Women as a Site of Exploitation in Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone | An Analysis of Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone | TU Thesis
Exploitation of Women in Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone | How to Write a Thesis
Wilkie Collins and Her Literary Career
William Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824 and grew up in the company of artists and writers. Naming their son after his godfather, the popular artist Sir David Wilkie, the Collinses counted Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth among their acquaintances. Collins’s father, a respected landscape artist, was hardworking and intensely religious, though probably not as severe as the ostentatiously pious Christians that Collins would later lampoon in his fiction. When he began attending private school at age 11, Wilkie was a good student but not a happy one. The brutality of his education was mercifully interrupted by a two-year family trip to Paris and Italy that was a great revelation for the boy. Liberated from the blinders of his parents’ earnest religiosity, Collins reveled in the spicy food, the street life, the horse races, the opera, and the gaudy splendor of Catholic churches. What he learned in Italy seemed more valuable to him than all of his schooling. His return after the trip to an English boarding school was so miserable that his family withdrew him at age 17.
Apprenticed by his father as a clerk for a tea company, Collins showed little interest in commerce, preferring to spend office hours writing poems and plays. He was released from the apprenticeship and sent for legal training in London. When his father died in 1847, Collins kept a promise he had made to write his biography, which received good reviews and was even a modest financial success.
The year 1868 marked both the height of Collins’s literary powers and the beginning of his decline. With the serial publication of The Moonstone, Collins’s monthly following reached, by some estimates, half of London’s population. But as he describes in the book’s preface, the painful gout and the opium required to relieve it were taking an increasing toll on his health. Collins died in 1890.
The Moonstone begins with an extract from a family paper penned by a soldier who wishes to confess a dark secret. Writing from India, where he has taken part in the 1799 storming of Seringapatam, the soldier confesses that during the “excesses” committed by British soldiers during the defeat of Tippoo Sultan, his cousin John Herncastle murdered three Indians guarding the legendary diamond, the moonstone, in order to pocket the diamond for himself. The Indians were Brahmins charged with a divine command to watch over the moonstone until it could be retrieved from Muslim hands, the stone having been taken from a sacred Hindu temple during Muslim conquest.(6) When Herncastle returns to England with the diamond, he is followed by three new Brahmins who continue to keep watch over the diamond, waiting for the chance to reclaim it. Herncastle bequeaths the diamond to his niece, Rachel Verinder, upon his death, perhaps with the intention of passing on the gem’s curse in revenge for Lady Verinder’s shunning him after his return from India.
Rachel is one of the central characters of the novel. You might even think of her as the romantic heroine, since she’s the pretty girl that everyone wants to marry. Yet we never hear the story from her point of view. Why is that? Well, for one thing, it would spoil the suspense: she knows from the beginning that Franklin Blake took the Moonstone, although she doesn’t know the reason why. And she keeps that knowledge to herself for most of the book, right up until Franklin forces her to speak out.
When Gabriel Betteredge first describes her, he compares her to “other girls of her age,” saying that “she judged for herself, as few women of twice her age judge in general” (220.127.116.11). Betteredge describes this as a “defect,” though – it’s not a compliment to say that a young woman is “independent” during the Victorian period. Mr. Bruff thinks so, too, generally speaking. But in Rachel, he considers it a virtue:
This absolute self dependence is a great virtue in a man. In a woman it has the serious drawback of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. I strongly suspect myself of thinking as the rest of the world think in this matter—except in the case of Rachel Verinder. The self- dependence in her character, was one of its virtues in my estimation. (55)
Most women, according to Mr. Bruff, should allow themselves to be guided by outside advice, while it’s good for men, in general, to think for themselves. He’s willing to make an exception for Rachel, though, because he knows that she’s intelligent and sensible enough to make good decisions, even without asking advice.
Even Dickens’ Agnes and Dora in David Copperfield are recognizable as stereotypes, but Collins’s heroines set new standards for the literary depiction of women and their problems. Marion Halcombe is fully independent of men, and Laura Fairlie in The Woman in White functions well at several levels. That Collins’s females violated stereotype is but another indication how carefully he observed women and how he attempted to represent as they really were.
Collins composed his masterworks during one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of English literature. England’s cities and industries were booming, poverty and crime filled the news, melodrama ruled the theaters, and newfound wealth made class barriers increasingly permeable. Dickens had just started his periodical All the Year Round, which helped to bring literature to a mass audience and blur the boundaries between highbrow and middlebrow culture. The new audience demanded a new type of novel, a novel as compelling as the scandalous headlines it competed with at the newsstands, able to keep readers in suspense from month to month and eager to buy the next issue.
While walking a friend home one night Collins had heard a piercing scream from a nearby villa, then saw dashing from the house “the figure of a young and very beautiful young woman dressed in flowing white robes that shone in the moonlight. She seemed to float rather than to run . . . in an attitude of supplication and terror.” Caroline Graves, recently widowed with an infant daughter, said she had been held captive at the house for several months “under threats and mesmeric influence.”
Collins’s novels are peopled with the outcasts of society—ex-prisoners, servants, addicts, the ugly, and the deformed—portrayed in all their humanity, often with greater color and sympathy than the heroes and heroines. Ever a rebel against social pretension, Collins once skipped a formal dinner party to which he had been invited in order to put on casual clothes and stand with the laborers watching the festivities from the street. “In the course of a long experience of Society I never enjoyed a party half as much as I have enjoyed this,” he recalled. The same note of social defiance rings in The Moonstone when Rosanna, despite her class, her physical handicap, and her prison record dares to love and hope for love from the well-heeled hero of the story, Franklin Blake, in competition with the beautiful and wealthy Rachel Verinder. “Suppose you put Miss Rachel into a servant’s dress and took her ornaments off?” Rosanna challenges.
The Moonstone, in particular, ever since the poet Swinburne declared it to be the best of Collins’s novels, has received a great deal of critical attention, although it was perhaps the introduction to the novel written by another poet, T.S. Eliot, which first made it academically fashionable. Thus, for Collins scholars and enthusiasts, who have put so much effort in recent years into editing and promoting his less well-known novels, the announcement of yet another edition of The Moonstone, when so many are already available, is likely to provoke a reaction of discouragement than pleasure. In the case of this new edition by Steve Farmer, however, such a reaction would be completely misplaced. The story seems to be trying to cover several different themes simultaneously. It is at once a classic ghost story and a critique of today’s society, covering the themes of mental illness and racism. In this point Stephen Michael Claims:
This study on The Moonstone is intended to indicate how a damaged-self in formation which befalls the main character. In this point Ian Duncan Claims:
In the story, the protagonist has undergone unpleasant childhood because of being tortured by her friends so that she cannot build her self-confidence. Yet, the most important point to be stuck out in this study is the way to master and banish the trauma. On the one hand, running away from trauma is only meant to delay the trauma not to haunt for a moment. Taking revenge on the cause of the trauma on the other hand is merely to get a pseudo-satisfaction
Through the analysis directed in this thesis, the writer has verified that Elaine, who also copes with her trauma, is at last able to expel her trauma and be a whole person. Different critics have analyzed the novel from the multiple perspectives which preserves the universal nature of novel. To highlight the unique themes of the novel, taking it as a best novel of the year, Asish Roy claims:
Others were upset by the novel’s depiction of the male as abusive, uncaring, and disloyal. Other critics felt that Steven Spielberg, then most associated with films like “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Indiana Jones”, was a poor choice for such a complex social drama, and that the film had changed or eliminated much of the book’s defense of lesbianism (33).
