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The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Quotes


Partly from its peculiar color, partly from a superstition which represented it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing and lessening in luster with the waxing and waning of the moon, it first gained the name by which it continues to be known in India to this day—the name of THE MOONSTONE.

Narrator, Prologue

The Moonstone is already associated with superstition in its first appearance. Its luster is dependent on the phases of the moon and the Indian deity associated with it. The Moonstone is associated with the spiritual and supernatural.


The more money he had, the more he wanted; there was a hole in Mr. Franklin's pocket that nothing would sew up.

Gabriel Betteredge, First Period, Chapter 3

Outstanding debt is a motive that appears throughout the novel. Because of his debt and his other unconventional ways, Franklin Blake is a suspect at certain times, and this initial description of him makes readers wonder about his character.


Add to this that, plain as she was, there was just a dash of something that wasn't like a housemaid, and that WAS like a lady, about her.

Gabriel Betteredge, First Period, Chapter 4

Rosanna Spearman is an outsider. She's a former thief and a servant but carries herself like a lady. She doesn't fit into any particular class; instead, she exists at the fringes. This quote begins the process of othering her, or excluding her from society.


The stain is taken off ... But the place shows, Mr. Betteredge—the place shows!

Rosanna Spearman, First Period, Chapter 4

One of the ideas that thread through The Moonstone is the idea of the past coming back to haunt the present. Rosanna Spearman captures this idea when she exclaims that she can never outrun her past as a thief, no matter what she does or how good she is.


It looks as if it had hundreds of suffocating people under it—all struggling to get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the dreadful deeps!

Rosanna Spearman, First Period, Chapter 4

Throughout the narrative, characters refer to the quicksand as having a face or faces. This is the first example, with the horrific image of hundreds of people all caught within its clutches. This image and the language exhibit the sensational elements of the story.


This question has two sides ... An Objective side, and a Subjective side. Which are we to take?

Franklin Blake, First Period, Chapter 6

Franklin Blake is the first amateur detective of the narrators. He is using a classic detective trope in this quote to try to get to the meat of the question. Subjectivity implies that findings are colored by a person's perception and feelings. Objectivity relates to the strict realm of logic and what the senses detect. These two ideas are brought up again and again within the text.


She was unlike most other girls of her age, in this—that she had ideas of her own, and was stiff-necked enough to set the fashions themselves at defiance, if the fashions didn't suit her views. In trifles, this independence of hers was all well enough; but in matters of importance, it carried her (as my lady thought, and as I thought) too far.

Gabriel Betteredge, First Period, Chapter 8

Gabriel Betteredge gives one of the first descriptions of Rachel Verinder. Just as Rosanna Spearman has something that sets her apart from the other servants, so, too, does Rachel, setting her apart from other young ladies. Rachel never gets to narrate, so readers must rely on the other narrators to describe her personality. Rachel sounds self-possessed, the kind of person to follow her own counsel.


If you will look about you (which most people won't do) ... you will see that the nature of a man's tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of a man's business.

Sergeant Cuff, First Period, Chapter 12

Wilkie Collins often presents to his readers the conflict between "seeming" and "being." Sergeant Cuff's statement encapsulates this idea of man appearing to be different than he actually is. It also reinforces his role as detective and observing what few others even bother to look for.


I never see Rachel myself without wondering how it can be that so insignificant-looking a person should be the child of such distinguished parents as Sir John and Lady Verinder.

Drusilla Clack, Second Period, First Narrative, Chapter 1

This quote is an example of the difference in opinion expressed through narration. Miss Drusilla Clack is an unreliable narrator whose impressions and opinions are not trustworthy. Likewise, her thoughts about Rachel Verinder are to be carefully examined for bias.


Badly as appearances might look, in the matter of the Diamond ... I was satisfied nevertheless that she had done nothing unworthy of her, because I was also satisfied that she had not stirred a step in the business, without shutting herself up in her own mind, and thinking it over first.

Mathew Bruff, Second Period, Second Narrative, Chapter 1

Mathew Bruff has an alternate and more complimentary view of Rachel Verinder. As a long-time employee and friend of the family, he has more insight into her mind and trusts the rightness of her decisions.


I am bound to testify that he was the perfect model of a client. He might not have respected my life. But he did what none of my own countrymen had ever done, in all my experience of them—he respected my time.

Mathew Bruff, Second Period, Second Narrative, Chapter 2

Mathew Bruff refers to his visit from one of the Indians. This quote is complimentary toward the "foreigner," even praising the Indian above Englishmen such as Septimus Luker. The Indians are afforded the benefits of their high caste as Brahmins because they know how to behave themselves properly in public.


I saw the preliminary heaving of the Sand, and then the awful shiver that crept over its surface—as if some spirit of terror lived and moved and shuddered in the fathomless deeps beneath.

Franklin Blake, Second Period, Third Narrative, Chapter 3

The Shivering Sand is one of the visuals common to a sensation novel, which Wilkie Collins is famous for writing. The quicksand is meant to evoke horror and dread, something to chill and sicken. The reference to physical features personifies it, giving it a kind of slow, malevolent intelligence, increasing the sense of dread.


His gipsy-complexion, his fleshless cheeks, his gaunt facial bones, his dreamy eyes, his extraordinary parti-coloured hair, the puzzling contradiction between his face and figure which made him look old and young both together—were all more or less calculated to produce an unfavorable impression of him on a stranger's mind.

Franklin Blake, Second Period, Third Narrative, Chapter 9

Ezra Jennings's description is striking and earns him the mistrust of Penelope Betteredge and a number of other characters in the novel. Jennings straddles the line between different worlds or social classes. He also appears one way but is secretly another. It emphasizes his "otherness" by being contradictory: old and young, dark and light.


The one effectual palliative in my case, is—opium. To that all-potent and all-merciful drug I am indebted for a respite of many years from my sentence of death. But even the virtues of opium have their limit. The progress of the disease has gradually forced me from the use of opium to the abuse of it. I am feeling the penalty at last. My nervous system is shattered; my nights are nights of horror.

Ezra Jennings, Second Period, Third Narrative, Chapter 9

Wilkie Collins introduces the opium use of Ezra Jennings in a sympathetic way. Jennings functions as a medium for Collins (whose illnesses compelled him to use opium as well) to insert some personal experience into the narrative. His depiction of Jennings's opium addiction came from his own personal struggles with the drug.


Let my grave be forgotten. Give me your word of honor that you will allow no monument of any sort—not even the commonest tombstone—to mark the place of my burial. Let me sleep, nameless. Let me rest, unknown.

Ezra Jennings, Second Period, Seventh Narrative

Ezra Jennings and Rosanna Spearman act as foils to Franklin Blake and Rachel Verinder. Each is the dark side to the other's coin. Ezra wishes to end his life like Rosanna did hers, unremarked and unremembered. Rosanna does not have a grave marker, either. The fringe/foil characters die, taking their curses to their graves, while Franklin and Rachel go on to live free of their curse, the Moonstone.

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