1. What function is served by the preface? What do you make of its unusually personal tone?

2. What do we know of the character and circumstances of the original ancestor who brought the diamond from India? What expectations are aroused by the knowledge of the curse? (prophecy sets up plot, 58) Could this identification of the sources of imperial wealth have political implications?

3. How does the narrator of the initial fragment feel about his relative's procurement of the diamond? (will not speak with him again)

3. What reasons does the narrator of the prefatory fragment give for not accusing his cousin of murder? Are these entirely convincing?

First Period, chapters 1-23

4. Who is the novel's first speaker? What stereotypes may motivate the choice of an elderly butler as the first speaker? What personal peculiarities and traits of character does he exhibit?

5. At first reading, does the reader trust Gabriel Betteredge? What are some implications of his name?

6. What symbolic/allegorical meanings seem attached to the diamond? How do we know? What do you make of the fact that it contains a flaw? (92)

7. What symbolism attaches to the use of names in this book?

8.  To what kind of ideal reader does this novel seem to address itself? (eager to follow clues, interested in digressions) What is notable about the narrator's relationship to the reader?

9. What is the effect of constant reminders to the reader to pay attention, note something which may be useful later, etc.?

10. What facts about Gabriel Betteredge are offered to confirm the reliability of his account? How do his traits of character serve the narrative?

11. How reliable is his narrative as a documentary? How can you tell?

12. How reliable are his judgments of people and situations? Is he accurate in assessing the behavior of his employers?

13. How does his own class position affect his descriptions and judgments? (idealizes his employers, Rachel best woman in world, 109)

14. Are there situations in which he inexplicably refuses to report what he knows, or to act, and if so, how do you explain these lapses?

15. What effect is provided by the many comments and intrusions of Gabriel's daughter Penelope?

16. What do we learn about Rosanna Spears' past? What are some oddities of her recent behavior, and what interpretations do they seem to suggest? (deceptive, attached to Mr. Franklin)

17. How are we intended to interpret the references to objective and subjective understandings? (a parody of German philosophy, 98)

18. What is added to the novel by the fact that characters eavesdrop on one another? (e. g., Penelope overhears Godfrey Ablewhite's proposal)

19. What light is shed on Lord John's motives in bequeathing the diamond to Rachel by the tale of his prior visit to his sister's home, as reported by Gabriel? (87) What further features of his will seem ominous? (Rachel is to receive it only if Lady Verinder is still living, 96)

20. How do Franklin and Gabriel interpret these motives? (are unwilling to ascribe definite evil to him or to the situation)

21. How are the Indian guests treated by the household? Which of their rituals is observed, and how are we supposed to interpret this?

22. What view of Indian culture/reality seems conveyed by the portrayal of their clairvoyant powers?

23. Which aspects of Godfrey's character are shown to be hypocritical? What critique of the world of philanthropy does Collins seem to be making? (his speeches on behalf of charity are characterized as performances, 111)

24. What use does this book make of national stereotypes? Are these "naturalized"? (Gabriel sees French, German, and Italian behaviors in Franklin--finds all these unnatural)

25. What is the effect of the frequent appeal to chronology in describing events?

26. To what degree does this novel create or utilize class/occupational/national stereotypes, and of what kinds? To what extent does the plot undercut them? (servant is not the thief; butler is attached to household; Indians are honorable according to their code)

27. What is the function of the different forms of address used by the characters? How do middle-class persons seem to address servants?

28. What role is served by Murthwaite? What is the significance of his recognition that the Indians are men of high caste?

29. What mistakes are committed which led to the theft of the diamond? (Franklin carries it on his person; it's left in house) What is the significance of loosing the dogs in the yard? (had anyone entered they would have sounded the alarm)

30. What emphasis is placed on professional specialties? (doctors, detectives) How has the treatment of police officers and detectives changed since Mary Barton? (Sargeant Cuff is in fact perceptive)

31. How do the several characters react to the theft of the diamond--Miss Rachel, Rosanna, Godfrey, Franklin, etc.?

32. What important role is performed by Sargeant Cuff? What are features of his approach to crime? (systematic attender to details, brings experience to bear on issues of motives) What are some of his personal traits and eccentricities?

33. Does Sargeant Cuff possess traits later associated with Sherlock Holmes and other fin de siecle detectives? What features associated with detective novels does The Moonstone display?