Dave has given skeptic eyes on its trustworthiness. For Roy the novel has the greater degree of efficiency to present the notion of the truth and reality in relation of the society. He says:
Throughout the book and the author describes how courageous protagonist is and how much she works for the rights of women. However, I didn’t really see any evidence of this – as far as I could see the protagonist was driven by her selfish self-interest and nothing else. In fact she comes across as a selfish and not very pleasant person. (94)
Thus, the novel is rich in mirroring the real feature of the social and political reality. The intact representation of the social and political reality in the novel adds the effort of social realism. Though the novel is claimed to be one of the truest stories of the world but many critics like Dave have given skeptic eyes on its trustworthiness. Thus it is proved that though the novel is analysed from multiple perspectives, the issue of racism has been yet untouched, which proves the innovation of the research.
Which factor of the society and politics causes the domination upon the feminine gender? What are the hidden dialectics of patriarchal society in terms of the colour and race? How is the miserable condition that the females undergo? These are some of the questions, the research raises to solve.
The feminine race victimized and tortured in the world of patriarchal domination despite the capacity of the perfect human being opens the door of how the century long domination upon the females in terms of the gender has been still in practice, which tempts the critics of feminism.
The purpose of the research is to probe into the elements of how the feminine existence is always silenced in terms of the opportunities and rights. The dream of equality always remains as the soap bubble as regards in the treatment towards the female race in general. The feminine self has been thwarted with the absolute power that the males practice, to find which the objective of the research is.
Theoretical Perspective: Feminism
This chapter makes general survey of feminism, feminist criticism and female identity based on which the interpretation of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone will be studied. The focus of the present work is on feminist literary theory along with the history of feminism.
The term ‘feminism’ doesn’t have any agreed meaning that could be formulated as a set of belief, despite all protestations to the contrary. So feminism is a doctrine related on images and ideas advocating women’s rights for the equality of sexes, identity and freedom. Feminism tries to reconstruct women’s activities, works and aims from female- centered perspective. It is concerned with disregarded the culture as patriarchal culture, examine the experiences of women from all areas and classes, rejection of the marginalization of women, voice against constructed issues like a ‘secondary position’, ‘a second sex’ ‘submissive’ ‘docile’ other etc. It seeks to liberate women creating new society in such a way that patriarchy is eliminated. So feminist thinkers regard feminism as different form the mainstreams as innovative, inventive and rebellious.
When we trace the women’s subjection by men, we find that they have been subjugated from the beginning of human creation and civilization. Various myths and legends from both eastern and western parts of the world have portrayed them similarly as ‘other’, ‘witches’ and ‘mad women’. On the other hand, they have been, to some extent, worshipped as equal to nature for their capacity of fertility and sometimes seen with respected eyes. But as a whole, women’s image is shown negatively rather than showing the good aspects.
Feminism is concerned about the marginalization of women in almost every spheres of social life. It is the social movement that seeks equal right for women giving them equal status with men and freedom to decide their career and life pattern. This movement itself grows out of previous centuries of struggle by women to win equal rights. It questions such long-standing dominant male phallocentric ideology, patriarchal attitudes and male interpretation of females and feminine nature. In a sense, feminism is an outcome of aggressive feeling of self consciousness amongst women who begin to reject their own passivity and aimto develop women’s personalities. Sheila Ruth, about this movement, posits her view as follows: “A Conceptualization of the women’s movement that strikes me as more helpful and more constructive is simply that of women moving toward greater strength and freedom both in their awareness and in their socio-political position” (444).
Women’s movement aims to make and feel the women’s strength and freedom mentally and socially. Conventionally, .women are taken to be weak in term of education, culture, body whereas male are considered as strong in every aspect of life. Due to this deep rooted gender conception, men dominate women. Thus, the main target of the feminists has become to change or revolt against such misconception on gender construction, and to identify and remedy the sources of all kinds of oppression and subordination. So, feminists are ultimately in pursuit of a more radical change, the creation of the world where one gender does not set the standard of human values.
Many discussions attempt to fix origin of the women movement. Different scholars argue differently to pinpoint the origin of this movement. Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the abolition of slavery and the American Civil Rights Movements have been pinpointed for origin. These attempts have a certain logic, but they can be misleading. They tend to focus attention not on one movement but on many; an eighteenth, nineteenth, or twentieth century movements each with a discernible starting point, each built around distinct needs and goals, and each with separate and characteristic political attitudes, personalities and strategies.
There is no harmony between man and women in relation to the status in the society. Women are silenced in the patriarchal ideology. Thus, feminists try to break the silence of women. All the feminists are concerned with the destruction of patriarchal ideology, its insufficiency and one-sidedness. Maria Mies says, “feminists are those who dare to break the conspiracy of silence about the oppressive, unequal man-women relationship and who want to change it”(6). She talks in favour of women’s autonomy, and views that feminists are against oppressive male ideology and unequal treatment to women which imposed upon them to be silent. For her, autonomy is the feminist effort to maintain and recreate the innermost subjective human essence in women. Toril Moi defines feminists as; “The word feminist or feminism are political level indicating support for the aims of the new women’s movement” (217). Moi’s concept about feminism focuses it as a political movement which aims at breaking the patriarchal boundary and hierarchy between men and women. Feminism is the search for equality in social, political, educational and cultural aspects. Or, in short, feminism is the quest for autonomous existence required by women. Likewise, Sandra Gilbert views as; “The feminist criticism wants decods and demystify all the disguised questions and answers that have always shadowed of the connection between textually and sexuality, genre and gender, psychosexual identify and cultural authority” (334). Feminist criticism, for Gilbert, intends to make the clear relationship between text and male-female sexuality, sexual identification and cultural dictation upon female by male.
The women, specially of the third world, are not enjoying their humanity. Instead of developing women’s personality, the new age has added more responsibility upon them. The world is not completely modern because half of its population lacks humanity. Humanity and feminism can be enumerated as synonyms. Feminism came into existence for the sake of women rights and human equality. So, most of the feminists who are concerned with the world’s bias, demand equal rights for all human beings.
