Her veil is for modesty, purity and honor. She does not hide. The veil symbolizes her fidelity, and while she is hidden, her character is not unknown. She is a vestal virgin, and her veil is her mark. This sculpture is a breathtaking example of the work of Raffaele Monti (1818-1881); it almost looks like he created this from the inside out. The veil not only keeps her identity cloaked, but it also keeps her focus within. The one under the veil cannot see as clearly as one who is unveiled, this allows her to think of and focus only on the service she performs. The sculpture is featured in Joe Wright’s rendition of Pride and Prejudice, in a powerful scene where Elizabeth identifies with the statue and realizes her own distorted vision towards Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth sees, perhaps for the first time, that her opinion of Mr. Darcy was influenced by the veil of her own pride and prejudice toward him.
Veils aren’t exactly common as apparel in our society, though the internet provides another sort of veil to us. Opinions can be freely rendered in the world of the web without the necessity of owning up to them. While this makes sense in certain circumstances (paying a compliment without looking like a sycophant), it may not always. The benefit of anonymity is the freedom of expression it affords. While society espouses the notion of free exchange of ideas, we all know that there is such a thing as political capital, and an offensive idea can burn through a lot of that rather quickly. The detriment of anonymity, however, is the speed with which thoughtful exchanges can devolve into sarcastic and generally less productive discussions. The freedom of anonymity can have the unfortunate side-effect of blinding the author.
The first week of law school, a professor received an anonymous email from a class member. She stood in front of us and said, quite simply: “In the legal profession, we sign our names to things. Court filings, memos and other correspondence bear our names. Signing our names ensures we take extra care with our words; we bear the responsibility for those words.” I do not necessarily advocate full disclosure of identity in the blogosphere. What I do think important to consider is what the freedom afforded by anonymity causes. As with any freedom, there is the potential to yield both good and bad fruit.