The Wife Of Martin Guerre Essay

1003 words - 4 pages

2. "The truth is only the truth. I cannot change it if I would." Bertrande is the only character in this novel who demonstrates any integrity. Discuss.Janet Lewis', 'The Wife of Martin Guerre' paints a picture of life as it was in the 16th century in Artigues, a small village in France. While the rest of France was moving towards the Renaissance , "Artigues enjoyed its isolation and its lack of fame," and maintained its strong feudal values. In this society the cap d' hostal was the ruler of the household and his views and decisions became the households'. The women of the house were the child bearers and the servants to the men and were not permitted to voice any opinions of their own. Bertrande, challenging this tradition, dared to accuse her husband of being an imposter, showing her honesty and morals to rule above the happiness she may have had in living a lie. Other members of the Guerre household would have her live in sin, but her integrity in the end is too great and she pursues the truth, ending in her own destruction.The people of Artigues were extremely religious in their beliefs and it set a foundation for them to make moral decisions in their own lives. Bertrande was also extremely religious and this was the basis of her decision to accuse her husband as being an imposter. When Martin comes back after eight years she immediately notices that he is different and has doubts that it is he, but Pierre and Martin's sisters rejoice in his presence and she thinks she must be mistaken, a consequence of being away from Martin for too long, "I have almost forgotten your face!".As time passes Bertrande comes to realize other differences, more extreme ones. This man is generous and kind and a loving father, the qualities, which the younger Martin did not possess. A soldier from Rochefort declared he is not Martin also, as Martin lost a leg when he fought by his side in the war. She seems genuinely traumatized and disgusted by her realization of her ethically compromised choice upon realizing that this man who claimed to be her husband was in fact not. When Bertrande finds the courage to accuse the imposter she expects to be struck for her daring to question her husband, but surprisingly he laughs at her and claims, "Madame, you are demented. It happens sometimes to women who are with child". This intensifies her realization that this man is not Martin. By refusing to leave, Arnaud places Bertrande in a difficult position. She now has two choices; she can sacrifice herself and continue to live a lie in order to make her family happy, or attempt to bring a man she has loved greatly to justice.She is faced with several negative aspects for admitting to the household how she feels: no father for Sanxi; ruining the family's harmony and...

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