Feminism consider that the concept of feminity and masculinity are myths or ideologies. For these feminists, such beliefs are values that are not detached from social life. But females are subordinated by their traditional norms.
Cora Kaplan, Juliet Mitchel, Mary Jacobus and Rasalind Loward are some of the British feminists who combine Marxist theoretical interest in the production and ideology of literature with feminist concerns for woman’s writing.
Apart from these major approaches of feminism, it includes other many aspects, such as radical and liberal feminism, black and lesbian feminism, post-colonial, gender, third-world feminism etc. Let us talk in short about lithe holistic features of feminist theories including the prominent ones.
Prominent Feminist Theories (Criticism)
“Women Liberation movement” is the origin of ‘Feminist Criticism’ in the Eighteenth Century and there has been a continuous agitation for women’s rights- political, economical and cultural, the freedom and equalities of sexes in the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth century. However feminist criticism is actually a part of discourse of the new feminism emerged in Europe and America in the late 1960s to revive political and social issues of women. It emphasizes a different kind of reading to literature breaking the traditional monolithic way of examining literature from feminist point of view. The task of feminist criticism is to concentrate in women’s access to language in the lexical range from which words can be selected on the ideological and cultural determinants of expression. Toril Moi has indicated the advantage of recognition of feminist criticism and theory which are useful to learn social institutional and personal power relation between the sexes. She further says: “feminist criticism then is specific kind of political discourse, a critical and theoretical practice, committed to the struggle against patriarchy and sexism, not simply a concern for genders in literature”.(204)
Feminist criticism questions about phallocentric ideologies, attitudes and male interpretation in literature and criticism to attack the male notions of values in literature and criticism. To subvert the complacent centuries of patriarchal culture, it offers critiques of male authors and representations of men in literature, and also privileges of women writers.
In the Nineteenth and Twentieth century too, women had to come across various challenges as the writers in the society. Feminism became a dominant approach in literature only in the late Nineteenth century. It had two centuries struggle for the recognition of women’s cultural roles and achievements. The campaign was earlier started formally through the writing of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). Wollstonecraft opines that a woman or a girl is affected by the misinterpretation of the life style of society. There learning is mere repetition of the some conventional ideas but not creative one. In a novel, a boy is depicted as an active person where as girl is presented as possive (?) beauty. They read such novels and make an ideal picture of male and female in their mind. Not only this but she also claims for the political and social rights of women and goes beyond of strictly patriarchal and society. She advocates that mind does not know sex and blames that society views for women in the role of convenient domestic slaves and luring mistress by denying their economic independence and encouraging them to be docile and attentive to their look to the exclusion of all else.
In American Margaret had agitated for women’s movement in the middle of the Nineteenth century. In her well-known book Women in the Seventeenth Century she has depicted how women have been marginalized in our society. In the end of Nineteenth century J.S. Mill writes a pamphlet entitled “The Subjection of Will’in which like Wollstonecraft and Margaret fuller seeks more equality and greater freedom for women.
Twentieth Century major feminist writers like Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvior had made a great contribution in the field of feminist theories with their major famous works. Woolf, in her A Room of One’s Own (1928) has explored the situation of women writers explaining how women are imprisoned with in the domestic premises and are stopped from trying the pen. Her central argument is that women do not have money and a room of her own where they do not have separate space for writing. The social and economic obstacles extended before them always obstructed the women’s creativity. She attacks that a patriarchal society has prevented women from realizing their creative possibilities. She asserts that libraries can be locked but freedom of women mind can not be locked. In her another essay “The idea of the Angel in the House” called for women to be sympathetic, genuine and unselfish. She says that the literary genres were made by men for their own utilization not for women. Only the novel gives women workable space ands even then the form has to be reworked for its own new purpose expressing the female body and experiences.
Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex (1994) established The principles of modern feminism. She focuses upon the pitiable condition of women in patriarchal society stating that where a women tries to define herself. The main theme of the book is that what is masculine and feminine in identity and behavior are largely cultural constructs that were generated by the pervasive patriarchal biases of our civilization.
The whole culture sees women merely the negative object or “other” to men as dominating ‘subject’ who is assumed to represent the humanity in general. She assures that neither woman’s biological nor psychological make up is responsible for the inferior condition of women. It is the society that has made women subordinate to men. Men have always been creative and inventive while women being the victim of species, has been destined for the repetitions of life. Woman is not allowed to act in accordance of her own nature but in accordance with man’s expectation of her.
Elaine Showalter in her essay “A Literature of Their Own “she wants clearly articulated feminist literary theory. She favors such literary criticisms that give space to the female experience but she opposes male based literary criticism which has been called universal. This so called universalism excludes female therefore a theory is needed to give space to the female experiences and she has named this theory ‘Feminist Criticism’. Showalter divides feminist criticism into two distinct mode. The first mode is women as a reader which considers the image and stereotypes of women literature. It consumes male produce art but omits the misconception about women in criticism and breaks the male constructed literary history. ‘Feminist Critique’ is the name given by her to this type of analysis. The second mode of feminist criticism is the study of women as writers. It considers women as a producer of textual meaning with the history, themes, genres and structure of literature by women. Women as writer give space to express her own experience. It includes the psychodynamic of female creativity and the problem of female language. She labels it ‘Gynocritics’. It is related to feminist research in history, anthropology, psychology and sociology. It is Gynocriticis that seems to interest her most. Gynocriticis eliminate the inevitability of male modes and theories and seeks a female model. They construct a female framework for the analysis of women’s literature.
She further categorizes the past and present of literary history of women by dividing the three stages of women writers. They are ‘feminine’, ‘feminist’ and ‘female’. The period between 1840 to 1880 is feminine period. This stage marks female voice but is immensely influenced by male literary tradition. Their works keeping their effort to equal those intellectual achievements of male culture. There was a trend of writing in male pseudonyms because there was no place for female in the literary tradition. They could not revolt against male domination. They had a kind of feeling inferiority. George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell and Bronte Sisters belong to this phase.
The second phase clearly demonstrated the determined efforts for political and social equality. This phase was represented by Woolf in which women did not remain silent. They found their domination in different sides of life and revolted against the male domination. It is the very phase from which they also got their voting rights. This phase dated from 1880 to 1920 including the writers like Elizabeth Gaskell, France Trollope and Olives Schviener.
The third stage is ‘female’ dated from 1920 to present which seeks the independent identity and existence of women. In this phase the dependency on opposition is being replaced by a rediscovery of women’s text and aesthetics. They give up both initiation and protest because females realize that these two terms are the forms of dependency. Dorothy Richardson, Katherine Mansfield and Rebecca West were the most important early female novelist in this stage.
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar started an extensive study of women writers and set up a feminist literary theory. Their prominent work The Mad Women in The Attic (1979) is one of the influential books on historical study of feminism. In this book they concentrate on the figure of the suppressed females connotes to the realization of female identity.
