Pg 15, Paragraph 3
“I scarcely think there is a greater sin, Lucy,” he said, solemnly, “than that of a woman who marries a man she does not love. You are so precious to me, my beloved, that deeply as my heart is set on this, and bitter as the mere thought of disappointment is to me, I would not have you commit such a sin for any happiness of mine. If my happiness could be achieved by such an act, which it could not–which it never could,” he repeated, earnestly–“nothing but misery can result from a marriage dictated by any motive but truth and love.”
In this passage, Michael is in the process of proposing to Miss Lucy Graham and his use of language caught my attention because he primarily uses possessive pronouns that refer to himself. He refers to his potential fiancé only in terms in reference to his own person using phrases such as “you are so precious to me” (15) and “my beloved” (15). Through his word choice, the reader is able to receive an insight into Michael’s character. By doing this, we see that his perspective of his and Lucy’s relationship is centered on him alone. That being said, he also puts all responsibility for his own feelings into Lucy’s hands saying that if she does not truly love him, he will be unable to “achieve…happiness” (15). Michael sees marriage as something that purely affects him but is unfortunately in the hands of Lucy who as all of the power to hurt him.
He explains that he believes marriages made for any other reason than “truth and love” (15) were destined to end sadness. He explicates this concept with several references to the hypothetical “sin” of the situation. Michael uses “sin” to describe the act of Lucy marrying him out greed, power, or any other motivation, rather than out of her love for him. In doing this, he brings into question his own religious beliefs and his willingness to push them upon Lucy at a moment of great importance. The images brought about are ones of fire and damnation of hell as a consequence of Lucy’s future actions. This religious motif is one that continues throughout the book whether as a result of the cultural mindset of the period or in an effort to emphasize the sinful behavior of the characters of the book, is so far unclear.