In the heart of the stone

As we (y’all) discussed in class, Betteredge has very surface level opinions on most things and I think that applies to his and other characters’ knowledge on the moonstone as well. They are concerned only about the appearance and the worth of this stone, but are completely ignorant of, even have no care for its religious and cultural value or the consequences of displacing it.

This is the passage where we get the grand reveal of the moonstone:
“Lord bless us! it was a Diamond! As large, or nearly, as a plover’s egg! The light that streamed from it was like the light of the harvest moon. When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else. It seemed unfathomable; this jewel, that you could hold between your finger and thumb seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves. We set it in the sun, and then shut the light out of the room, and it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark.” (Collins 74)
In Betteredge’s narrative, he focuses mainly on the its size, glow and how much it resembles the moon, but he seems to be unaware of (or choose to turn away from) the the origin of the moonstone: it was set in the forehead of the Indian God of moon and was “supposed to be affected by the lunar influences” (12). Betteredge does address how the moonstone “seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves” (74) but fails to see that it might possess some sort of divine agency. If it can be taken literally that the stone is “affected by lunar influences”, I found a website (reliable or not I don’t know) that tells me the moon phase on Rachel’s birthday, 06/21/1848, and that is a 74% full moon, which to me sounds strong enough to induce an unpleasant dinner party through the moonstone. Maybe this idea will recur in the rest of the novel, but if not, the link is attached just for fun.

Based on Franklin’s observation on the moonstone, there is “a defect, in the shape of a flaw, in the very heart of the stone” (50). Apart from the physical defect, the stone is said to be cursed as well; it is said to punish and avenge those who lay their hands on it. If the stone is affected by the moon, and punishment is even predicted by a deity (Vishnu the Preserver), it seems to imply that divine power punishes the immoral in this case.

Betteredge and the other characters are depicted as ignorant intruders who take what’s sacred in another culture without knowing its true value and power. They are trying to take possession of something that is beyond their knowledge and control. I’m curious to read on and see if there will be any more obvious supernatural interference in the story.

2 thoughts on “In the heart of the stone”

  1. This is such an interesting analysis! I love the idea of the moonstone having a kind of agency through its connection to the divine, and you do a great job of providing evidence for that claim. I think there is a parallel here between the disappearance of the moonstone from Rachel’s cabinet and the way John Herncastle ‘acquired’ it in India. Until Sergeant Cuff arrives, everyone assumes the diamond has been stolen, and they do everything in their power to find it and restore it to her possession. However, no one seems to realize or care that Herncastle (and subsequently Rachel) acquired the moonstone by stealing it from its home in India. Similarly to how the characters try to find and restore the moonstone to Rachel, perhaps the diamond is trying to restore itself to its home in India, through divine power acting through it.

  2. I love how you searched for the moon at the time of Rachel’s birthday. That is so fascinating. Whether the website is reliable or not, it made me wonder if the moonstone itself could cause people to do things they are unaware of. Perhaps, since the moon was so strong that night, the moonstone could do its own bidding through the character is Lady Verinder’s house. This may just be a wild notion, but I think it’s interesting to think about.

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