They oppose Harold Bloom’s model and named it patriarchal. They claim that his theory is male oriented and more than Bloomean anxiety women’s anxiety are the problems appeared in the process of socialization which is dominated by males. They talk about the social anxieties, physical and mental illness crossing the boundary of Bloomean theory of anxiety of influence.
When we observe the development of whole feminist literary criticism we can find the existence of feminism from the very earlier literary history. At first females were presented as stereotypical figures. Continuously women writers became conscious and insisted for a literature of their own. Finally there is a radical thinking of the conceptual ground of literary study and try to revise the accepted theoretical assumptions based on male literary tradition.
The term identity has several facets of meaning. It is the conscious woman’s ‘will’ that conceives herself to be and wills to act that gives her an individual identity. In this sense, woman is nothing else but what she makes of herself and her identify is first of all what she conceives of herself. It is whatever meaning the individual assigns to herself.
Secondly, identity is the meaning of the individual on a part of groups or communities of various kinds. In fact, even when the single individual defines herself or is some how related to. In choosing to create or conceptualize an image and identity, the individual creates an universal image of women in general. The individual does so in terms of common values that defines individuals in her society. The individual conforms to the collective behaviours and common codes in gaining this social recognition. It is her social identity. From the social point of view, the self is expressed as the group level as well as at the personal. Personal identity is based on idiosyncratic life experiences and individual traits that make each individual distinct from all others, whereas social identity refers to the identity of the individual as a social member.
Identity involves reference to the essential self, including values of behaviour, attitude, experience and belief of the individual as a social member rather than a simple reference to mere ‘appearance’. That includes not only the individual’s evaluative and effective components such as self-evaluation and self-esteem but also the society’s recognition of her. The loss of one or more attributes of recognition for instance, one’s job, title or prestige, definitely threatens the identity of the individual.
In Collins’ novel The Moonstone; Collins projects his major character Rachel as the representative of women who is living a life under the oppression of male dominated society. Its critics argue that the notion of identity is itself fundamental to the analysis of oppression but the fact remains here to be discussed is that women’s identity has been totally ignored. So through presentation of Rachel, the major characters of the story, it suggests that the society is patriarchal; the feelings, sentiments and the desires of the women were suppressed and limited within the four boundaries of a wall. Their identity has been challenged by the patriarchal society and thus, women are regarded as the second class citizen. In Collins’ novel, Rachel is time and again victimized by the patriarchal society. Her moonstone is also stolen from her cabinet. It suggests that her power, autonomy, freedom and privacy is stolen. Concerning the abovementioned facts and details, the study will evoke the identity crisis of Rachel.
Self perception, Self Realization: Awakening
Self perception is associated with our individuality, what type of person we are, especially the way we normally look or feel. It is linked with the social and cultural phenomena. Every female possesses their own ‘self’ and they try to perceive their selves in the circumstances and environments they live in. Society determines the self of a female or male with in social structure. Self is different from person to person and culture to culture due to the social construction.
Our self-perception is not fixed which changes time and again which brings self realization and awakening. It shows the actuality of potentiality consist in the self. Self realization and self-perception are directly or indirectly linked to each other. In The Moonestone, Rachel presents the unchanging self-perception of her own. She remains totally ignored to her self and only cares for the society and family. The patriarchal norms, values and systems created to control women have been still in practice in Collins’ novel The Moonstone which engrave the self, subjectivity and awakening of women.
Patriarchy and Stereotype of Women
Patriarchy, the rule of father in literal, would refer not simply a society where men hold power, but rather to a society ruled by a certain kind of men wielding a certain kind of power. It is a society that reflects the underlying values of the traditional male idea. Patriarchy is a culture whose driving ethos in an embodiment of masculine ideas and practices. It has determined in very large part the nature and quality of our society, its values and priorities, the place and image of women with in it, and the relation between the sexes. Patriarchy expects women to serve the men physically, taking care of their homes, property, clothing or persons; economically, doing countless jobs for which women are ill paid or not paid at all; sexually, as wives, mistress or prostitutes; and reproductively, assuring men of paternity through female chastity. In a society, where men have controlled the conceptual arena and have determined social values, it is not surprising that women should have lost the power of naming, of explaining and defining for themselves the realities of their own experience. Sheila Ruth says:
In a patriarchal culture, men define the female as they define nearly everything else. The issue is not only that men perceive women from masculine perspectives, but that given the nature of socialization, all members of society, including women, perceive the female from the prevailing masculine perspectives. (84)
In patriarchy, male domination is so much rooted that it evaluates women not regarding the human being but like everything else. Women are culturally compelled to perceive women from male perspective. The naming of women has been effected by men primarily through control of the social institution that determine behaviour and attitude. In patriarchy, everything is measured in the touchstone of male ideology.
Patriarchy sets the stereotypes for women. Stereotype is a fixed idea or image that many people have of a particular type of person or thing, but which is often not true in reality. Anne Cranny- Francis, Wendy Warning, Pam Stavropoulos and Joan Kirkby Jointly write about stereotype as follows:
A stereotype is a political practice that divides the world into like and unlike, self and other. It is a radically reductive way of representing whole communities of people by identifying them with a few key characteristics. Different stereotypes applied to particular social group or community may attribute to them conflicting characteristics. This apparent contradiction reveal the fact that stereotypes are (a) generated by those outside the group and (b) are part of a political strategy for managing that group or community. (141-142)
Stereotypes exclude or reject everything which falls out of its definition, everything which is different. It sets up symbolic boundaries and then provides the mechanisms of cultural production for people to police those boundaries. People use stereotypes to determine who should naturally belong to one group or another. One person cannot produce and circulate a stereotype all alone; stereotypes function within groups of people as knowledge. Importantly, they are usually produced by people who are positioned to circulate their ideas widely, so that even the group stereotyped may then come to take on this as a kind of fact.
Sheila Ruth in her text Issues in Feminism posits her view on female stereotype and its effect as:
They all say that women as human beings are substandard: less intelligent; less moral; less competent; less able physically, psychologically, and spiritually; small of body, mind and character; often bad or destructive. These and other stereotypical images of women are destructive to as. In their negative, deprecatory and ugly aspect, they flourish in the minds of women, who are forced to live them. (96)
Females are stereotyped as unintelligent, incompetent, physically weak to male. This stereotypical image forces women to become substandard, weak and hapless creatures. Female stereotype is the patriarchal definition that is to be broken apart. In the novel, the major female character has been presented as the weak and unintelligent character. Rachel is been treated as a unintelligent and weak character.
Considering the aforementioned feminist critics and criticism, the study basically analyzes Collins’ The Moonstone from the feminist perspective so as to discuss her work as an anthology on women’s studies.