34. How does Cuff explain Rosanna's seemingly suspicious behaviors? (182) Are there comic aspects to his inferences? (very detailed, ingeniously elaborate)

35. How is the seashore characterized? What is added by the description of the quicksands and tides? (description of sea adds to fear and awe, 217-19)

36. What reason does Gabriel give for not reproducing Mrs. Yolland's Yorkshire dialect? Why is this speech distinction noted? (an indicator of the narrator's and audience's class and relative sophistication)

37. What does Sargeant Cuff learn from Mrs. Yolland, and by what process?

38. According to Sargeant Cuff's surmises, what has Rosanna done with the tin box she was carrying? (191) 

39. On what grounds does Sargeant Cuff decide that Rachel has stolen the diamond? (176) Do his conjectures seem plausible? (feels she may have secret debts) What evidence does he give? (227-28)

40. What grounds does he give for supposing that Rosanna is her accomplice? (diamond will need to be sold, will need some knowledge of way to convey stolen goods, which Rosanna may know)

41. What significance does he attach to the paint-stained nightgown? Might there be other explanations for such a stain? (could be mistaken in the estimates of the time to dry; someone else could have entered room)

42. What is the purpose of including Betteridge's prosy and unflattering animadversions on women? (comic irrelevance)

43. What does Penelope give as motives for Rosanna's suicide? (her hopeless love of Franklin)

44. Where does volume 1 end? (news of Rosanna's suicide) Was this a good choice for an ending? (sad, but leaves mystery)

45. With what emotions does Rachel leave her home? (seems agitated) Whom does she snub on parting? (Franklin)

46. What is the content of Lady Veringer's letter to Franklin? (Rachel still resents him)

47 What revelations about Rosanna's death does Limping Lizzie bring?

48. Which decision of Mr. Franklin now delays the plot? (he leaves for Europe)

49. What are Sargeant Cuff's parting prophecies? (241) Do they come true? (Rosanna's letter will arrive with news; will see Indians again; will hear from the money lender)

50. What final news does Sargeant Cuff send to Betteridge? (Indians are surrounding money-lender's establishment, 252-53))

51. As Betteridge's story ends, with what loose ends and questions is the reader left? (Why does Miss Rachel snub Franklin, and why is she so distressed? What is the meaning of Rosanna Spears' distressed behavior? Why does Sargeant Cuff believe that Rachel is carrying away the Moonstone [211]? What explains the unusual way in which Rosanna has posted her letter to Mrs. Yolland? [she wishes it to arrive after her death])

52. At the conclusion of his tale, what does Gabriel tell us about his part in a wider narration? (was asked to set down only that which he knew, narrative is thus limited, 254) Do you think his account is consistent with the fact that we later learn it is retrospective and written after the perpetrators of the theft have been revealed? (often seems to believe what later is revealed to be false; seemingly speaks with only present knowledge, adding the suspense of uncertainty)

Who is finally revealed as the thief, and what are elements of the scene in which he is unmasked? Who is the uncoverer of the guilty secret?

Second Period, First Narrative, Chapters 1-8, "The Discovery of the Truth"

What are some important facts which we learn from Miss Clack's narrative?

What is the significance of her name?  How would you describe her character? (sanctimonious, 256) 

Why do you think she was chosen for the second narration? (comic relief, contrast with Betteridge)

Under what circumstances does she write her tale? (paid by Franklin) What does the reader infer from the fact that Frederick wishes this tale told? (he has survived and is still prosperous)

What are her opinions of the persons we have met in Gabriel's account? (she dislikes Rachel, Franklin, and Gabriel; condescends to Lady Verinder; feels all are going to hell)

What kind of religion is parodied in her behavior?

What are features of the deception and violent attack on Mr. Ablewhite? (an Indian manuscript is present in the house, a "brown" arm attacks him, nothing is stolen) How does the attack on Ablewhite differ from a similar one perpetrated on Mr. Luker? (paper with receipt for diamond stolen from latter, 264)

What do you make of Mr. Luker's name? (a pun on lucre, as in "filthy lucre")

How does Rachel respond to Mr. Ablewhite's visit shortly after this episode? (demands to know all both about the attack [269] and about public opinions of his own behavior) Of what is Godfrey Ablewhite suspected?

What motivates her to insist that he write out a memorandum asserting his innocence, and why do you think he later burns it? (it could be used against him if he is caught in theft)

How does Rachel behave toward Miss Clack? (calls her Clack--quite rude, though the narrator doesn't seem to criticize)

What marriage proposal does Miss Clack overhear? What arguments does Godfrey use to persuade Miss Rachel to become engaged to him? (he argues that respect rather than love is sufficient for marriage) Are you surprised that she accepts?

