The Wife of Martin Guerre Long Essay

May 30, 2018 | Author: Tara Koroi | Category: Adultery, Deception, Faith, Narration, God
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Tara Koroi, Long Essay

The Wife of Martin Guerre is a novella by Janet Lewis that retells the story of Bertrande‟s life and the events that occurred. This novella is based around the medieval times, in the 16 th century France where feudalism was the key to maintaining life. Bertrande de Rols was arranged in a marriage with the son of the Guerre family, Martin Guerre at a young age of eleven in hopes of fixing the t he feudal between the two peasant families in Artigues. Bertrande was abandoned by Martin after the birth of their son, Sanxi. Martin stole some grain from his father granary and decides to leave for eight days in order to escape the wrath of his father but eight days turns into eight years. Bertrande has given up hope for the return of her husband but when he returns home, Bertrande gets the feeling of deceit and betrayal when she meets her so called husband. Bertrande push asides her feelings and lives her life as The Wife of Martin Guerre, but after the birth of her second son and the birth of her daughter, who died in birth, Bertrande realises her feelings were true and that this so called man is an imposter who has caused both of them to sin. Bertrande accuses her deceiving husband but also achieved justice when the imposter was exposed in court as Arnaud de Tilh, getting the justice Bertrande deserved she was also condemned by Martin for being deceived by Arnaud. Janet Lewis uses narrative conventions such as characterisation, point of view, conflict, setting and descriptive language language to position me to respond to the t he values and attitudes of a particular time such as those evident in the sixteenth-century. She has used these conventions to convey different values such as religion, betrayal and family honour to position my response towards these values and the t he characters attitudes towards it. Lewis was successful in conveying this, and with conventions such as characterisation, point of view, language and conflict, we are able to respond to Bertrande‟s role in this novella . Through Bertrande‟s actions, speech and appearance we are able to understand her struggle as a women in a feudal society during the sixteenth-century. Her role for being labelled as are adulterer in the event of lies and betrayal shows how she achieved justice for herself and the values she believed in.

In the 16th century, Medieval Europe was preoccupied with religion and that was having a system of government in which the church had great power and influence. Religion was of great importance in every ones daily life. Everything was attributable to God, daily activities, areas of learning such as philosophy, art, science, as well as what was thought of as right and wrong were built around a notion of God, and done in the service of God. Feudalism also played a large role in the medieval time, in the 16 th century, and was the main setting in Lewis‟s novella. Religion and power were the two important factors in feudalism, with the use Word count : 2694

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of narrative conventions such as point of view and characterisation, Lewis conveys these values across. Lewis used characterisation such as speech and action to convey the Parish priest and the importance of his role in not only in the Artigues community but in shaping Bertrande‟s

accusation of the imposter. The priest would conduct religious ceremonies in the local church; such as marrying the young Martin Guerre and Bertrande de Rols, regularly visit surrounding farms and being a spiritual advisor and counsellor to individuals (pg. 49). I can convey the importance of religion when the priest tries and convince Bertrande to drop her accusations against her deceiving, imposter of a husband by using religion to not only scare Bertrande but also position her accusations. With the use of point of view and characterisations, I was able to portray the importance of religion and how it plays an important role in every characters life. It was religion that led Bertrande to accuse her husband of being an imposter; it was religion that made Bertrande feel she committed adultery in the eyes of god and I, the reader conveyed this fr om the quote on page 42, “It is not possible for this man should be Martin Guerre. For Martin Guerre, the son of the old master, proud and abrupt, like the old master, could never in this world speak so gaily to his own son. Ah! Unhappy woman that I am, so distrust the Good God who has sent me this happiness! I shall be punished. But this is also punishment in itself. Lewis conveyed a deep conflict of „internal/psychological‟, Bertrande is fighting with herself, trying to see the point of 

whether her so called husband is an imposter or if the Good God has heard her loneliness and has send her husband back home. Lewis used this convention to show the confusing but yet the doubt that Bertrande has of her husband and how this conveys to me the reader of the uncertainties of knowledge that Bertrande has of her husband after eight long years. Lewis also conveyed a conflict between Bertrande and the society to not only put Bertrande‟s faith in question but also the f aith of the society and the people around

Bertrande. Point of views of the characters portrayed there emotion and views on religion and also how others view their religious context for example the point of view on Bertrande and her religious beliefs was negative not only from the society but also from me the reader. Bertrande accused her own husband of being and imposter, to the society that was a greater sin then committing adultery, to the viewer‟s we see this as a weakness in Bertrande‟s faith.

