O Moonstone! My Moonstone!

In chapter 9 of Moonstone, when the family sees the Moonstone for the first time the scene insinuates a higher, potentially religious, power associated with the stone. In its physical likeness, the stone is compared to the “harvest moon” from the “light that streamed from it” (74). Additionally, Betteredge details “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” (74). In this way, the stone is compared with the “heavens themselves” and its being tangible was so “unfathomable” to the onlooker that could barely comprehend its presence (74). The family also sets the stone in the darkness, to which they discover it “shone awfully out of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark”, another fantastical element to the stone’s description that suggests its containment of some type of magical property that allows it to glow in the dark (74).

Aside from the physical descriptions of the stone, the family’s reactions to its glowing beauty are portrayed in emotions and actions of awe, emulating religious stories of being in the presence of God. Betteredge bursts out an “O” himself and Miss Rachel is enamored with the stone (74). Even Mr. Godfrey, who, although is the only one “who kept his senses”, wraps his arm around his sisters’ waists “looking compassionately backwards and forwards between the Diamond and me” (74). The family gawks at the stone in such a way that is similar to that of biblical descriptions of when God reveals himself to his followers through objects, like the burning bush. In this passage, the Moonstone is held with such high regard it sets a contrast between Betteredge’s later description of the stone and its effect on the family upon its being lost. 

As the novel progresses, this passage sets the tone of the family’s interaction with the stone. In their first encounter, it seems they become obsessed with the stone. Although this is not explicitly described, the fantastical tone upon their first sight of it suggests the fascination and obsession with the stone that begins to tear at the bonds of the house upon its going missing. Later in the novel, when the stone is discovered to have gone missing, Betteredge blames the stone for creating a deep negative energy in the house that causes Rachel to shut herself off from everyone, his lady to be in constant distress, Penelope to be on edge and defensive against accusations made of her, and insults the servants to being the subject of repeated searches. Betteredge and the family’s love for the stone turn the household cold and tense, despite initial descriptions of the warm, yellow, “light of the harvest moon” radiating from the stone (74).

3 thoughts on “O Moonstone! My Moonstone!”

  1. Hi, I love your analysis about the physical and emotional effects that the Moonstone has on the people in the novel. Notably, the stone is stolen from the Indians; the readers know that the stone is cursed since the beginning of the novel; and it was Betteredge, an obvious racist to the readers, who describes the stone in such a fantastical way. All of this show how the Moonstone plays into the trope of “an alluring artifact from a land far away with unknown/ungodly magic that will cause tragedy,” which is common not only in fantasy and adventure genres, but also in horror books and films.

  2. I loved how you noted the relationship between the stone and the actions of the characters. It’s clear that the disappearance of the stone caused tension and stress within the house, but it makes me wonder which characters are most affected by the stone’s absence and whether this could point us to a potential thief. It also makes me question why characters like Betteredge place so much blame on the stone for causing Rachel to switch in demeanor. I think this connects to the blog post questioning curses, and how the stone’s mystical capabilities, might serve to deflect or cover for certain racist colonial characters such as Betteredge.

  3. Your post is really interesting, and I liked how you analyzed the change in the characters’ behavior after they see the stone for the first time. Again, we can see a supernatural force that emerges in a calm setting in the English countryside. It made me establish a connection with Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff also unbalances the house when he arrives. The people who live there treat him unfairly when he was a child, mainly because of his appearance. This constant abuse changes Heathcliff. In “The Moonstone”, the characters don’t consider the cultural values of the diamond for the Indians, and don’t return it. In both novels, therefore, the attitude towards the outside forces is superficial, taking into consideration the diamond’s value and Heathcliff’s appearance. The result is somehow like a karma, which keeps perpetuating through the characters.

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