What are the terms under which Rachel has inherited her parents' estate? (has income but no right to alienate the property)

What resolution does Rachel make after her conversation with Mr. Bruff, and why? (will not marry Godfrey since he has reveals his mercenary motives by asking about the contents of her mother's will)

What amusing scene occurs when Miss Clack attempts to quiet Mr. Ablewhite Sr.? (he curses, tears up one of her tracts)

How does Miss Clack respond to the news that Lady Verinder is fatally ill? (happy for the opportunity to evangelize her) How does she respond to her death? (believes that Lady Verinder is unredeemed)

How is the novel furthered by the fact that after her mother's death Miss Clack spends time with Rachel? (able to overhear conversations between Godfrey Ablewhite and Rachel and between the senior Mr. Ablewhite and Rachel; able to witness Mr. Bruff's closeness to Rachel)

What account of his broken engagement does Godfrey Ablewhite give to Miss Clack? What may have been his motives? (318-19) 

Under what circumstances does Miss Clack end her account? (Mr. Blake doesn't want her to anticipate the conclusion; documents their rupture with letters)

Second Narrative, contributed by Matthew Bruff, Chapters 1-3

What reasons does Mr. Bruff give for his narrative? (he can explain the reasons for the broken engagement, and he can testify that he has met one of the Indians)

In what year had Lady Verinder changed her will, and to what end? (1848, made changes in guardianship) Who had examined her will directly after her death? (an agent of Godfrey Ablewhite, father or son)

What will Rachel inherit? (two houses and an income in trust)

What question does the visiting Indian ask of Mr. Bruff? Who helps him interpret the Indian's motive? (he asks how long one may have before a loan must be repaid; wishes to obtain the diamond when it is again released one year later; Mr. Murthwaite prompts Mr. Bruff to fear a violent act on the anniversary)

What else does he learn from Mr. Murthwaite? (contents of letter sent to Indians, 353; their plan to obtain the diamond a year after its deposit in the bank)

What does Mr. Murthwaite predict will be the result of the situation? (Indians will not be balked on their third attempt)

Third Narrative, Contributed by Franklin Blake, chapters 1-10

Where had Franklin Blake traveled after his rejection by Rachel? (he is on edge of desert when the news arrives, 357) What change brings him home? (his father's sudden death and his inheritance of the latter's estate)

What motivates Franklin to continue the quest to solve the mystery of the diamond? (Rachel soundly refuses to see him)

What does Blake discover, and how does he discover it? (letter from Roanna tells him where to find the box with his paint-stained nightgown) Under what circumstances does he retrieve the box? (alone near the quicksand, following her instructions?

What emotions and motives does she reveal in her letter? (had found his nightgown with the stain on it; had wanted to be able to aid Franklin since she was aware of his act)

At what point does volume 2 end? (at point when he realizes that he has stolen the diamond)

Does it make sense that he would not have recognized his own nightclothes?

What means does Blake use to relieve stress? (drinks grog with Betteredge, 379)

At what point does Ezra Jennings appear? What is his current occupation (doctor's assistant) and how is he described? (390)

Under what circumstances do Rachel and Franklin finally meet again, and what account does she give of his actions on the night of the theft? Why had she not revealed what she knew previously? (420, still loves him, 421; had tried to save him, offering to pay his debts before the theft was known and it was too late)

What advice does Mr. Bruff give to Franklin? Does he take it? (not to attempt to understand the past--Franklin attempts to extract key from his memories)

As sleuth, what loose ends does Franklin Blake attempt to follow, and in which cases is he frustrated? (Godfrey Ablewhite has left country, Sargeant Cuff is in Ireland pursuing roses)

What do we infer will happen later? (they will reappear at the right point in the plot)

How is Ezra Jennings described at this point, and what seems to be his effect on others? What do you make of the fact that Franklin keeps encountering him?

Why are the two men so wary of one another in their first conversation? What rationale does Mr. Jennings give for speaking of his past and present problems to Franklin? Does this seem necessary for the plot?

What does Jennings infer from Franklin's tale of the night of the theft and from his own documentary notes taken during Mr. Candy's feverish ravings? (Mr. Candy had put laudanum into Franklin's medicine and Franklin had acted under the latter's inference)

What seems to motivate his eager efforts to help Franklin?

What does he propose as an experiment to attempt to prove Franklin's innocence? Whom does he offer to write in order to further the result? (must ask Rachel for permission to use her Yorkshire house)

Fourth Narrative, Extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings

What is the advantage of having this portion of the story narrated by Ezra Jennings? What purpose is served by his notes on his own physical condition and painful seizures?

Who are chosen as witnesses for the experiment? Is it significant that they have all initially been hostile?

How has Rachel responded to Jennings' letter? What role does she play in the outcome? (witnesses it all; helps in preparing the medicine)

Are there erotic overtones in the scene in which Franklin enters her bedroom and steals the diamond, observed by her and others?