Female as a Site of Exploitation in The Moonstone
Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone is one of the masterpieces of mystery. As T.S. Eliot wrote: “The Moonstone is the first and greatest of English detective novels.” The novel, based on a yellow diamond called The Moonstone, questions the established order of the class system, patriarchy, and colonialism. The Moonstone is plundered by John Herncastle at the time of the storming of Seringapatam in 1799. After Herncastle’s death, the moonstone is presented to Herncastle’s niece, Rachel Verinder as a birthday present. During the evening of her birthday party, the moonstone is stolen from Rachel’s cabinet. As a result of this incident, confusion ensues and the order in the Verinder family is destroyed. Just as the moonstone was plundered from the Indians by the British, so Franklin and Ablewhite steal it from Rachel. It is noteworthy that Rachel was “small and slim” and has black hair which matches her eyes. These physical features usually belong to people in colonized countries such as India and this symbolizes the fact that Rachel is categorized as one of the exploited.
Here, let us examine the scene where the moonstone is stolen. While under the influence of opium, Franklin goes to Rachel’s room and takes the moonstone out of the cabinet drawer. Witnessed by Rachel, she later explains:
There are three glasses in my sitting-room. As you [Franklin] stood there, I [Rachel] saw all that you did, reflected in one of them.’ ‘What did you see?’‘You put your candle on the top of the cabinet. You opened, and shut, one drawer after another, until you came to the drawer in which I had put my Diamond. You looked at the open drawer for a moment. And then you put your hand in, and took the Diamond out’ (4)
It is possible to interpret Franklin’s reflection as Franklin’s second self, so Rachel discovers another side of Franklin she’d never known before.
On the top of all this, Rachel’s witnessing of the theft is seen by Ablewhite. As soon as Franklin takes the moonstone, he hands it to Ablewhite and asks him to deposit it with a bank for security. The following morning, Franklin remembers nothing and Ablewhite plans to possess the moonstone as well as Rachel. Later Ablewhite is killed by three Indians on his way to Amsterdam. Next, let us turn to how Sergeant Cuff investigates the case. Cuff finds “the small smear” on Rachel’s room’s door on which the paint was wet until three o’clock in the morning. He decides the criminal’s clothes would have been smeared and tries to check the clothes of everyone who lives in the Verinder house. However, Rachel refuses to have her clothes checked and Cuff suspects her. In reality, it is the maid Rosanna who hides Franklin’s smeared gown and makes him a new one. Rosanna commits suicide after she thinks she has been rejected by Franklin and now it seems the truuth will be lost forever
Again, let us examine Rosanna’s letter to Franklin “Sir － I have something to own to you. A confession which means much misery may sometimes be made in very few words. This confession can be made in three words. I love you” (256). It also has the same effect as the stain of Franklin’s nightgown. Franklin has never thought of himself as a thief nor the object of Rosanna’s desire.
According to Jennings, “I was born, and partly brought up, in one of our colonies. My father was an Englishman; but my mother －…”
According to Jennings, “I was born, and partly brought up, in one of our colonies. My father was an Englishman; but my mother －…” (304). Jennings has multiple identity that is an “English gentleman” and “colonial Other. She has no identity of her own. It reveals that her identity is foreshadowed by her husbands’ identity. Thus, Jennings belongs to England and the colonized nation, the dominant and the dominated. It also reveals how her identity is forgotten and only the identity of England and colonized nation helps her to recognize herself.
Mr. Bruff thinks so, too, generally speaking. But in Rachel, he considers it a virtue:
This absolute self dependence is a great virtue in a man. In a woman it has the serious drawback of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. I strongly suspect myself of thinking as the rest of the world think in this matter—except in the case of Rachel Verinder. The self-dependence in her character, was one of its virtues in my estimation. (222)
Most women, according to Mr. Bruff, should allow themselves to be guided by outside advice, while it’s good for men, in general, to think for themselves. He’s willing to make an exception for Rachel, though, because he knows that she’s intelligent and sensible enough to make good decisions, even without asking advice.
There’s also a strong element of sexism that runs through this novel. There are many assumptions made about women throughout this novel, most especially by Gabriel Betteredge. Here’s just one example of the things he says and thinks:
But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women – if they can….The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all relations of life. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them.(118)
While Betteredge is the most outspoken in his views of women, all of the other characters seem to accept the social status of women in this novel as natural. The readers does not like to tolerate that sort of blatant dismissal of women. The book provides a fascinating look at the relations between genders in the then society.
Rosanna Spearman is regarded as an innocent girl who never quarrels with anyone. We can see how Spearman’s image is constructed by the patriarchal society, “She never quarrelled, she never took offence; she only kept a certain distance, obstinately and civilly, between the rest of them and herself” (19). We find her representing mild character. She is presented in such a way that fits in the boundary created by patriarchy.
In addition to this, girls are praised for their beauty. The girls are ought to follow whatever the society assigns to them. The zealous nature of women is character by the following extract:
My lady, listening with rather careworn expression on her face, seemed to wish that the doctor had been in earnest, and that he could have found Miss Rachel zealous enough in the cause of science to sacrifice her birthday gift. (53-54)
Rachel is obviously zealous for she has lost her birthday gift. The courtesy of Rosana Spearman suggests that she is cajoled. The zealousness also suggests the women’s behaviour.
The women are obliged to obey the patriarchal ideologies. They are considered as a site that is to be exploited by men. The powerlessness of women suggests that they are entitled to obey the patriarchal authority. The women in the novel are guided not by their instincts but by the commands of the representatives of patriarchy. Wilkie writes:
“Now, then, you women, go down-stairs again, every one of you; I won’t have you here. Look!” says Mr. Superintendent, suddenly pointing to a little smear of the decorative painting on Miss Rachel’s door, at the outer edge, just under the lock. “Look what mischief the petticoats of some of you have done already. Clear out! clear out!” Rosanna Spearman, who was nearest to him, and nearest to the little smear on the door, set the example of obedience, and slipped off instantly to her work. The rest followed her out. (69)
Here, we can observe how Superintendent commands women. He especially blames Rachel. He charges them of stealing the moonstone. Not only that, he even observes the room and makes comment on it. He finds women’s mischief for their petticots have been scattered. His commanding voice suggests the idea of exploitation of females. None of the female characters try to question Mr. Superintendent’s order which also shows their incapability to threat the patriarchy. By showing the obedient girls, Wilkie supports the patriarchal authority prevaling to operate the minds of women.
Furthermore, women are compared with a view to see. The sight also suggests just like a ritual performance. We can also observe the arising tension in women as, “The women were a sight to see, while the police-officers were rummaging among their things. The cook looked as if she could grill Mr. Superintendent alive on a furnace, and the other women looked as if they could eat him when he was done” (73). This extract suggests that police-officers are rummaning. It tells us that they are doing something horrible against women. The privacy of women is opened. For that, women are not happy. Inwardly, they are jealous and even in a condition to eat Superintendent alive. It shows the invocation of rage upon Supterintendent.
