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Girl With A Pearl Earring Theme Essay

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VCE English: Unit 1

Text Response: Girl With a Pearl Earring

"Take care to remain yourself" This text shows that remaining true to oneself must be balanced with family obligations. Discuss


Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl With a Pearl Earring explores the notion of 'self' thorough the main character Griet and her journey from innocence to experience. Firstly, we see throughout the novel Griet is aware she has much to learn about the world. Furthermore, under Vermeer's roof, Griet's self exploration spans many realms; artistically, emotionally, morally and religiously, and she emerges a more complex and mature character. Moreover, Vermeer assists Griet to expand her mind and perspective on life. Finally, Griet emerge from the Vermeer household a stronger person more aware of herself and her surroundings and ultimately remains true to herself. Though she becomes temporarily '"lost" in Vermeer's world, Griet ultimately heeds Van Leeuwenhoek's warning and remains true to herself.

At the beginning of the novel, Griet's "wide eyes" are a symbol of her purity and innocence, while at the same time suggesting that she is curious and has much to learn about the world. She is a simple character who "does not often lie" and takes pride in having "scrubbed the front step so hard." We see that she is a girl with strong morals as she diligently conceals every last strand of her hair, presses her lips together and lowers her eyes to men in order to remain a "virtuous" woman. Griet is also close to her family as she feels her mother knows her well. We can also see her father's heartache in losing his daughter- "I'm sorry Griet, I would like to have done better for you. As easily as "the pie slice she had made were ruined", the comfort and security of Griet's life was taken from her when her father "lost his trade" and she felt "pushed....into the street". As she begins to walk to Papist's corner, we note that her "back is to her home", which foreshadows the way Griet develops with Vermeer and distances herself from her former life.

Under Vermeer's roof, Griet temporarily becomes " his world" as she loses sight of the things she once valued so dearly. It does not take long before Griet begins to feel she has "two families now and they must not mix" As Griet's ties with her family begin to weaken, so too, do her moral convictions. Griet is so blinded by her infatuation with Vermeer that she becomes his servant not on just a domestic, but an emotional level as well. She sacrifices her morals on many occasions and does not remain true to herself- "I did whatever he asked of me". We see the truth in Van Leeuwenhoek's warning that the "women in his paintings-he traps them in his world," as it is only with Vermeer that Griet loses control.

When she was with Pieter she would "not let him do all he wanted", but for Vermeer she pierces her ears, parts her lips, reveals her hair and is in all sense a "ruined" woman.

Not only does Vermeer become the focus for Griet's emergent sexuality, he also serves to expand her mind and perspective on life. Teaching her that there is "little pure white in clouds", Griet realises that the world is not always as it seems. Similarly, Griet's religious prejudices instilled in her by her family and society are



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