The Wife of Martin Guerre

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  • Topic: Martin Guerre, Impostor, Mind
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  • Published : June 15, 2005
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"…how can I deny the truth?"
Although Bertrande is well-intentioned, her actions bring misery to everyone. Discuss.

The notion of Bertrande de Rols in The Wife of Martin Guerre as having good intentions suggests not only that she was mindful of her own feelings in her pursuit of the truth, but also of the feelings of others. However, Bertrande's intentions were to cleanse her soul and absolve herself from sin by indicting the impostor, Arnaud du Tilh. Yet, she undertakes this task considering the despair it would inflict upon the mesnie. These actions also are detrimental to Bertrande in causing her perhaps the most anguish and grief of all. Bertrande intends to uphold the status quo, yet she has due knowledge that pathway to the greater good will be harmful to her and the Mesnie.

Bertrande's intentions are to free her soul from the binds of the sin she committed by being the wife of Arnaud du Tilh. Bertrande's loyalty to Martin shapes her response to being ‘imposed upon, deceived, betrayed into adultery' and as she came to the inescapable conclusion that Arnaud was indeed an impostor, her first thoughts were to ‘rid herself of him' and dissolve her guilt. As the epiphany occurs, the ‘spindle' drops to the floor, unravelling the truth ‘finally, coldly, inescapably.' This is immediately followed by the repetition of ‘I' in Bertrande's inner thoughts, Lewis using this pronoun to suggest the action Bertrande would take part in to condemn Arnaud du Tilh would be primarily based on her own personal escape from his treachery. Bertrande's intentions are fundamentally to promote self preservation and to put her mind at ease.

Nevertheless, Bertrande knows these self-centred intentions, when put into action, will ultimately be reflected by the displeasure and distress of her children and the Mesnie. ‘I am destroying the happiness of my family. And why? … to free myself from the deceit which was consuming and killing me.' Bertrande's strong desire to free herself...
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