“The Painted Veil” Essay Questions


As it was discussed in the very first lesson, Maugham found Dantes story from the1300s as a modern story. Now you have read The Painted Veil, do you feel that Maugham’s novel from the 1920s is still a modern story? Why or why not?
Yes, the story is still modern because though there are slight changes in which things are done, they are still the same things. For instance, Kitty calls the laboratory and office for some assistance. The same is done today only that there may be the use of wireless phones. Darrington also takes her to the hills for a walk. This is typical of the current nature walks in the parks. The difference is that parks nowadays are maintained whereas the case in the novel is a reference to a natural setting in the hills.


One recurrent theme in The Painted Veil is the importance of respect, especially in regard to the character of Kitty. Discuss what Kittys idea of respect is and how that idea is influenced by secondary characters such as Waddington, Mother Superior, and Dorothy. Discuss how Kittys idea of respect evolves throughout the novel, using specific textual examples of how this is manifested.
Kitty’s idea of respect is that it is a universal accord. She gives it to whomever she interacts with regardless of her prejudiced motive. Mother superior makes fun of her almost at all times, to an extent incensing her but Kitty remains cool and always subjective. When together, Mother Nature hugs her and kisses her and she is filled with surprise about that treatment. Darrington is considered by Kitty as shrewd. Nevertheless, she never stops accompanying her to the hills and they usually have cordial conversations throughout. Kitty also uses words of politeness to Dorothy. She was a polite woman who would serve you tea and dinner on visiting her.


Looking at the novel as a whole, what distinct moral do you think that Maugham was trying to set forth?
The distinct moral is that though there are different people of different class in society, love and respect creates peaceful co-existence.
Secondly, decisions are objective parts of life that must be left to the owners to make. Deciding a life for someone else brings regrets at the end. At the end of the book, almost everyone is regretting about an issue.


The conclusion of a novel includes a resolution or denouement where the author is able to tie up loose ends and resolve the conflict. What are there lingering loose ends or conflicts that Maugham did not resolve? What potential reasons would Maugham have for leaving something unresolved?
The point of conflict is that Kitty ends up musing over the right man she did not marry. She is so sad also that Walter died when he was so much part of her life.
Another loose end comes when there are absolute regrets about a life that was never lived. The father asks about the expected sex of the kid and she answers ‘”I want a girl because I want to bring her up so that she shant make the mistakes I’ve made. When I look back upon the girl I was I hate myself…’
The potential reason for leaving issues unresolved is to show the reality of how actual life is. People die without achieving their life dreams.


After you have watched the movie, whose ending do you like better: the movies or the books? Why?
The book looks real. The movie, on the other hand, expresses some form of fiction. In the book, suffering is expressed as it is and happiness equally expressed. The book ends on a negative note where there several unresolved matters which are true with life.


What character (s) from the movie did you picture differently from your reading of the book? Why?
Waddington had no particular trait that would describe him. In one instance he is very good and the other he is very shrewd. He, in fact, looks indispensable about most of the things he does.
Mother superior may have been portrayed partly as a bad person whom to some extent Kitty did not like. However, what happens is that she used to tell people the truth in most cases. Though she did not sound right, it was the truth.


How is this book relevant to you?
The book is relevant because it creates a continuum between life in the earlier years of the century and the current life. It makes me understand the history of what is happening at the moment. Secondly, the book teaches a lot of respect for each other in society. It helps in a positive co-existence.
It also creates the need to work very hard on our dreams when we are still young as well as not letting people decide our future for us. Though they have ideas, they need not have a great impact on the decisions we make.

Maugham, W. S. (2011). The Painted Veil. Washington: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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