Arnaud du Tilh, a rogue and an impostor, deserved punishment for his crimes, and that is what he received. Arnaud, a man once thought by people to be unmistakably Martin Guerre, was sentenced to death. Perhaps in this day an age, a punishment such as this would be excessively severe, however in Arnaud’s time it was considered just. A question can be asked whether Martin Guerre deserves such a punishment as well, because of his actions. Martin Guerre never broke any laws like that of Arnaud du Tilh, however in a moral sense, Martin’s actions were down at Arnaud’s level, perhaps even lower.
Martin Guerre was the spitting image of his father. Before he left the farm, everyone that knew him was confident in him taking over his father’s position as head and protector of the family. As Bertrande once said when they both were young, “In his day he will make a protector for this family as like his own father as two men may well be, and for that thanks to God” (28). Consequently, him leaving the farm and not returning for years was quite unexpected. Whether he planned to return in 8 days like he said or not is irrelevant, he still abandoned everything, and that is inexcusable. His left his wife Bertrande, causing her great pain and endless wondering whether he still was alive. In a quote from the narrator, “He had deserted her in the full beauty of her youth, in the height of her great passion, he had shamed her and wounded her…” (34).
Martin also deserted his young son, Sanxi. The child barely knew him when he left, and then grew to love and respect another man whom he thought to be his father, Arnaud du Tilh. To him the real Martin Guerre was a stranger. Martin’s father was greatly disappointed in him, leaving the old man very bitter until the day of his death, as quoted by the narrator, “The displeasure of Monsieur Guerre had become as necessary and inevitable a part of his character as...
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