Society and the characters through Mr. Bruff’s eyes

Mr. Bruff, especially after dealing with Betteredge and Clack, is refreshingly everything we could want in a narrator. He doesn’t start with any irrelevant quotes or spend pages talking about how it is his reluctant duty to write all this down. He understands the importance of his story and offers it willingly, and ends it in the same way when he knows his part is over. He doesn’t jump to conclusions about people or events (“The Indian plot is a mystery to me”) and admits his mistakes (“I took an unwarrantable advantage of my position”). He is concerned about his audience (“it now becomes necessary to place the reader of these lines… on a footing of perfect equality, in respect of information, with myself”) without preaching to them. At the same time, he is very smart and bases his inferences off of observations and rationality. Much of his account is of Mr. Murthwaite laying out events, and Mr. Bruff considering them and putting the pieces together. (Mr. Murthwaite congratulates him: “I told you you would find it out for yourself, Mr. Bruff, if I only gave you a fair chance.”). He is also the first narrator to describe Godfrey Ablewhite more as the reader might see him and less as someone to be worshiped. This is not to say that he is without bias because he certainly isn’t, but this was the first time I felt I was reading something that wasn’t written with some other agenda other than to explain a series of events.

All of this makes him a very trustworthy narrator, and a particularly interesting one to me because of something we talked about early on in our reading: like Sergeant Cuff, Mr. Bruff is neither a part of the family nor is he an outsider. Although he works for the family, he doesn’t have the same kind of attachment as Gabriel, so he is able to be more objective than he is.

Mr. Bruff’s relationship to the family is one of business, and this puts him in a very important position. He is privy to their most private affairs, and he describes his relationship to the Moonstone on p. 283, and claims, with an amount of validity, that “no living person… can claim to have had such an intimate connection with the romance of the Indian Diamond as mine has been”. He describes his facilitation of the diamond on its journey, and it’s the first time we really view the diamond in this way: as an object part of an inheritance (besides in Herncastle’s will). The journey he describes is very drama and curse-free, taking a lot of mystique out of the diamond and offering a different perspective on it. Mr. Bruff also offers a new view of Rachel and her marriage as one possibly motivated by inheritance. Before this, we’ve mostly seen this as a love triangle in which Rachel makes a choice, and Mr. Bruff introduces the possibility of money playing a significant role in motivating her suitors.

Furthermore, Mr. Bruff offers us a view of society from a fairly uncomplicated, middle-class perspective. In addition to highlighting the importance of money in the Verinder family, he shows a lot of respect to characters like Mr. Murthwaite (seeing him as brave and is interested in him “as a man who had passed through many dangerous adventures”) but is aghast at “the audacity of a person in Mr. Luker’s position” in his involvement. He is an example of a product of this Victorian society that we’ve been studying.

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