Something I found intriguing while reading The Moonstone is how similar it was to other detective works. Especially Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Speckled Band,” a classic Sherlock Holmes story. One main similarity I noticed was that both somehow involved India.
In “The Speckled Band,” the stepfather of the story has a “violence of temper” that is apparently “hereditary,” although his stepdaughter believes it has “been intensified by by his long residence in the tropics,” those tropics being India (Doyle, 2). He also has “a passion…for Indian animals,” (Doyle 3). In The Moonstone, the prologue introduces the moonstone itself by stating “one of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond–a famous gem in the native annals of India,” which establishes the involvement of India right off the bat (Collins, 11).
It is interesting that a foreign country is so present in British literature, even for one under British rule. In addition, both mentions of India have some negative connotation. In “The Speckled Band,” India has worsened the temper of the stepfather, and the end of the story reveals it is one of his Indian animals (a snake) that has acted as the murder weapon. In The Moonstone, the stone said to cause bad luck originates from India and is the cause of most of the suffering in the novel. Victorians clearly have a hostile and racist outlook on foreign countries, especially India, as seen by the portrayals of the country and what comes from it that become detrimental to the supposed stability and prosperity in Britain. At the same time, Victorians are fascinated by different cultures, and as their technology advances, so does their knowledge of nations outside of Britain, as well as their curiosity. So for all the racism and negative attention directed towards India in the detective story, Victorian authors and audiences cannot help but be entertained by their central inclusion in the plot.