The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Epilogue : The Finding of the Diamond | Summary

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Summary

The Epilogue is composed of three numbered sections. The first, "The Statement of Sergeant Cuff's Man (1849)," is a simple statement from an investigator tracking the Indians to the steamer headed for Bombay.

The steamboat captain offers his statement in the second section, "The Statement of the Captain (1849)." The steamer got delayed off the coast of India because of bad weather. He noticed one of the rowboats was missing, as well as three Indians. He assumed they rowed to shore. He was not aware of the reason for their escape until the steamboat docked.

The third section is entitled "The Statement of Mr. Murthwaite (1850)—(In a Letter to Mr. Bruff)." Murthwaite had traveled to India and visited Somnauth, a Hindu shrine. He witnessed a ceremony to the moon-god. Three Indians who had "forfeited their caste in service of the god" were leaving on a pilgrimage of purification. Once they left, a curtain parted to reveal the god of the moon with the Moonstone once again resting in his forehead. Murthwaite ends with the thought that the English have "lost sight of it for ever."

Analysis

The Moonstone returns to India. Mr. Murthwaite, once again straddling the two worlds of Imperial Britain and India, bears witness to its return. His narrative closes the framing device of the novel. It opened in India with the sack of Seringapatam, the murder of three Indian guards by an Englishman, and the theft of a spiritual treasure. It ends with the treasure returned to its rightful place and the three Indian Brahmins undergoing a quest to cleanse themselves.

The theft of the Moonstone is a symbol of the larger crime done to India by the British Empire. The Indians are not portrayed as savages, and the conquering army is not bringing freedom (the general had to specifically discipline soldiers for looting during the siege). The Brahmins are noble, self-sacrificing men, who give up their caste to return the Diamond to India. Godfrey Ablewhite and John Herncastle are the thieves. Wilkie Collins upends the typical colonial narrative, so that The Moonstone can be read as a criticism of British Imperialism.

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