Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneFirst Period Chapters 1 2 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | First Period, Chapters 1–2 : The Loss of the Diamond (1848) | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 1

This first section of the novel is subtitled "The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder." Betteredge has been tasked by Franklin Blake, Lady Verinder's nephew, to write down his recollection of the events surrounding the disappearance of the Moonstone in 1848. Blake plans to use Betteredge's narrative, along with others connected with the Diamond, to narrate the events of the loss and subsequent rediscovery of the Moonstone. Betteredge consults his copy of Robinson Crusoe for guidance before he begins. It is his habit always to refer to the novel in times of need.

Chapter 2

Betteredge introduces his employer, Lady Julia Verinder. She is the daughter of Sir Herncastle and the youngest of three sisters. Her brother is the John Herncastle from the Prologue. Betteredge has worked for the Verinders his entire life. Lady Verinder has a daughter named Rachel; Betteredge's daughter Penelope grows up with Rachel and eventually becomes her maid.

Analysis

Gabriel Betteredge is the narrator of the First Period of The Moonstone. He details the rules Franklin Blake outlined to him for the narrative, making Blake a kind of editor within the framing device of the story, and possibly another level of narrative unreliability because he's the one compiling everyone's narratives.

Betteredge's narration is rife with references to his favorite book, Robinson Crusoe, which he uses as his bible, consulting it in times of stress or trouble. His reliance on the text is an endearing, humorous trait. Readers are supposed to like Betteredge and find him a sympathetic character. He's meant to be rambling and bit ridiculous. As a narrator he is intensely loyal to the Verinders. As such, readers must bear in mind his narrative will be colored by his feelings.

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