"Of course we argue sometimes. Marriage is a long journey in close quarters. Of course nerves get frayed. Every married person is a Jekyll and Hyde, they've got to be."

Arnold Baffin makes this statement at the beginning of Part One, when he is trying to explain to Bradley why he and Rachel fought. Arnold believes that although he and Rachel argue, their marriage can sustain any blow. Rachel later articulates the same notion when she explains why she and Arnold will always remain married, despite their interest in possibly having affairs. Ironically, Rachel's eventual murder of Arnold will prove all of their statements wrong. Their marriage, like that of Priscilla and Roger and Bradley and Christian, is doomed to fail. Murdoch's commentary on marriage in the novel portrays it as an impractical institution. Bradley specifically argues that the idea of marriage is inconsistent with human behavior, since the human soul cannot stand to live in such close proximity to another. Bradley further suggests that marriages lead the individual partners to become mired in loneliness, even though they live as part of a unit.