The Return of Martin Guerre

by

Natalie Zemon Davis

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Return of Martin Guerre can help.

Michel de Montaigne Character Analysis

Michel de Montaigne was a famous Renaissance French writer who coined the term “essay” (French for “to try”) in regard to his short writings on various moral and philosophical topics. Like Jean de Coras and Guillaume Le Sueur, Montaigne also witnessed the trial of Martin Guerre at Toulouse. He later wrote about the case in his essay “Of the Lame,” in which he argued that people should not be condemned to death when there is a lack of decisive evidence. For example, witches should not be burned because it is impossible to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that someone is a witch. To prove his point, he cited the trial of Martin Guerre, a case in which it was very difficult to prove that one of the men was the “true” Martin. Montaigne thought that the case “far-exceeded…our knowledge,” demonstrating his intellectual humility and skepticism.

Michel de Montaigne Quotes in The Return of Martin Guerre

The The Return of Martin Guerre quotes below are all either spoken by Michel de Montaigne or refer to Michel de Montaigne . 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:
Identity and Property Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harvard University Press edition of The Return of Martin Guerre published in 1983.
Chapter 12 Quotes

Montaigne insists how difficult it is to know the truth about things and how uncertain an instrument is human reason. “Truth and falsehood have both alike countenances…Wee beholde them with one same eye.”

Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Return of Martin Guerre LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Return of Martin Guerre PDF

Michel de Montaigne Character Timeline in The Return of Martin Guerre

The timeline below shows where the character Michel de Montaigne appears in The Return of Martin Guerre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Narrative and Authority Theme Icon
Women, Honor, and Power Theme Icon
...Bertrande were summoned before the court for the last time. The famous essayist Michel de Montaigne was in attendance. Arnaud maintained to the end of the trial that he was the... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Nature of Evidence Theme Icon
Michel de Montaigne, a famous writer and essayist, had witnessed the trial at Toulouse as a young man.... (full context)
The Nature of Evidence Theme Icon
Montaigne thought that the case “far-exceeded…our knowledge,” and he suggested that the judge was not empowered... (full context)