After comparing The Moonstone with Bleak House and elaborating the “novel of ideas” presented in The Moonstone, I’m going to talk about other typical Wilkie’s techniques, components and traits found in this novel.
First of all, that is the sensationalism of the Novel. Apart from the plot and the ideas that trigger readers’ interests, Wilkie also uses different voices to make it sound more interesting and indulging. It is the narrations of different characters that instill the reality to the story. The narration of Gabriel Betteredge, Miss Clack, Mr. Bruff, Franklin Blake, Ezra Jennings, Mr, Candy, Mr. Murthwaite and so forth, added extra flavour and vivacity to the unveiling of mystery. It is the characters in control of the circumstances other than exerting the importance of a plot-driven narration. The Novel is monological in giving subjective opinions, viewpoints and experiences, rather than reflecting the mystery on the objective matters and the indication of the facts and events, as well as “speaking a master-voice that corrects, overrides, subordinates, or sublates all other voices it allows to speak“.
For example see the lines of Gabriel Betteredge on a chapter in “The Loss of the Diamond”:
- I hear you are likely to be turned over to Miss Clack, after parting with me. In that case, just do me the favour of not believing a word she says, if she speaks of your humble servant.
Wilkie used so many pronouns to grab readers’ attentions thereby clouding a thicker mist over the mystery. The resolution seemed to work more unknown to them already when trying to find out the perpetrator on the suspicion of theft. Besides, in those first-hand account, only the irritable Miss Clack stood in defense of ill-famed Godfrey, that it subjectively made you think that it was him who steal the Diamond.
Moreover, I especially like the humour of Chapter VI in “The Discovery of the Truth” narrated and recorded by Miss Clack in endeavoring to do herself justice:
- “(4.) “Mr. Franklin Blake is sorry to disappoint Miss Clack…She is requested to limit herself to her own individual experience of persons and events, as recorded in her diary. Later discoveries she will be good enough to leave to the pens of those persons who can write in the capacity of actual witnesses.”
- (5.) “Miss Clack is extremely sorry to trouble Mr. Franklin Blake with another letter… But, no—Miss C. has learnt Perseverance in the School of Adversity. Her object in writing is to know whether Mr. Blake (who prohibits everything else) prohibits the appearance of the present correspondence in Miss Clack’s narrative? Some explanation of the position in which Mr. Blake’s interference has placed her as an authoress, seems due on the ground of common justice. And Miss Clack, on her side, is most anxious that her letters should be produced to speak for themselves.””
Not until this correspondence ends does Miss Clack reserves her passionate yet humble criticisms and teachings on her lovely friends.
Secondly, it is the sacrifice and sympathies the readers may feel towards the characters that make the glamour of the story complete, for instance, the deformity and unrequited love of Rosanna Spearman. On the other hand, her resolution and sacrifice of the truth for the sake of Franklin Blake which is shown in her letter of confession also demonstrate her independence and toughness of the character. Wilkie undertakes a mission again to demonstrate the women’s strength in major female characters like Rosanna and Rachel, as well as weaknesses, for example, in the characters in female servants in The Moonstone. As of Ezra Jennings, those would be his loneliness, misunderstandings by other persons against him, and sacrifice for his friend Franklin Blake (again) that arouse readers’ sympathies:
- “Let my grave be forgotten. Give me your word of honour 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.”
So is the case of Rachel Verinder for the sacrifice of the truth for Franklin (yet again). Her self-independence and shame becomes unendurable to herself, and she has been braving public opinion at the command of private feeling:
- The first instinct of girls in general, on being told of anything which interests them, is to ask a multitude of questions, and then to run off, and talk it all over with some favourite friend. Rachel Verinder’s first instinct, under similar circumstances, was to shut herself up in her own mind, and to think it over by herself. This absolute self-dependence is a great virtue in a man. In a woman it has a serious drawback of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. (sociolinguistic notion)
I find that even though we always ultimately find out the secret and the truth behind the mystery, all characters, even the villain ones, always have something to be pitied of, and they all have forgivable reasons behind their motives.
After finishing this novel, I will embark on a journey to join a short course on Wilkie Collins and other sensation novel writers. It is going to be an interesting one. And of course I determine to read more of his novels after the trip!