This not only affected me the reader but also Bertrande herself, as she has doubts in her accusations but also in her faith, and I can convey this from her point of view in the novella. “The priest will think me mad, or worse he will find a way to prove that which I only suspect”.

This quote conveys a lot of statement, such as how important the priest intention and view  just because he is a priest, which relates in with the religious value and also the fact that Bertrande‟s actually terrified in a way of proc eeding with her accusations.

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Tara Koroi, Long Essay

Lewis also conveyed the value of betrayal, this would be the turning point in the novel as Bertrande is betrayed but not only Arnaud de Tilh who posed as her husband but also the fact the people she lived with for eight years didn‟t believe her when she accused her  husband of deceit and lying. Betrayal played an important role in the telling of The Wife of Martin Guerre it not only states the betrayal of a man committing sin by stealing another man‟s wife, but the betrayal of Bertrande in her husband‟s eyes, Martin Guerre, by

committing adultery but playing along to the imposters play, even though she was deceived. Lewis used conventions such as language and conflict to convey this values and attitudes of the characters. Martin Guerre‟s attitude towards the so called bet rayal by his wife, Bertrande, was not only accountable for Arnaud but also Bertrande, he believed that out of all the society and his family, Bertrande should of realised and felt the deceit of Arnaud as her imposter of a husband and I as the reader conveyed this from the type of emotive language Martin used at the end of the trial in court. The quote is stated in page 91, “Dry your t ears,

Madame. They cannot, and they ought not, move my pity. The example of my sisters and my uncle can be no excuse for you, Madame, who knew me better than any living soul. The error into which you plunged could only have been caused by wilful blindness. You, and you only, Madame, are answerable for the dis-honour which has befallen m e”, this quote states the dislike and the betrayal of Martin towards Bertrande in her role in the event that occurred. Martin expected his wife to be able to identify the errors of Arnaud, and yet she shows the little knowledge she has towards her husband. I as the reader felt confused but also agree with the statement of Martin guerre, Bertrande should be able to identify who her husband was, since she would know the flaws and the characteristics of her husband and yet she felt blind to the feeling of knowing her husband wasn‟t the Real Martin Guerre but of  an imposter. Bertrande felt a blind eye to the situation, positioned by the emotion and thinking of the society and the Guerre family, she didn‟t willingly commit adultery and sinned

but she knew that this man wasn‟t her husband and yet she played along the role of a dutiful wife. Martin felt betrayal but also did Bertrande, she betrayed herself, Martin but also felt she was betrayed by the society and her so called „family‟ who didn‟t believe and discour aged

her opinion on the imposter of a husband, Arnaud. With the use of language and conflict, Lewis was able to portray the betrayal of Bertrande, from the people she lived with for eight years but also the betrayal she felt from Martin. Bertrande voiced her opinions and emotion of her husband being an imposter and yet the society brushed it off as a delusional idea that developed due to the absentee of Martin in Bertrande‟s life as a husband and a father to

their son.

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Tara Koroi, Long Essay

This is conveyed from the quote in page 64, “My poor child, your years of suffering have told on your brain in a strange way. Why, I have known the boy all his life! Of course I shall testify in his favour, if I‟m asked, and when the courts have decided that he really is your husband,

perhaps you will have some peace, although it‟s all a great bother to go through with in order  to convince a wife of what she ought to know with ought to help”, this quote positioned me

the reader to agree with the priest, with the use of descriptive and emotive language, I can convey the sense of believing that maybe Bertrande has suffered the absence of Martin in her life that she does not know him well enough to accuse him of not being her husband. The attitude of the society and the priest towards Bertrande‟s accusations were negative and reasonable, with the use of emotive language, I‟m able to agree with their opinions of this

characters and position myself to not only believe that Bertrande has suffered enough to influence her accusations but that maybe she has forgotten her husband completely. Bertrande also experienced an social/external conflict between the society and her accusation‟s, she felt that just maybe she is all imagining this idea that this man, her

husband, is an imposter and with the opinions and ideas of the society and the Guerre household, is influencing her decision. This conveyed to me the reader that maybe the reasons that led Bertrande to commit adultery and commit sins was probably due to society making her feel that she was insane and that she was mad, but it also conveyed that she was strong minded and values her honour and proceeded ahead with her accusations even though she was shunned and was told and showed the dislike in her decision and accusations of her so called husband, Martin Guerre from the society and the Guerre household.