The women are sometimes glorified for their beauty and sometimes when it is infavourable for men, are considered ugly. We can observe how women are criticized by Superintendent as, “The ugly women have a bad time of it in this world” (93). This way, we see Superintendent doing things according to his own wish. The women are psychologically exploited as well as treated immorally.
In the same way, suspicion on women is not unnatural. Women are inferiorized in society whereas men are considered superior. The men are also ought to teach women. Wilkie reveals, “I suspected what was the matter readily enough. But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women—if they can” (118). It suggests that since women are inferior to men, they are ought to be improved by men. The ability of the men to improve women suggests that women are not capable of driving themselves in the right path. The teaching is also important to note here since patriarchy creates a maze in the name of teaching and cheats women. It is a politics of men to hegemonize women.
Furthermore, a woman is compared with the cigrattee. The analogous meanig of cigarattee explores the short life of women and their importance not notable. The utilitarian concpt of males desire for woman and once they get women, they try to overthrow and search another. In this sense, a woman is nothing more than a plaything for men. A woman is a site of exploitation for men. Wilkie reveals the selifh nature of men as through Mr. Franklin:
Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? Follow me carefully, and I will prove it in two words. You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints you. What do you do upon that? You throw it away and try another. Now observe the application! You choose a woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart. Fool! take a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away, and try another!” (142)
Here, we can see how Franklin takes woman as a site of exploitation. He describes woman in such a way that fits with the utilitarianism. This very concept results in the extreme use of women for personal benefit of men. Men use women in order to exploit, cheat and dominate. Franklin teaches his friend to cheat women. The comparison of woman with the bottom of cigar-case suggests the low authorial position of woman. It also inferiorizes the women’s identity. He degrades the values of woman in such a way that proves women being explited by males. The women are treated in such a way so that it will be easy for men to exploit them. The women, for Franklin are as easy to buy as one can buy a cigarattee.
Now, once again Mr. Franklin tries to prove his assertion before Rachel in case of polygamy. He tries to dominate the voice of women as he thinks that having more than one wife is normal but at the same time he does not see the possibility of a woman having many husbands. He asserts: “Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect and admire their husbands? And yet they and their husbands get on very well” (193). It shows that men are superior to women and can make several wifes. It is a patriarchal ideology that allows men to marry more than one women. He deduces the conclusion in haste and says that having more than one wife is not a problem since many people have done it. This exclams the researcher that women are cajoled in order to make it easy for patriarchy to consume them. The ideological debate may arise when the question of polyandry comes but we see women silenced because they are not allowed to break the such ideologies.
Here Franklin relates the emotional touch of women with the ‘horse’. This very idea is analogous with the figure of a man and woman having physical pleasure.The riding suggests the intercourse going on whichis different with every women. The inhuam practice of Betteredge is also explored as, “Different women have different ways of riding the high horse. The late Mrs. Betteredge took her exercise on that favourite female animal whenever I happened to deny her anything that she had set her heart on” (243). We see tha Betteredge exploiting her own wife. He forces her to have physical relationship with animals. It is because he cannot fulfill her sexual thrust. Thus, we can deduce the conclusion that since Betteredge cannot satisfy her, he decided to give job for an animal in providing physical pleasure to his wife. This shows the extreme form of exploitation of women. The women are not considered human beings when we see a woman having physical relationship with an animal according to her husband’s choice.
Once again, Mr. Franklin observes women and reveals that thye have no principles. The principles here suggest the morals. By showing the indifference of women, Franklin suggests that since women have no principles they are to be taught by men. He asserts, “Inevitably. But women, as you may have observed, have no principles. My family don’t feel my pangs of conscience (278). It reveals tha women are needed to be guided by men. The indifference of women is rhetorically suggests the ignorance of women. The women are ignorant of their domination and exploitation. He further asserts: “The one thing he said which struck me as worth listening to, was this—that Miss Verinder had declined to be questioned by him, and had spoken to him with a perfectly incomprehensible rudeness and contempt” (135). Rachel admits her follishness before Drusilla. It also suggests that since they are considered imcompetent, irrational, emotional and hypocrite, their body is commodified and considered as a site of exploitation. We see the frank admission of women’s foolishness as: “I am glad to see you,” she said. “Drusilla, I have been in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to you, on former occasions. I beg your pardon. I hope you will forgive me” (168). By portraying the foolishness of women, Wilkie shows the ignorance of women. The ignorance of women leads them to the vicious circle of exploitation. We can see the incompetent women allowing themselves to be submissive to patriarchy.
The women in the novel are hegemonized by the patriarchal power. They consider themselves inferior. They think of crime for staring at someone. This very idea is nothing than the privilege of patriarchy laden upon them. Wilkie writes, “It is a piece of rudeness to stare at anybody, and it is an act of indelicacy to stare at a gentleman. I committed both those improprieties” (205). It suggests that women are hegemonized in such a way that they consider small matters with big importance. Here too, Rachel thinks that she committed crime of staring at somebody. It is a patriarchal ideology that is in favour of males not the females. The restriction laden upon women for staring at somebody stands as a testimony for the exploitative nature. It is not the rule formed in order to liberate women but to make them congested and narrow-minded.
We can observe the dissatisfaction on men aroused from the women’s work. Mr. Franklin reveals that women spoil and make mess in the house as, “Nine times out of ten they take to torturing something, or to spoiling something—and they firmly believe they are improving their minds, when the plain truth is, they are only making a mess in the house” (41). It shows that man cannot get satisfaction from women’s work. He wants to exploit women physically as well as psychologically. That is why we can see the claim of Franklin as he says that ‘they are improving their minds’. It stands for the possible improvement in women since they are habituated to commit crimes and mistakes.
Suspicion is another dreadful thing that ruins everything. Franklin confesses that he is not williing to make suspicion against a poor girl. Here, the poor girl stands not only the economically poor but in the sense that a girl is denied of her rights, liberty and happiness Wilkie asserts:
But it was neither my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a poor girl, whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as I had known her. The matron at the Reformatory had reported her to my lady as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly trustworthy girl. It was the Superintendent’s business to discover reason for suspecting her first—and then, and not till then, it would be my duty to tell him how she came into my lady’s service. (72)
We can observe how the discussion centers on women in the novel. From the beginning to its end, we can make thorough observation and reveal the exploitative nature of patriarchy. The women are either glorified or victimized. The poor girl in the above-mentioned excerpt stands for her miserable condition. It is not because she is poor but because she is exploited by patriarchal representatives. The discussion centers on girl’s loyalty. Franklin on the one hand sees infidelity for he believes in what Superintendent tells him and on the other he believes that the girl is loyal to him. Anyway, the portrayal of a girl in such a way is to exploit her. The exploitative nature of patriarchy makes him portay her in such a way.
