Wife of Martin Guerre

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Janet Lewis communicates the conflict of love and conscience. Bertrande knew what was morally right but knew it was wrong for the family and especially her. "All the circumstances of her life, the instruction of the church, her affection for her children and her kindred rose up about her in a wall implacable as stone, invisible of air, condemning her to silence and to the perpetuation of a sin which her soul learned to abhor." Authority and family values, is also another theme which raises questions. Is a life under the authority of another really your own life? Are family values more important than your own values and love? Monsieur Guerre is head of the household and all must obey him. The women obey the men and all must obey the church. Bertrande fears that her immortal soul is in danger, and this obedience is one reason why she does the hard thing and reveals Arnaud as the fraud rather than the easy thing and live with her indiscretions. The hierarchy in which they live makes them all obey Monsieur Guerre yet when Martin leaves and Monsieur Guerre dies Bertrande is left to fend for herself and the Mesnie falls into disorder suggesting that the household and people of this time must have some sort of authority and without it there is chaos. Love, honour and commitment also play heavily upon Bertrande. Her commitment to Martin, even though he left her for eleven years, is admirable, yet Martin's commitment to Bertrande is almost non existent. He doesn't show the love and honour that Bertrande shows him. He stayed away, and shows nothing but contempt for her when he returns. Arnaud expresses love and respect for Bertrande, "the man for whom she felt for one extraordinary year a great and joyous passion." And she returns it. The love between them is perhaps more pure and happy than that of Martin and Bertrande yet is marred by the fact that he is not who he said, and he also that he jeopardizes her immortal soul. Her choices and decisions and the choices and...
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