After all of our debating in class as to what gives precious jewels like diamonds, particularly the Moonstone, its seemingly inherent priceless value, I got to thinking. The Moonstone (the jewel) is obviously priceless because of its religious iconicity; it’s particularly sought after because it’s a relic of sacredness that is safe in no one person’s hands. But what I also began to realize as I continued reading the book is that, because it’s so sought after and because it’s so valuable, it’s cursed!
Firstly, I think I started to feel this way expressly because of how the novel is written. As we’ve discussed in class, it’s written so as not to offer the reader an omniscient view of the plot. We as readers feel enveloped in the mystique of the storyline, the seemingly unanswerable question—who stole the gem? Because we don’t know this throughout most of the story, and also because we are in a way involved in the storyline as well (not having a sense of what’s to happen next, being on essentially the same level as the characters), we “witness” all the horrifying and mystifying events that unfold because of the cursed gem. Hateful allegations, panic, suicide, unbeknownst drug abuse—the list goes on! It’s almost as if the gem is punishing everyone around it because it had been stolen by Colonel Herncastle, but also because, either way you slice it, it’s likely in the wrong hands.
No matter what anyone does, the fact that the Moonstone’s been stolen time and time again is a truth that’s become an inevitable burden on everyone even remotely involved. In chapter 4 (sorry, I don’t have a page number–I’m using the Project Gutenberg edition) Rosanna uses the removed stain on Betteredge’s shirt as a metaphor for this exact idea. “The stain is taken off,” she says, “But the place shows, Mr Betteredge—the place shows!”
Throughout the story I also couldn’t help but notice references to the past—however explicit or subtle. Being that most of the characters offer their own perspectives of the past—either through their own documented accounts or purely by memory—we must piece together our own opinions of their relationships with the gem. It seems to me that the Moonstone not only represents sacredness and untouchability, but also the past itself: It has its own rich history, characters are frequently trying to recollect what they know about it and its whereabouts, and we as readers frequently backtrack to look for clues as to who could have stolen it from Rachel.
What do you guys think?