Sergeant Cuff on the other hand, suspects on Rosanna of stealing the moonstone. He claims that when he saw her for the first time, he suspected her. We can observe:
Sergeant Cuff, “relates to Rosanna Spearman. I recognised the young woman, as your ladyship may remember, when she brought the washing-book into this room. Up to that time I was inclined to doubt whether Miss Verinder had trusted her secret to any one. When I saw Rosanna, I altered my mind. I suspected her at once of being privy to the suppression of the Diamond. (137)
It suggests that Surgent Cuff is suspicious to Rosanna. By making Rosanna suspicious character, Wilkie reveals the hidden layers of women’s strangeness. It is because Rosanna is condemnded for suppressing the diamond to make her guilty. The guiltyness of her suggests that women are just like thief. By assigning the negative qualities for women, we can see the politics of exploitation in Sergeant Cuff’s voice.
In the case of Sir John, I knew Lady Verinder to be, not only worthy of the unreserved trust which her husband had placed in her (all good wives are worthy of that)—but to be also capable of properly administering a trust (which, in my experience of the fair sex, not one in a thousand of them is competent to do). (218)
It is also noticeable that women are defined in such a way which claims their mastery in household works. By praising their work at house, we can see the inner exploitative ideology. Wilkie writes: “. . . and she knows better than to make a smell of burning, and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of)— lights a fire, I say, to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out” (99). It reveals the women’s mastery over household works. The smell of burning suggests the task of cooking, lights a fire suggests making oven ready and to dry the iron suggests cleaning and properly managing the clothes. By assigning these tasks to women, we can see the exploitative relationship between the ideology of work and women’s craftmanship.
We can again observe how women are defined. Sometimes we can observe they are calld mad and sometimes the plain woman. This creates a geopardic situation to understand women. Wilkie writes:
There was certainly no beauty about her to make the others envious; she was the plainest woman in the house, with the additional misfortune of having one shoulder bigger than the other. What the servants chiefly resented, I think, was her silent tongue and her solitary ways. (19)
The women are sometimes considered to be a reflection of beauty and sometiems they are not. The plain characteristic of women as portrayed by Wilkie is favourable for males to dominate them. The silent tongue also suggests that women cannot speak aloud or she is entirely restricted to the domain of speaking. The solitary ways suggest her loneliess and feeling of inferiority. This way, we find the politics of representing women simple and solitary. The women are exploited in one or another way either by silencing them or by making them vulgar, rude and mad.The following extract represents Rosanna as a mad:
“What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?” I asked. “Her own madness,” says Penelope; “I can call it nothing else. She was bent on speaking to Mr. Franklin, this morning, come what might of it. I did my best to stop her; you saw that. If I could only have got her away before she heard those dreadful words——” (118)
We can see how women are treated in the society. The inconsistency in defining women by the patriarchal society gives the true evidence of exploitation. Women are considered to be a safe ground for exploitation. The patriarchal norms and values are favourable for men not for the women. That is why, women are sometimes silenced or sometimes called mad. In order to show the superiority of male, Penelope makes an attempt to stop her but he cannot.
Now, Rosanna frankly admits that men are troubling her. One of the example as she calls is police-officer from London. She sees the trouble and misery that police-officer is bring into her house. She asserts: “I am afraid my nerves are a little shaken,” she said. “There is something in that police-officer from London which I recoil from—I don’t know why. I have a presentiment that he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. Very foolish, and very unlike ME—but so it is” (86). Rachel reveals that policeofficer is bringing misery to her house. She calls him foolish too. This shows the slight disguist of women for males ring trouble and misery. Her acceptance of misery and trouble is further suggests but ‘but so it is’. It shows that women canot wipe away the misery. The inability to challenge the males and misery proves women as the most exploited one.
The beauty of Rachel is also admirable. The motif of admiration is to give the lession to other women that they should carry chastity. The beautiful description of Rachel is in the latent level motif of exploitation. We can observe how her gesture and posture are described:
Miss Rachel came downstairs—very nicely dressed in some soft yellow stuff, that set off her dark complexion, and clipped her tight (in the form of a jacket) round the waist. She had a smart little straw hat on her head, with a white veil twisted round it. She had primrose-coloured gloves that fitted her hands like a second skin. Her beautiful black hair looked as smooth as satin under her hat. Her little ears were like rosy shells—they had a pearl dangling from each of them. (123)
This description suggests that Rachel is a perfect on her physical beauty. She is valorized in such a way that patriarchy wants her to be. In order to celebrate the beauty of women, patriarchal society creates a norm that women should manage her beauty. Her head, hair and her complexion is valorized by Wilkie.
When the women are exploited to the extent of prick, men regret for not having pity on them. The miserable life of women is supposed to be pitied by men. As Wilkie quotes, “He ought to have taken pity on her” (151). It shows he helplessness condition of women on the one hand and the extreme exploitation on the other.
Rachel at this time explores that men are entirely guided by emotionality. They think that women are to be celeberate either by cajoling or by coercion. Wilkie asserts:
There was something so hideous in the boy’s enjoyment of the horror of the scene, that I took him by the two shoulders and put him out of the room. At the moment when I crossed the threshold of the door, I heard Sergeant Cuff’s voice, asking where I was. He met me, as I returned into the room, and forced me to go back with him to the bedside. (370)
The enforcement of Sergeant obliges Rachel to go to the bed with another man. She calls such type of enjoyment hiedious. She even the boy out of the room but Cuff obliges her to return to her bed with him. We can perceive that women are, most of the time in risk. They are obliged to act according to the will and demand of patriarchy. This also proves that patriarchy considers women as a site of physical exploitation.
In house too, women’s labour is exploited. They are assigned so many tasks that takes entire day and even some night hours to complete. Wilkie asserts the exploitation of women at home as:
It often falls heavy enough, no doubt, on people who are really obliged to get their living, to be forced to work for the clothes that cover them, the roof that shelters them, and the food that keeps them going. But compare the hardest day’s work you ever did with the idleness that splits flowers and pokes its way into spiders’ stomachs, and thank your stars that your head has got something it MUST think of, and your hands something that they MUST do. (42)
Here, Rachel reveals that it is a compulsion of women to do the assigned tasks. They have to indulge entirely upon the household chores and no time is given to them for enjoyment. Rachel compares the hardest day’s work and finds it really exploitive. The women are obliged to accomplish the task at any cost. That is why, they must do the things, they must accomplish the tasks.
The motif of enforcement is also visible when we extract a small quote which speaks against the will of women. Here we can observe how women are to be persuaded or forced to reveal the truth as: “She must be persuaded to tell us, or she must be forced to tell us, on what grounds she bases her belief that you took the Moonstone” (275). The trace of exploitation reveals at this time. We find Betterdge very much criticical of women. He carries the philosophy of cajoling or coercing women. The enforcement to reveal the fact becomes clear from his words. He claims “she must be forced to tell us” (275). Women, at this hour are also exploited. Each and every expression of Betteredge carries the seductive genes.
