Author: Tracy Chevalier
Title: Girl with a pearl earring
Year of first publication: 1999
Edition used: first edition
Number of Pages: 248
The book goes about a girl, Griet; sheâ€™s from a poor family. They live in Delft. She must become a maid because she has to help maintain her family (Her father had an accident so he canâ€™t work). She becomes a maid to the family Vermeer. She has to clean the house for them. She doesnâ€™t like it there, but she gets to know the family a lot better. One of the things that distinguish her from the Vermeerâ€™s is her faith: they are Catholics while she is Protestant. The van Ruyvens are the constituents for the master, the painter Johannes Vermeer. They say what he must paint, and then they buy the painting from him. He is very critical of his own work. He tries to find the perfect composition and balance. And sometimes just looks at the painting for days, and makes only very small changes. This frustrates his mother in law who lives with the family (Maria Thins) because she is responsible for the household and needs to feed many mouths with the money he gets from his paintings. When Catharina, the wife of Johannes, gets a new son, Griet has to move from her sleeping place to the crucifixion room. Therefore, she gets by the paintings every day. She becomes obsessed with them. On one day, the master decided that Griet has to assist him. They both wanted to keep it a secret from Catharina and her mother, Maria Thins. Catharina does not trust Griet because she is a maid. And most of the time the people whom the master is painting, wear expensive jewellery. One day Catharina and Maria Thins found out, but they decide that Griet may go on with it, because now she helps him, he works faster. But another constituent, van Leeuwenhoek, wants the master to paint Griet for him, whom he calls: â€œthe wide eyed maidâ€. When the painting is almost done, Johannes feels that hereâ€™s something missing, and he wants Griet to wear a couple of pearl earrings. Griet doesnâ€™t want that, because if Catharina finds out that a maid wore a set of earrings belonging to her, Griet gets a lot of trouble. But Griet canâ€™t refuse her master (she actually is in love with him) so she gives in. When he pierces her ear, which is a very symbolic and sensual moment. But Catharina finds out and they get into a fight, and Griet runs away. She marries the son of the butcher, Pieter, (She cares for Pieter and he loves her, but it is not the same kind of love she has for her master) and she becomes a butcherâ€™s wife, and they get a child also.
2.2 The main characters are:
Griet: female, 16 till 28 years old, she is protestant, she is a maid for the family Vermeer, She has very wide opened eyes, and she always wears a cap on her head, to hide her hair, She is very interested in the paintings of her master.
Johannes Vermeer: male, about 38 years old, he is catholic, he is a painter and he has a wife and four (later in the book five) children.
Pieter the son: male, about 18 till 30 years old, he is the son of the butcher, and later in the book he is a butcher himself, he loves Griet, and wants to marry her, but she always says that she is too young.
2.3 general theme in this book is:
Social relations and life in the 17th century is the general theme in this book. Faith is also a theme and love for beauty versus economic values also.
The place where the story is set is Delft, in the Netherlands. The most of the occupants of delft are protestant, and live in the protestant part of Delft (And so does Griet her parents). And there is a Catholic part, where the Catholics live (And so does de family Vermeer).
The story started in 1664, and finished in 1676
Chronological, no uses of flashbacks, in the beginning the story has been told by year, but on the end they skip ten years.
4 Technical aspects
The story is been told from the point of view of Griet.