Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

"In the Eyes of the World": Reputation & Identity in The Moonstone

Presenter Information

Shannon MauldinFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Lynne McNeill

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

In The Moonstone, Franklin Blake's desperation to establish the truth of the theft of the Moonstone is indicative of the weight of public opinion and reputation in Victorian society. This emphasis on external opinion, instead of personal integrity, destroys any authentic sense of self for the characters, a condition that is exemplified by both Franklin and Rachel's unwillingness to admit to any wrongdoing, whether in public or in private. When Franklin discovers that Rachel saw him steal the Moonstone, he says "If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken," castigating her for her silence, yet, when he begins to compile first person experiences of the episode of the Moonstone, Rachel's testimony is conspicuously absent (Collins 346). I argue that this silencing of Rachel reveals Franklin's true goal in assembling this collection of stories - to clear his name of any possible blemish, not to create the most accurate rendition of events possible. If Franklin had truly thought "the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record," he would have asked for Rachel's version of events, instead of relying on Miss Clack, a blatantly unreliable narrator and one who was unconnected to the events surrounding the Moonstone (7). Interestingly, the gossip surrounding the Moonstone had targeted Rachel and Godfrey, not Franklin, yet he is still desperate to ensure that no rumor will tarnish his good name. Wilkie Collins critiques the Victorian emphasis on public standing by showing how it prohibits the characters from establishing their own individual identity.

Start Date

4-9-2015 11:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 11:00 AM

"In the Eyes of the World": Reputation & Identity in The Moonstone

In The Moonstone, Franklin Blake's desperation to establish the truth of the theft of the Moonstone is indicative of the weight of public opinion and reputation in Victorian society. This emphasis on external opinion, instead of personal integrity, destroys any authentic sense of self for the characters, a condition that is exemplified by both Franklin and Rachel's unwillingness to admit to any wrongdoing, whether in public or in private. When Franklin discovers that Rachel saw him steal the Moonstone, he says "If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken," castigating her for her silence, yet, when he begins to compile first person experiences of the episode of the Moonstone, Rachel's testimony is conspicuously absent (Collins 346). I argue that this silencing of Rachel reveals Franklin's true goal in assembling this collection of stories - to clear his name of any possible blemish, not to create the most accurate rendition of events possible. If Franklin had truly thought "the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record," he would have asked for Rachel's version of events, instead of relying on Miss Clack, a blatantly unreliable narrator and one who was unconnected to the events surrounding the Moonstone (7). Interestingly, the gossip surrounding the Moonstone had targeted Rachel and Godfrey, not Franklin, yet he is still desperate to ensure that no rumor will tarnish his good name. Wilkie Collins critiques the Victorian emphasis on public standing by showing how it prohibits the characters from establishing their own individual identity.