Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier Book Review
In the novel, Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, it explores how others treat Griet badly. As Griet’s family’s financial condition deteriorates, it causes Griet to take responsibility to support them by working as a maid in the Vermeer household. Upon arriving at the Vermeers, she realizes that her job as a maid restrains her from speaking out against those above her, even when Cornelia invariably accuses her of doing things she has not. As more time goes on at the Vermeers, things become problematic for Griet as more people abuse their power, even those closest to her. Hence, as a result of others using their power for their own benefits, many of them take advantage of Griet, which ultimately leads to her loss of freedom. As Griet’s mother, Van ruijven and Vermeer place their burdens upon Griet.
Throughout the novel, Vermeer repeatedly abuses Griet's feelings for him, as he would use it to convince her to do anything he would desire. From the beginning of the novel, Vermeer uses Griet’s innocence to his favour, as he would delude Griet into thinking that posing for the painting will help to get his attention, while he is not even interested in her: “I did not mind that... looking sideways for long periods of time gave me headaches. I did not mind when sometimes he had me move my head again and again… I did whatever he asked of me” (Chevalier 190). This shows that Vermeer's presence holds a tremendous amount of influence on Griet, as whenever she is with him, she forgets everything, even her well-being, as her emotions for Vermeer blind her into doing whatever he wants. Although it is evident that Vermeer cares more about making his painting precise for Van ruijven than he does about Griet, as he does not even care to think about Griet’s well-being when he gets her to do whatever it takes for the painting. The closer Vermeer gets to completing the painting, the more he becomes inconsiderate of Griet’s condition. As Vermeer does not consider the consequences of how his actions can negatively affect Griet: “He had seen Catharina’s pearl and that was what he would make me wear. He used what he wanted for his paintings, without considering the result” (195). This shows that Vermeer is self-centred, for he only considers his benefit of the painting and does not care to recognize that Griet might lose her job as a maid simply for wearing the pearl earrings in the portrait. However, in this situation, it is evident that Vermeer holds great control over Griet’s stay, for he could have easily chosen to visualize the earrings on her, yet, he exploits his authority as he makes Griet helplessly compelled into wearing them solely to keep her job in the household. Though as soon as Vermeer gets the finished painting, his deceptive nature is seen through as he leaves Griet to her state: “I waited for a moment, my hair out over my shoulders, but he did not come. Now that the painting was finished he no longer wanted me” (210). This shows that Vermeer never considered Griet as a love interest of his, but a “prop” that will help him earn money from Van ruijven for his family. Besides, it further proves that he merely uses Griet as an object for his painting, as he never even acknowledges Griet, who has to sacrifice her morals and even her job as a maid, which gives her the ability to feed her family, for they rely entirely upon her wages. Therefore, Vermeer solely cares about himself and not even slightly about Griet, for he exploits her feelings for his benefit of gaining money.
In conclusion, Griet faces many hardships throughout her life, like Vermeer, who she trusts with her feelings for, misuses her emotions to further take advantage of her, which eventually leads to the loss of her freedom. As Vermeer would mislead Griet into thinking he is interested in her, merely to use her as an object for his paintings. Thus, in the novel, through Griet, Chevalier shows how painful it is for one to trust another with their feelings with no further judgement, for one could effortlessly manipulate another with their emotions.