Towards the end of the novel, we can notice Rachel violent on her expression and feeble inside her mind. The humiliation suggests exploiting tendency of men whereas her will of getting out of the room suggests her longing for freedom. Wilkie asserts,
“Why did you come here to humiliate me?” She went on a few steps, and paused once more. “For God’s sake, say something!” she exclaimed, passionately. “If you have any mercy left, don’t let me degrade myself in this way! Say something—and drive me out of the room!” (282)
It shows that though women pretend to be strong they are inside dying for freedom. They cannot express their inner feeelings for they are afraid of patriarchal ideology. Here, she also calms herself and expects mercy from Betteredge. Betteredge’s presence is exclaimed as degrading her which symbolically stands for his exploiting motif and Rachel’s obligation.
At the very preak of this novel, we find Rachel frustrated with the daily life. She regrets for working days and nights, for serving Betteredge in particular and the world patriarchal world in general. We can notice her misery and will of ending her life as: “The progress of the disease has gradually forced me from the use of opium to the abuse of it. I am feeling the penalty at last. My nervous system is shattered; my nights are nights of horror. The end is not far off now. Let it come—I have not lived and worked in vain” (311). It proves the helplesness of Rachel. This is the same helplessness bestowed upon her from time to time. But, towards the end she becomes much more nervious. She is about to lose her mind which is suggested by “my nerovous system is shattered’. She even call patriarchy a disese which forced her to use opium. The opium is no other than the daily works, actually her daily routine to serve the patriarchal society.
In this way, the present study explores the issue of females being subordinated to males. The study reveals how women are commodified, exploited, degraded and consumed as a playing, merely for precreation for males. The mind and body of women is considered to be the best place for men to exploit. The women are physically as well as mentally bruised by the traditional system. The infavourable laws, norms and values of society degrades their status whereas men are considred to be guiding women, having power and exercising it not for the progress and equality but for the exploitation and degradation.
The moonstone is a yellow diamond that is originally set in an Indian statue. Because the stone is of great religious significance to the Hindus, three priests are assigned to guard it – they will do anything to find the stone and return it to India. On Colonel Herncastle’s death he gives the stone to his niece, Rachel Verinder, on her 18th birthday. Rachel’s cousin, learns about the curse of the stone and worries that this is not a gift. Nevertheless, the stone is given to Rachel and she wears it prominently at her birthday party. That night, as she sleeps, the diamond is stolen. The family then calls in the highly renowned detective, Sergeant Cuff. The characters are asked, a year after the theft, to record everything they remember about what happened. While doing so, Collins shows women subordinate to men. The Sergeant Cuff plays the vital role in defining women as a body to be celebrated. We find Betteredge supporting the argument of Sergeant Cuff. Both of them talk about women and regard them as a mere plaything. Betteredge also comments that women is just like a cigarette that men once tries then throws it away and again tries another. This kind of mentality gives them the power to dominate and exploit women. We find Rachel being forced to sleep with another boy. Despite her will, she is obliged to give company to him.
We also find women are charged with thief. Rosanna is an innocent girl but Sergeant Cuff at first sight suspects her. Here, Sergeant Cuff’s judgement is not sound since he considers women in negative parameters. He even comes with the argument that either by cajoling or by force, he is going to reveal the truth from Rosanna. This shows the outbreak of his rage upon women. The coercion suggests the obligations women. The rights of women are violated with the use of force or coercion. Seeing women as a fertile ground to play with, Sergeant Cuff goes far beyond his limitations. The mastery and harshness in Cuff’s voice also suggests his rudeness. He treats no one with glamorous voice. The brutal acts of scolding women and considering them useless gives the abundant evidence for the researcher to prove female body as a breeding ground of physical and psychological exploitation and as a whole site of exploitation.
In the same way, the ability of the men to improve women suggests that women are not capable of driving themselves in the right path. The teaching is also important to note since patriarchy creates a maze in the name of teaching and cheats women. It is a politics of men to hegemonize women. And, through which men form their sword merely to exploit women. These teachings are traditional beating, whooping, flogging and many other tortures given to women. By proving women ignorant, we find the politics of representation on the one hand and policies of exploitation on the other.
It is a patriarchal ideology that allows men to marry more than one woman. It claims that more than one wife is not a problem since many people have done so. This exclams the researcher that women are cajoled in order to make it easy for patriarchy to consume them. The ideological debate may arise when the question of polyandry comes but we see women silenced because they are not allowed to break the such ideologies. These ideas and ideologies work for the exploitation of as many women as they can by cajoling of by coercion. We find the double geopardy in men driving them crazy on the beauty of women and considering women as a vile on the other.
Towards the end of the novel we find Here, Rachel revealing her misery. She explores that women have to indulge entirely upon the household chores and have no time for enjoyment. Rachel compares the hardest day’s work and finds it really exploitive. The women are obliged to accomplish the task at any cost. That is why, they must do the things, they must accomplish the tasks. It also suggests that not only women are sexualy harassed by males but the labour of women is also unpaid. The voluntary service of women in the house is considered unproductive. We can also trace the example of Sergeant Cuff who goes on in investigation and researching whereas women are being suspected for the crime.
Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. London: Everyman, 1995.
Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone. London: Penguin Books, 1998.
Duncan, Ian. “’The Moonstone,’ the Victorian Novel, and Imperialist Panic.” Modern Language Quarterly 55.3 (1994): 297-320.
Gilbert M. Sandra and Susan Gubar. “Infection in the Sentence”, Critical Theory Since Plato. Ed. Hazard Adams. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1992. 1160-1775.
Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies.” Cultural Studies. Ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler. New York: Routledge, 1992. 277-294.
Mies, Maria. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in International Division of Labor. London: Zed Books, 1986.
Mill, J.S. “What is Poetry”, Critical Theory Since Plato. Ed. Hazard Adams. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1992. 550-556.
Moi, Toril. Sexual/ Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory. New York: Methuem, 1985.
Roy, Ashish. “The Fabulous Imperialist Semiotic of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone.” New Literary History 24.3 (1993): 657-681.
Ruth, Sheila. Issues in Feminism: A First Course in Women’s Studies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
Sharpe, Jenny. Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Pres, 1993.
Showalter, Elaine, “The Feminist Critical Revolution.” Introduction. The New Feminist Criticism. The University of California: Pantheon. 1985. 3-17.
Taylor, Jenny Bourne. In the Secret Theatre of Home: Wilkie Collins, Sensation Narrative, and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Ed. Carol H. Poston. New York: Norton Press, 1975. 395-99.
Woolf, Virginia. “A Room of One’s Own” Ed. Hazard Adams. Critical Theory Since Plato. New York: Harcourt Press, 1992. 818-25.