Moonstone (Collins)

Discussion Questions
1. Sitting near the Shivering Sand with Betteredge early in the story, Rosanna says, "It looks to me as if it had hundreds of suffocating people under it—all struggling to get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the dreadful deeps!" What does she mean? Who are the people who can’t escape, and why can’t they?
2. Near the end of the first period of the novel, Sergeant Cuff makes three predictions. How do they affect your expectations of what will happen later? How do you account for Miss Rachel’s continued silence at this point?
3. When The Moonstone was first published, the narrative of Drusilla Clack was one of its most popular sections. The titles of the tracts she so profusely distributes ("Satan under the Tea Table," etc.) are in fact only slightly parodied from those that Collins encountered in his father’s religious circle. How does Collins allow the reader to see the vanity, greed, and pettiness beneath the model of piety and propriety she portrays in her story?
4. Collins had a lifelong interest in the inner workings of the mind, especially when it was under of the influence of "mesmerism" or opium. What does Collins’s treatment of dreams, drugs, and delirium suggest about the value of the subconscious and the subjective mind, especially as opposed to the more objective methods of Sergeant Cuff?
5. After a conventional happy ending in England, Collins shifts the setting to conclude with an epilogue in India. How does the portrayal of the Brahmins here compare with that of Betteredge and Miss Clack? How does the meaning of story change because of the Indian frame at its opening and closing?
6. Dickens was primarily a master of character, Collins of plot, argued T.S. Eliot. Yet each learned much from the other during their years of intense collaboration. (Dickens’s final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, draws heavily on The Moonstone.) What do you think of Eliot’s assertion that "Dickens’s characters are real because there is no one like them; Collins’s because they are so painstakingly coherent and life-like"?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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