Analysis

In these chapters, Betteredge's narrative skims over a time period of several weeks, stopping only to report important events. One of the characteristics of a detective novel is that nearly every element of the narrative will relate to the investigation and resolution of the crime. Details which seem out of place now—such as Rachel's and Franklin's painting of Rachel's bedroom door—will be seen to bear upon events related to the crime. This rule of inclusion also includes descriptive detail. When Betteredge describes Rachel, his seemingly unremarkable anecdote of her refusal as a child to tell on another playmate will turn out to work as Rachel's main function in the novel.

In these chapters, the romantic interest between Franklin and Rachel is set up. Collins is somewhat remarkable as a Victorian novelist in that his heroes and heroines (as well as his minor characters) are not unrealistically idealized. Franklin is shown to have his character flaws—specifically, his inability to put forth a unified character. Betteredge repeatedly emphasizes the contradictoriness of Franklin's various (European) sides and his ineffectual "dabbling in everything." Betteredge's description of Rachel certainly gives an impression of her beauty. Betteredge's dissatisfactions with Rachel's various features are clearly not meant to be taken seriously by us, yet the entire effect is still to acknowledge that beauty is evaluated individually. Thus Rachel is not presented as the unquestionably gorgeous heroine of other Victorian novels.

No single narrator of The Moonstone is meant to be respected as an absolute authority. Yet some narrators are meant to be read more seriously than others. With the narrative of Betteredge (and Miss Clack, the second narrator), we can see some distance between the author and the narrator. In other words, the narrator is himself being satirized to some extent by the larger figure of the author. When Betteredge expresses his opinions that Godfrey Ablewhite will win Rachel's heart over Franklin Blake, or that Rosanna's love for Franklin is laughable, we are not meant to agree with him. Elements of the text signal this to us, such as specific details like Ablewhite's birthday verses for Rachel, which are shown to be laughable in the eyes of other characters. In addition, in this instance, Betteredge's daughter Penelope emerges as a figure of narrative authority—when Betteredge relates their disagreements, we realize that Penelope's opinions are valid.

Already in these early chapters, hallucinogenic drugs and drugged states of mind emerge as a recurring motif. The bottle of black liquid dropped by the three Indians that Betteredge finds is meant to evoke opium or another substance used to achieve an altered state of mind (as with the young English boy's entranced, clairvoyant state). The motif occurs even in the symbol of Rachel's decorated door paneling. The painting itself could be said to be of the "grotesque" genre, in which plants blend into animals in imagery that is simultaneously realistic and unrealistic. Thus the imagery itself pictures an altered state from reality. Additionally, Betteredge, evoking a drugged state of mind, remarks "you felt [the images] unpleasantly in your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them."