Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneSecond Period First Narrative Chapters 7 8 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Second Period, First Narrative, Chapters 7–8 : The Discovery of the Truth (1848–1849) | Summary

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Summary

First Narrative, Chapter 7

A month passes. Miss Drusilla Clack mentions she did not attend Lady Julia Verinder's funeral as she did not feel up to it, nor did she approve of the rector presiding over the service. Rachel Verinder is under the guardianship of Mr. Ablewhite, Godfrey Ablewhite's father. She is to take up residence in Brighton with Mrs. Ablewhite and Miss Clack.

All is going well until Mr. Mathew Bruff arrives from London. Miss Clack does her best to keep Mr. Bruff and Rachel apart but is unable to stop them from going for a walk. The following morning Miss Clack attempts to find out what Rachel and Bruff discussed. When Clack mentions Ablewhite, Rachel bursts out, "I SHALL NEVER MARRY MR. GODFREY ABLEWHITE."

Miss Clack leaves the house for a walk, and when she returns she finds that Ablewhite has arrived earlier than expected. He informs her that Rachel has broken their engagement, and that he has submitted to her wishes without complaint. He begins to tell her his side of the story.

First Narrative, Chapter 8

Godfrey Ablewhite tells Miss Clack he doesn't know why he proposed to Rachel to the neglect of his charity ladies. He planned to break off the engagement with Rachel that very day. She saved him from having to do it. He expresses his relief. Clack attributes this awakening to his better nature reasserting itself. Then he takes the train back to London to tell his father of the broken engagement.

The next day brings Mr. Ablewhite to Brighton, where he is surprised to encounter Mr. Bruff. Mr. Ablewhite seeks confirmation from Rachel of what Godfrey Ablewhite told him; Rachel confirms it. When he demands to know why, Rachel tells him the same thing she told Ablewhite: "Reflection [has] convinced me that I should best consult his welfare and mine by retracting a rash promise, and leaving him free to make his choice elsewhere."

Ablewhite grows angry with Rachel's lack of real response and blames her pride for jilting Ablewhite. Miss Clack tries to intervene by reading a passage from a pamphlet, but Ablewhite curses her. When Rachel reminds Ablewhite that Miss Clack is a guest in the house, he tells them both it is his house and asks Rachel to leave.

Bruff and Rachel leave. Miss Clack protests, asking to be Rachel's guardian instead so that she can make a Christian of her and save her soul, as she tried to do for Rachel's mother. Rachel and Mr. Bruff are offended; they never speak to Miss Clack again.

Analysis

Miss Drusilla Clack redoubles her efforts to ingratiate herself with Rachel Verinder in the hopes of converting her. Her hypocrisy is once again touched upon in Chapter 7. She doesn't attend Lady Julia Verinder's funeral, not only because she doesn't feel well but also because she did not approve of the service. She pays lip service to Christian beliefs but chooses not to act on them. In this, she and Godfrey Ablewhite are similar, which is why he takes up a significant chunk of her narrative.

In addition, Miss Clack's interest in Rachel is rather predatory. Whether she is interested in money or simply good gossip remains to be seen. When she sees Rachel again, she does her best to get Rachel to speak about her engagement to Ablewhite, but Rachel confounds her. Later she intimates that one of her motives for converting Rachel is so she will know all her secrets. Miss Clack is all about the appearance of the thing, to an even greater extent than Gabriel Betteredge, while being less concerned with the actual being.

Ablewhite easily falls into this category as well. In Chapter 8 he feeds Miss Clack a story designed to flatter and charm her, while coloring himself in a more heroic light to stave off any unfortunate rumors that might reach her ears. He claims he planned to break off his engagement to Rachel after a resurgence of his charitable Christian feelings, but that she beat him to it. He is telling Miss Clack the story she wants to hear and will most easily believe. He even goes so far as to cross the boundaries Franklin Blake laid out and comment about events that have not yet occurred.

While readers do not know what Mr. Mathew Bruff confided to Rachel that made it impossible for her to marry Ablewhite, he is a prime suspect in the theft of the Moonstone. As for the Moonstone's curse, readers can add a broken engagement to the growing list of unfortunate events associated with it.

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