing the second dream with the first reveals much about Antoinette’s psychological development. Unlike the first dream, the second occurs in present tense, suggesting that Antoinette has grown closer to her dream consciousness. The plot and context of the second dream have grown clearer, which could be Antoinette gaining greater intelligence and perception. Where in the first, Antoinette is merely “walking in the forest,”(24) with “someone who hated”(24) her. Now she is “walking towards the forest… wearing a long white dress and thin slippers… following a man” which causes Antoinette to feel “sick with fear ” (59 -60).

Antoinette, is now walking through the forests around Coulibri with an unknown male suggesting Antoinette’s sexuality growing. Her wanting trying to “hold up her dress” to make sure it does not “trail through the dirt” alludes to her concern with maintaining her sexual purity(60). Antoinette is wearing a white dress which symbolizes her innocence and could symbolize a wedding dress, representing Antoinette’s inner desire to marry Rochester.

The man in the dream could very well be Rochester, and when Antoinette describes the man being “black with hatred,” could foreshadow the resentment Antoinette builds for Rochester(60). Also, conflicting description of this male is Antoinette’s unconscious telling Antoinette what she should do. In the final dream, Antoinette exposes several repressed emotions in a very violent and realistic dream. Again, the dream takes place after a significant moment; Grace Poole, her caretaker, just told Antoinette that she attacked Richard Mason he visited her. During this time, Antoinette has no sense of reality. Poole tells her they are in England and Antoinette does not “believe it” and “never will believe it'” (183). Her confusion of identity follows her in her dream.

She takes keys from Poole while she is sleeping, escapes from the attic, and floats throughout the house. Similar to her first dream, she feels as if “someone” is following her (187).  Antoinette shows several of her internal emotions in the final dream. First, she has nostalgia.

Looking over at Thornfield, she sees the pool at Coulibri. The images of  her doll’s house back to her innocent and safe childhood in Jamaica. The fire could represent a transformation from cold England, to warm Caribbean.

The corruption of her identity is  present when the parrot jumps from a burning Coulibri similarly to Antoinette jumping off a burning Thornfield. Antoinette not being able to recognize her voice as the screaming souls could show her loss of identity. When Rochester’s calls Antoinette “Bertha,” naming her creates an  identity he imposed upon Antoinette, which suggest his role in the loss of her identity. The dollhouse is an image of Antoinette’s childhood, and suggests another identity Rochester creates for her; a Marionetta, a toy Rochester can use. Antoinette loses her identity due to past traumas, and as readers we see it surface in her dreams and in her relationships with Rochester.In Wide Sargasso Sea, dreams has important significance and meaning to Antoinette’s development.

Dreams are a very important aspect and serves to develop a character further. Each of the dreams have symbols: trees, fires, the white dress, a male stranger, all which show Antoinette’s struggles throughout the book with her identity and fears with people she cares about, like Rochester. As previously stated, Antoinette has lost her sense of identity and in every dream we see how she gets it back.

We also see the fears that has been instilled in her due to previous traumas that manifest in her dreams.


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