Till We Have Faces

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Ansit is Bardia’s wife. He marries her out of love, without a dowry, which other men tease him for. Orual hears that she fusses much over Bardia and Orual thinks of her as slightly ridiculous for it. Orual feels very jealous of Ansit, since she’s in love with Bardia, and is quick to think ill of her. When Bardia dies, Orual goes to visit Ansit and finds that she has been jealous too, envious that Orual shared such a deep comradeship with Bardia in battle and in affairs of state. Orual is amazed and shows Ansit her face, despite remaining veiled for years, to prove that there’s nothing to be jealous of. Ansit sees that Orual also loved Bardia, and they share a brief moment of connection. But Ansit also speaks to Orual frankly, telling her that she killed Bardia through overwork and has selfishly consumed the lives of everyone around her. This is one of the truest interpretations of Orual up to this point, and perhaps in her whole life. Although Ansit’s words hurt Orual, they cause her to begin reevaluating her actions and seeing how she has used those she loved, putting her on the path to ultimate self-understanding. Ansit sees the true Orual both in her physical form—her face—and in her moral composition.

Ansit Quotes in Till We Have Faces

The Till We Have Faces quotes below are all either spoken by Ansit or refer to Ansit. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition of Till We Have Faces published in 2012.
Part 1: Chapter 18 Quotes

“Fool!” I said to myself. “Have you not yet learned that you are that to no one? What are you to Bardia? ...His heart lies at home with his wife and her brats. If you mattered to him he’d never have let you fight. What are you to the Fox? His heart was always in the Greeklands. You were, maybe, the solace of his captivity. They say a prisoner will tame a rat. He comes to love the rat—after a fashion. But throw the door open, strike off his fetters, and how much’ll he care for the rat then?”

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), The Fox, Bardia, Ansit
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual becomes the Queen, she frees the Fox from slavery. When she realizes that he’s considering going home to the Greeklands, she feels betrayed. She can’t imagine her life without the Fox, and she thought that the same was true for him.

To Orual, the fact that the Fox would consider leaving her for his homeland proves that he doesn’t love her as completely as she thought. She hates that everyone could live just fine without her, as she knows she couldn’t live without them. She can’t understand that the Fox can love her and also have people and places he loves elsewhere. She loves him possessively, thinking that her love gives her the right to keep him from leaving. Later, she’ll realize that if she loved him truly, she would have forced him to leave and seek what he was missing rather than using her love to guilt him into staying.

Furthermore, Orual thinks that if Bardia really loved her, he would have prevented her from dueling Argan, because he wouldn’t have wanted to see her put in danger. To her, love means doing whatever it takes to keep the beloved at one’s side, even if it doesn’t make the beloved happy. In truth, Bardia supported Orual’s decision to fight because he respected her abilities and knew that the duel would do her good as Queen. He allowed her to live her life as she wished, which is a much more genuine form of love than Orual’s form of love.

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Part 2: Chapter 1 Quotes

And so take away from him his work, which was his life... and all his glory and his great deeds? Make a child and a dotard of him? Keep him to myself at that cost? Make him so mine that he was no longer his? ...He was to live the life he thought best and fittest for a great man—not that which would most pleasure me.

Related Characters: Ansit (speaker), Orual (The Queen), Bardia
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:

When Bardia dies, the Queen goes to visit his widow, Ansit. Ansit accuses the Queen of working Bardia to death, and the Queen doesn’t understand why Ansit wouldn’t have told her earlier, before it was too late. Ansit explains that she had to allow Bardia to do what gave him happiness and fulfillment, even though it took him away from her.

Ansit exhibits the pure form of love that Orual cannot understand or practice. While Orual thinks love entitles her to possess and control her beloved, Ansit argues that love must allow the beloved to retain his independence. True love requires sacrifice and pain from the lover and true love aims at all times for the happiness of the beloved. Orual’s way of loving reduces her beloveds to objects that she jealously guards, while Ansit’s love supports Bardia in becoming more himself than he could be without her. Ansit recognizes that possessive love only makes bitterness grow between the lovers, since they cannot pursue their own desires outside of their desires within the relationship. Orual has done to Psyche exactly what Ansit has refused to do to Bardia, and it has ruined both of their lives.

Oh, Queen Orual, I begin to think you know nothing of love.... Perhaps you who spring from the gods love like the gods. Like the Shadowbrute. They say the loving and the devouring are all one, don’t they? ...You’re full fed. Gorged with other men’s lives, women’s too: Bardia’s, mine, the Fox’s, your sister’s—both your sisters’.

Related Characters: Ansit (speaker), Orual (The Queen), Psyche (Istral), Redival, The Fox, Bardia, The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Related Symbols: Ungit
Page Number: 264-65
Explanation and Analysis:

When the Queen is visiting Ansit after Bardia’s death, Ansit accuses her of devouring the lives of everyone she’s ever loved. She speculates that, since the royal family is supposed to have divine blood, the Queen loves in a similar way to the gods. In the Great Offering in which Psyche was sacrificed, the Priest of Ungit said that the Shadowbrute would both lie with and devour Psyche, and now Ansit likens Orual’s love to that of the Shadowbrute.

The Shadowbrute is linked to Ungit, who is also associated with this devouring love. Later, the Queen will see herself as Ungit due to the similar way of loving that Ansit perceives here—in this circumstance, the Queen will also wonder if people might see her as the Shadowbrute, which confirms the truth of Ansit’s accusation. Ansit forces Orual to see a part of herself that she has long denied. Orual defines herself by her love for others, so she doesn’t want to acknowledge that her possessive love destroys the lives of those she loves. However, this is the essential self-realization that she must come to accept in order to fulfill the god’s prophecy and become purified.

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Ansit Character Timeline in Till We Have Faces

The timeline below shows where the character Ansit appears in Till We Have Faces. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 13
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
...to take her in, Orual defends his bravery. However, the Fox argues that Bardia’s wife (Ansit) controls him, and she wouldn’t allow it. Bardia married her for her beauty, and Orual... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 20
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
The Queen begins getting to know her nobles, and she meets Bardia’s wife, Ansit. She expected her to be beautiful, but, in fact, she is not. The Queen tries... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
...for him because she isn’t family. Three days later, she goes to visit his widow, Ansit. She feels like Ansit is her enemy, but also the only person she can talk... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Ansit seems very calm, and she is beautiful in a proud way. The Queen offers words... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
The Queen doesn’t know whether to believe Ansit. She says she’s worked just as much as Bardia did. Ansit replies that women are... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
The Queen spits that she has never had love except from her servants. She thinks Ansit has had all the love she herself hasn’t. However, Ansit feels she only had the... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
This seems so preposterous that the Queen pulls off her veil, asking whether Ansit is jealous of her face. Ansit stares at her, but not in fear of her... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
However, their sympathy doesn’t last long. The Queen puts her veil back on and Ansit’s face hardens again. The Queen says Ansit has had her revenge by calling her Bardia’s... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
The Queen asks whether Ansit can bear doing nothing to keep her loved ones by her. Ansit exclaims that the... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
The Queen imagines torturing Ansit to death. She tells her that the King would have cut her tongue out, but... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
The gods are working on her. The Queen soon realizes that Ansit’s words are true. She has always given Bardia extra work to keep him from leaving... (full context)