The Lifted Veil

In, the Lifted Veil, Latimer’s bride Bertha attempts to poison him at the end of the novel. After living apart emotionally for so long, and having a truly loveless marriage, it is strange that she decides at the end of the novel to poison him. However, one must see it from Bertha’s perspective. She has been living a life devoid of love, passion, or happiness. She does not ascribe to the norms of female daily life for the time, cannot find any solace in her marriage, and she does not have any children. Prior to her marriage, she was adored and perceived as coy and witty—traits that are becoming of a young woman. In her age and through her marriage, she is instead the object of pity by most of her acquaintances and other women at the time. She often went out to balls and social gatherings, while her husband stayed in the home. This is markedly different from the traditional role of women and men at the time. Bertha inhibits the outside sphere, while Latimer is confined indoors. In this way, Bertha can be regarded as a symbol for feminism. She is passionate, angry, and full of hate—not the typical personality considered becoming of a woman. From the point of marriage, which she was not very interested in from the beginning, the reader sees a steady decline in her character. Furthermore, by poisoning her husband does she regain some of her old vitality and charm, implying that his total death would bring about the “old Bertha” and she could regain some of her past independent self.

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