The novel tells the story of the betrayal of Bertrande towards Martin but it also states the honour that Bertrande archived by following through with her accusation towards the imposter Arnaud de Tilh who deceived her by playing the role of her husband Martin Guerre and causing both her and Arnaud to commit sin and adultery. Family honour is also a value that‟s portrayed in this novel by Janet Lewis, with the use of narrative convention such as

characterisations and language, Lewis portrays the attitude of Bertrande and one of the  justices towards the value and how this positions our negative thoughts of Bertrande‟s role in the deceit of Arnaud de Tilh. Bertrande followed through with her accusations, and the end of the novella she archived her justice and honour of being labelled as not only delusional, but also as the adulterer in the event, by allowing Arnaud de Tilh to play and steal another man‟s wife. With the use of characterisation such as speech and actions, I am able to

portray that Bertrande is relieved that at the end of the court trial she was able to prove that

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Tara Koroi, Long Essay

she was blinded by the society and Arnaud in believing that her husband was the real Martin Guerra. This is conveyed from the quote in page 92, “…knowing herself at last free, in her bitter, solitary justice, of both passions and of both men”, this quote conveys the honour and

happiness of clearing her name and the label of an adultery, Bertrande feels she archived honour even of it cost her the love of an imposter and her love for her real husband, Martin Guerre. I as the reader convey the importance of justice that needed to be served to Arnaud for not only deceiving her but for also concluding to the loss of her love for her husband, Martin Guerre and the love of Arnaud de Tilh towards her. Bertrande not only receive the  justice from Arnaud de Tilh but also from the priest who not only try and convinced her that her accusations were a big sin but also the fact that he was condemning her to sin in order to agree with the priest wanting this imposter, Arnaud de Tilh more than the real Martin Guerre. I can also convey that others that did not live with Bertrande for eight years was also deceived into believing that Arnaud de Tilh was Bert rande‟s real husband and I can convey this from the quote in page 91, “Madame, we have all been very h appily delivered from a

great error. Pray accept the profound apologies of this court which did not earlier sufficiently credit your story and your grief”, from this quote I can convey the deceit that even the society

and of a stranger went through by the imposter, Arnaud de Tilh. I can portray that maybe Bertrande was not involved in the deceit of Arnaud de Tilh and maybe the reasons why the society and the Guerre household didn‟t encourage and believe the accusations of  Bertrande was because they were all professionally deceived by Arnaud into believing that he is the real Martin and that maybe the Guerre household missed the presence of Martin that they were blinded with their better judgement towards the imposter. I can convey that Bertrande not only deserve the justice and honour from the imposter Arnaud de Tilh but also the honour that has been removed and stolen, from the society and the Guerre household. This novel conveyed the betrayal but more importantly the honour and justice that Bertrande deserved but also Martin from being thieved of his identity and his wife.

Janet Lewis used convention such as characterisation, language, conflict, point of view and plot to portray the values such as Religion, Betrayal and family honour and also the attitudes of the characters towards the values conveyed in the novel. Lewis was successful in positioning me, the reader to not only reflect the emotion and attitude of the society and of the Guerre household towards Bertrande and her accusations but also experience the struggle of voicing her beliefs and opinions as a woman in a medieval, 16 th century where feudalism was important. Lewis positioned me, the reader, to agree with Bertrande and her accusations and the deceit she went through but also side with the society and the opinions

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Tara Koroi, Long Essay

of the Guerre household. Lewis was successful in positioning me, the reader to response positively towards Bertrande but also towards the attitudes of the different characters towards the different values portrayed by Janet Lewis in the novella, The Wife of Martin Guerre.

Word count : 2694

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