The novel opens at the opera, aptly introducing the recurring metaphor of performance, or keeping up an appearance of correct and moral behavior, whatever the reality might be. Julius Beaufort is an example of someone who manages to do this until the end of the novel, when he is unmasked and ostracized. Correct dress and customs become the props that hold the performance together. When Beaufort is trying to fool people into thinking that he is being financially tided over, he has his wife appear at the opera with an expensive necklace - which later is revealed to have been borrowed. A moving leave-taking scene in a play between two lovers who do not express their love becomes symbolic to Archer of his leave-taking from Ellen. The metaphor of performance expresses the fact that Archer and Ellen have had to pretend and not been true to their love. Archer likens his wedding to the first night at the opera, drawing attention to the unreality of the event - Archer is marrying one woman but loves another. Archer considers his wife bland and dull, and has no idea what, if anything, lies behind the theatre curtain of May's "niceness." Most of the characters in the novel are playing a part for much of the time, with varying degrees of success. Archer and May play the part of loving spouses, Ellen tries to play the part of a respectable society lady for a while, Mr Welland plays the part of an invalid to protect himself from society's unpleasant aspects, and Lefferts plays the part of loyal husband to hide his adulteries. This is not to say that they are being utterly false to themselves while in these parts, as the parts represent an aspect of themselves. But there is much that they keep hidden and unsaid. Blindness
In Chapter 10, Archer likens May to a Kentucky cave-fish, which ceased to develop eyes because it had no use for them. He feels it is his task to remove the bandage from her eyes, but he...
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