The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil Metaphors and Similes

Dog's Eyes (Simile)

When Walter proposes to Kitty, he seems so subdued and awkward that Kitty cannot help but comparing his eyes to a dog's. "They had a tenderness which she had never seen in them before, but there was something beseeching in them, like a dog's that has been whipped, which slightly exasperated her" (pg. 19).

Like a dog, Walter is willing to grovel. Drawing this simile is also not an auspicious reaction on Kitty's part if the two of them are to be married.

Kitty the Lioness (Metaphor)

When Walter confronts her about coming to Mei-tan-fu and explains his knowledge of her affair, criticizing her character viciously, Kitty responds in a fury. "Wounded vanity can make a woman more vindictive than a lioness robbed of her cubs" (pg. 45). Kitty has protected her pride the way that a lioness protects her cubs, and Walter's harsh words make her react as ferociously as this dangerous predator.

Waddington Drunk (Simile)

Waddington is very pleasant company, though he does like to drink a great deal of whiskey. During their first dinner at Mei-tan-fu, Kitty observes that, "If he was drunk it was without offensiveness, gaily, as a satyr might be who had stolen a wine-skin from a sleeping shepherd" (pg. 64).

Kitty likens Waddington to the mischievous satyrs of Greek mythology, forest dwellers whose playful antics feature in a number of ancient stories.

The Soul Moth (Metaphor)

As Walter lies dying in the middle of the night, Kitty visits him one last time to apologize for everything she has put him through. As he weakly regards her, "It seemed to her strangely that his soul was a fluttering moth and its wings were heavily with hatred" (pg. 134).

Walter's soul is a weak as the small insect, but it is still burdened by the hatred he feels towards Kitty for her betrayal. She does her best to lighten its load before he dies.

The Butterflies of Ideas (Simile)

When Kitty sleeps with Charles after her return to Hong Kong, she is disgusted with her moral slippage. "New ideas flitted about her heart like little yellow butterflies in the sunshine, and she had hoped to be so much better in the future" (pg. 160).

Like butterflies, Kitty's new thoughts and ways of being are delicate, and she is easily tempted back into her old habits. However, these new thoughts are attractive and compelling; the simile evokes beauty and joy.