The novel questions whether it is better or worse to live in a system with a universally accepted morality. Edward's suppression of his love for Nancy, which he sees as moral, destroys him. Leonora's desire to always keep up the appearances of a perfect marriage, which she sees as moral, prevents her from finding love. Finally, everyone's desire to keep Dowell from knowing the truth about his wife's deception forces him into a virtual nervous breakdown. In the end, Dowell feels "horribly alone" with "nothing to guide" him through the "subtle morality of all other personal contacts, associations, and activities."