The Moonstone

by: Wilkie Collins

Motifs

Editorial Presence

Franklin's presence as editor is apparent at selective moments in The Moonstone. It arises mainly in the form of footnotes but also in narrators' accounts of instructional conversations with him. The implications of his presence are twofold. First, it serves to remind us that the driving force of all of these narratives is to clear Franklin Blake's name of suspicion. Second, it encourages us to read the text of The Moonstone non-linearly. Franklin will often step in to refer us back to another section of another narrative for a different (or corroborating) viewpoint on the same facts. Thus the experience of reading The Moonstone becomes a comparative, revisionist one.

Outcast Counterparts

Rosanna Spearman and Ezra Jennings exist as their own characters, yet also as the tragic, outcast counterparts to the respectable Victorian hero and heroine, Franklin and Rachel. Rosanna is aligned with Rachel in her love for Franklin, as well as her quick intelligence. Jennings is aligned with Franklin through his non-English background, his imaginative capacity, and his tragic history of being falsely accused of a crime he didn't commit. Rosanna and Jennings are both dead by the end of the novel. There is a sense that they exist to show the possibility of what could have happened to Rachel and Franklin if things had gone differently (for example, if Franklin had not acquitted himself of the theft of the diamond and had to wander around England away from his love and running from damaging rumors). Thus the deaths of Rosanna and Jennings are necessary to the harmonious closure of the novel in which Rachel and Franklin triumph against adversity.

Skepticism and Mysticism

Franklin Blake, when explaining the superstitious history to a skeptical Betteredge in Chapter VI of the First Period, supports his own belief in the superstition by saying, "But then I am an imaginative man; and the butcher, the baker, and the tax-gatherer, are not the only credible realities in existence to my mind." When this statement was made, Franklin and Betteredge would have both had in mind Franklin's often-referred-to foreign education. A dichotomy is set up in The Moonstone between characters with non-English backgrounds and the accompanying imaginativeness or mysticism that comes from this (like Ezra Jennings, Franklin Blake, or the Indians), and the solidly English characters who seek logical explanations for supernatural phenomena and are, consequently, adverse to imaginative explanations (such as Betteredge and Mr. Bruff).

Addiction

Several critics have remarked that the novelty of The Moonstone lies in the fact that it is a story that hinges on opium and features an opium addict, as told by another opium addict—Wilkie Collins himself. Indeed, addiction of various sorts crop up in The Moonstone. Ezra Jennings and John Herncastle are both opium addicts. Franklin Blake and Gabriel Betteredge are tobacco addicts. We might even say that Miss Clack is addicted to the distribution of her Christian pamphlets, as this action is presented as something that Miss Clack requires to make her feel normal and satisfied.