Reversing Traditional Gender Roles

After Miss Clack’s lengthy moralizing and over the top narration, it is a relief to hear from the more rationally minded Mr. Blake. The contrast between these narrators particularly becomes clear when Mr. Blake confronts Rachel about her seemingly ill-founded resentment and hostility that she has treated him with since the night that the moonstone disappeared. To both my and Mr. Blake’s great surprise, Rachel exclaims, “‘you are – as base a wretch as ever walked the earth . . . You stole it – I saw you!’” (355). The night of Rachel’s birthday party, she saw Mr. Blake go into her room and take the moonstone out of the drawer in which she had hidden it. The ferocity of her anger thus derives from her revulsion of the fact that Rachel believes Mr. Blake to be guilty, and that he went through the pretenses of acting as if he wished to help the police find it, going through all the motions of an innocent man in order to cover up his true culpability.

Although Rachel’s ferocity is well founded, the lengths she has taken to hide what she thinks is Franklin Blake’s crime in fact represents a flip of traditional gender roles in The Moonstone. Typically, it is the man’s responsibility to protect the woman in such a situation, but as Rachel saw Blake commit the crime, she rises above her status as the weaker sex and takes it upon herself to protect him. Even when he tries to defend himself, Rachel “lifted her hand impatiently, and stopped me” (354). Instead of deferring to Mr. Blake, Rachel takes control over the conversation, and reveals great strength of character in dealing with him that would not normally be characteristic of a female character in a novel from this time period. Rachel barely contains the mixture of passion and loathing that overtake her when he proves shocked at her revelation, and yet she has power over him, because she could testify that he was in fact the one who removed the moonstone from her room. It is only her love for Mr. Blake that has prevented her from going to the police and telling them what she saw on that fateful night. The power she has over him and her ability to shield him from harm seems to suggest that Collins wishes to reverse the normal connection between a man and a woman, and call into question the traditional nature of amorous relationships throughout the novel.

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