What part of the experiment is not successful, and why? (unable to replicate all the circumstances of the preceding year)

Fifth Narrative, The Story Resumed by Franklin Blake, chapter 1 (only one chapter)

Why is Franklin Blake the best witness to tell the account of what happened at the bank? (doesn't understand the situation completely; makes incorrect judgment of bystanders)

What false leads do Mr. Bruff and Franklin pursue?

What causes Blake's tardiness in returning home that evening, and what are the results? (not able to act until Indians have left Britain)

Who meanwhile has been successfully on the trail, and which persons has he followed? (Gooseberry has followed the men disguised respectively as a sailor and a mechanic)

What strange actions does he notice? (man who pretends to be mechanic enters the room which will be occupied by the "sailor" and pretends to be drunk)

What has in fact been the "mechanic"'s motive?

Who is discovered the next morning in room no. 10 of the lodging house, and who penetrates his disguise? (Sargeant Cuff)

How has he met his death? (Indians have entered through trapdoor)

By what fortunate accident had Godfrey Ablewhite been prevented from leaving London? (ship was being cleaned that night, so that he couldn't sleep on it)

Who had anticipated this result? (Sargeant Cuff) How do you think he may have reached this conclusion?

Sixth Narrative, Contributed by Sargeant Cuff

What background information has Sargeant Cuff meanwhile gleaned about Godfrey Ablewhite? (must repay 20,000 which he has squandered on a villa and mistress, among other follies) How large a payment is he required to make to the trustee whose estate he has squandered? (300 pounds immediately)

How has he raised this sum? (from pawning the moonstone for a year)

How was Godfrey able to take possession of the moonstone? (Franklin had given it to him before falling into sleep under the influence of opium)

What document does Sargeant Cuff now convey? (letter from Mr. Luker) Why may the latter have been willing to give this testimony? Does it seem likely that Godfrey would have told his story in such detail to Mr. Luker, that he would not have disguised his theft, and that Mr. Luker would have admitted to laundering stolen goods?

What measures has Sargeant Cuff taken to attempt the retrieval of the moonstone? (has sent message overland to meet ship on its arrival in India)

Seventh Narrative, In a Letter From Mr. Candy

What account does Mr. Candy give of Ezra Jenning's death? (dies in pain and wishes no grave marker) Of what importance is his death to the main plot? (balances happiness of main plot)

What do those who remember feel towards him? (respect for his goodness and pity for his fate)

Eighth Narrative, Contributed by Gabriel Betteredge

With what happy event is Gabriel preoccupied? (wedding between Rachel and Franklin) Which of the parallels with Robinson Crusoe comes to pass? (Franklin and Rachel are expecting a child, as had Robinson Crusoe)

Is it appropriate that Gabriel Betteredge should be the last narrator from the original family group?


How have the Indians managed to evade detection and to escape with the moonstone? (change ships and routes, then when the ship is becalmed they steal a dingy and row to shore during the night)

In what setting is the moonstone finally located? (very remote religious ceremony)

What is the significance of the Indian ending, as recounted by Murthwaite? Is it fitting that he should be the last Englishman able to view the moonstone?

What penance must the Indians undergo, and what meaning do you see in this?

Has the moonstone found its rightful resting place? (the Indians appreciate its symbolic meaning as a sacred rather than economic object) What are some implications of the novel's final words? (there may be yet more adventures, though not in England)

General Questions:

In the end, who has solved the crime? (multiple contributors to the final solution, even as there have been multiple narrators)

What resemblances do you find between The Moonstone and other Victorian novels you've read (in use of servant narrator, multiple narratives, search for perpetrator of crime, etc.)? [Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, Dickens' Bleak House, Bronte's Wuthering Heights] What are some striking differences?

What are some features of the novel's style and tone? (fast paced, slightly comic) What are some instances of irony?

Does the novel offer any critique of the aristocratic characters it describes? Of the British class system?

Are the characters portrayed with depth? What do we learn about the motives of Mr. Franklin? Godfrey? Rachel? Rosanna? Would you say that a strong feature of this book was its characterizations?

What are some comic aspects of the novel's plot and mode of narration?

Which of the novel's features are identified with "popular" or "sensation" fiction? (emphasis on plot over character, swift pace, crime detection plot, murder and deceit, employment of stereotypes)

What is unusual about the novel's mode of narration? (multiple starts, digressions)

What are some ways in which the different narratives complement one another?

What effect does the existence of multiple narratives have on the reader's assumptions about truth?

How are the diamond theft and romantic plots intertwined? Is the ending appropriate for both? What moral does the closure seem to suggest, if any?