Theme Of Imperialism In The Moonstone

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Published in 1868, Wilkie Collins’ detective novel The Moonstone is unique in the mystery genre in that it does not have one primary detective. Instead, the story unfolds through the writings of eleven distinct characters. Approximately half of the story is narrated by Gabriel Betteredge, a man who is decidedly Anglocentric. Throughout the story, biases play a role in its deeper meaning with regards to India and its relationship with Britain. Gabriel Betteredge’s biased narration, Mr. Murthwaite’s role in the narrative and the exclusion of the Indian perspective show the true meaning of the Moonstone as a symbol for British imperialism. After spending his entire life in the service of one wealthy British family, the first and primary narrator …show more content…
Murthwaite because he possesses more knowledge than his English counterparts, despite his removal from Indian society. Ironically, he tells Mr. Bruff that “the clairvoyance in this case is simply a development of the romantic side of the Indian character” when in fact their Anglocentric fascination with the exotic is why the case of the Moonstone is so intriguing to them. (46). John Reed claims that “only the outsiders are beneficial” to the greater meaning of the novel because “only they can penetrate the cloud of unimaginativeness” (English Imperialism and the Unacknowledged Crime of the Moonstone). In this way, Mr. Murthwaite’s dual understanding of English and Indian cultures is critical to the understanding of the Indian perspective because he observes and communicates what the other narrators ignore. For example, he notes that the jugglers were high caste Brahmins and how their willingness to abandon their social and religious status proves the vitality of the stone to their religion, while to the British the stone is simply an object of financial value. Mr. Murthwaite is a reflection of the British conscience, which is most clearly illustrated when Mr. Blake and Mr. Bruff ask him for clarifications regarding the case. The traveler remarks, “the Indian plot, Mr. Bruff, can only be a mystery to you because you have never seriously examined it” (288). In the same vein, British imperialism was blindly accepted and thought of as a “positive good” for the “ignorant” natives, though its atrocities and injustices were obvious if anyone took the time to think about it. A voice of logic and a guiding moral force of the novel, Mr. Murthwaite tries to help the other narrators realize their own hypocrisies but instead, he is often

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