The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil Imagery

"The verandah was in shadow; and lazily, her heart at ease with satisfied love, she lingered. Their house stood in the Happy Valley, on the side of the hill, for they could not afford to live on the more eligible but expensive Peak" (pg. 5)

This comes after Charles leaves, as Kitty relaxes outside. This description paints a vivid image of a woman taking her ease in the evening. By describing the shadows, Maugham makes clear the time of day; by describing the valley, he hints at lush scenery. However, even this happy moment is marred by Kitty's shallowness - she unhappily notes that they do not have the money to live near the Peak, which she finds preferable.

"The morning drew on and the sun touched the mist so that it shone whitely like the ghost of snow on a dying star. Though on the river was light so that you could discern palely the lines of the corded junks and the thick forest of their masts, in front it was a shining wall the eye could not pierce" (pg. 66)

Early on in her time at Mei-tan-fu, Kitty awakes from a bad dream and gazes out her window just as dawn breaks. The appearance of the dawn light on the boasts of the river is vividly conveyed through metaphor. The mist "shown whitely like the ghost of snow on a dying star," evoking bright lights but also suggesting a deep sadness or foreboding, suitable for a plague-ridden city viewed by a heartbroken woman.

"The face was long, with a large mouth and large, even teeth; the nose, though not small, was delicate and sensitive; but it was the eyes, under their thin black brows, which gave her face its intense and tragic character. They were very large, black, and though not exactly cold, by their calm steadiness strangely compelling. Your first thought when you looked at the Mother Superior was that as a girl she must have been beautiful, but in a moment you realized that this was a woman whose beauty, depending on character, had grown with advancing years" (pg. 81)

Kitty is struck by her first encounter with the Mother Superior. This paragraph describes both the appearance and personality of the Mother Superior: she is a commanding woman of great wisdom and emotional depth.

"They passed up and down little hills laid out with trim rice-fields and farm-houses nestling cozily in a grove of bamboos; they passed through ragged villages and populous cities walled like the cities in a missal" (pg. 146)

During her journey back to Hong Kong, Kitty eagerly observes the beauty of southern China. This example of imagery makes extensive use of contrary images - cities contrasted to hills, rice fields to bamboos, and farmhouses to hills.