GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING her gray mantle back from her shoulders, and I saw then that under her dark blue dress a baby was growing. It would arrive by. Chevalier, Tracy - Girl with a Pearl Earring. Read more · The Girl With the Pearl Earring · Read more · The Girl With A Secret. Read more · Pearl · Read more. Girl With A Pearl Earring. p. 1 / Embed or link this publication. Description. a book based on the creation of the famous painting by Vermeer. Popular Pages.
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PDF | Insight Text Guides Girl With a Pearl Earring is designed to help secondary English students understand and analyse the text. Girl With a Pearl Earring. View PDF. book | Fiction | UK & Comm → HarperCollins. US → Plume. One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. EKPHRASIS IN GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING Miriam de Paiva Vieira [email protected] Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible.
I was glad that earlier I had scrubbed the front steps so hard. They were coming to the kitchen. I pushed the leeks I had been chopping into place, then set the knife on the table, wiped my hands on my apron and pressed my lips together to smooth them.
My mother appeared in the doorway, her eyes two warnings. Behind her the woman had to duck her head because she was so tall, taller than the man following her. All of our family, even my father and brother, were small. The woman looked as if she had been blown about by the wind, although it was a calm day.
Her cap was askew so that tiny blond curls escaped and hung about her forehead like bees which she swatted at impatiently several times. Her collar needed straightening and was not as crisp as it could be. Her eyes were two light brown buttons, a color I had rarely seen coupled with blond hair. She made a show of watching me hard, but could not fix her attention on me, her eyes darting about the room. I nodded respectfully to the man and woman.
Is she strong enough? The woman cried out. He spoke her name as if he held cinnamon in his mouth. The woman stopped, making an effort to quiet herself.
I stepped over and picked up the knife, polishing the blade on my apron before placing it back on the table. The knife had brushed against the vegetables. I set a piece of carrot back in its place. The man was watching me, his eyes grey like the sea. He had no beard or moustache, and I was glad, for it gave him a clean appearance. He wore a black cloak over his shoulders, a white shirt, and a fine lace collar. His hat pressed into hair the red of brick washed by rain.
I was surprised by the question but knew enough to hide it. For the soup. There were five slices: I had used a knife edge to shape each slice, and placed a carrot disc in the center. I could not say why I had laid out the vegetables as I did. I simply set them as I felt they should be, but I was too frightened to say so to a gentleman.
Why is that? I looked at my mother, who nodded slightly. I did not want him to think I was idle. From the corner of my eye I saw a movement. My sister, Agnes, was peering round the doorpost and had shaken her head at my response. I did not often lie.
I looked down. The man turned his head slightly and Agnes disappeared. He dropped the pieces of carrot and cabbage into their slices.
The cabbage shred fell partly into the onions. I wanted to reach over and tease it into place. I did not, but he knew that I wanted to. He was testing me. Though she was annoyed with his attention to me, it was me she frowned at. The man glanced once more at what was to be the soup, then nodded at me and followed the women. When my mother returned I was sitting by the vegetable wheel. I waited for her to speak. She was hunching her shoulders as if against a winter chill, though it was summer and the kitchen was hot.
If you do well, you will be paid eight stuivers a day. You will live with them. They have agreed to that. The pie slices I had made so carefully were ruined. I climbed the stairs to see my father. He was sitting at the front of the attic by the window, where the light touched his face.
It was the closest he came now to seeing. Father had been a tile painter, his fingers still stained blue from painting cupids, maids, soldiers, ships, children, fish, flowers, animals onto white tiles, glazing them, firing them, selling them.
One day the kiln exploded, taking his eyes and his trade. He was the lucky one—two other men died. I sat next to him and held his hand. I could not think of anything to say that would not sound reproachful. I would like to have done better for you. He will treat you well.
Do you know him? It was a view of Delft, from the Rotterdam and Schiedam Gates. With the sky that took up so much of the painting, and the sunlight on some of the buildings. I remembered it well, remembered thinking that I had stood at the very spot many times and never seen Delft the way the painter had. That was the painter, Vermeer. That was Johannes Vermeer and his wife. As we gathered my things she explained why I was to work for the Vermeers. Luke, and was when your father had his accident last year?
Remember the box your father gave money to every week for years? But it goes only so far, you see, especially now with Frans in his apprenticeship and no money coming in.
We have no choice. Then your father heard that your new master was looking for a maid who could clean his studio without moving anything, and he put forward your name, thinking that as headman, and knowing our circumstances, Vermeer would be likely to try to help. As you do for your father now that he cannot see. It was one thing to do this for a blind man, though. Agnes said nothing to me after the visit. When I got into bed next to her that night she remained silent, though she did not turn her back to me.
She lay gazing at the ceiling. Once I had blown out the candle it was so dark I could see nothing. I turned towards her. I have to. And a bit of cheese. First Frans, then you. He and she had always fought like cats but she sulked for days once he was gone. At ten she was the youngest of us three children, and had never before known a time when Frans and I were not there. Besides, it was no surprise when Frans went. Our father had saved hard to pay the apprentice fee, and talked endlessly of how Frans would learn another aspect of the trade, then come back and they would set up a tile factory together.
Now our father sat by the window and never spoke of the future. After the accident Frans had come home for two days. He had not visited since.
The last time I saw him I had gone to the factory across town where he was apprenticed. He looked exhausted and had burns up and down his arms from pulling tiles from the kiln. He told me he worked from dawn until so late that at times he was too tired even to eat. I hugged my mother and Agnes. My father handed me something wrapped in a handkerchief.
Most of his tiles we had at home were faulty in some way—chipped or cut crookedly, or the picture was blurred because the kiln had been too hot. This one, though, my father kept specially for us.
It was a simple picture of two small figures, a boy and an older girl. They were not playing as children usually did in tiles. They were simply walking along, and were like Frans and me whenever we walked together—clearly our father had thought of us as he painted it. The boy was a little ahead of the girl but had turned back to say something. His face was mischievous, his hair messy. The girl wore her cap as I wore mine, not as most other girls did, with the ends tied under their chins or behind their necks.
I favored a white cap that folded in a wide brim around my face, covering my hair completely and hanging down in points on each side of my face so that from the side my expression was hidden. I kept the cap stiff by boiling it with potato peelings.
It was still early—our neighbors were throwing buckets of water onto their steps and the street in front of their houses, and scrubbing them clean. Agnes would do that now, as well as many of my other tasks. She would have less time to play in the street and along the canals.
Her life was changing too. People nodded at me and watched curiously as I passed. No one asked where I was going or called out kind words. They did not need to—they knew what happened to families when a man lost his trade.
It would be something to discuss later—young Griet become a maid, her father brought the family low. They would not gloat, however. The same thing could easily happen to them. I had walked along that street all my life, but had never been so aware that my back was to my home. When I reached the end and turned out of sight of my family, though, it became a little easier to walk steadily and look around me.
The morning was still cool, the sky a flat grey-white pulled close over Delft like a sheet, the summer sun not yet high enough to burn it away. The canal I walked along was a mirror of white light tinged with green. As the sun grew brighter the canal would darken to the color of moss. Frans, Agnes, and I used to sit along that canal and throw things in—pebbles, sticks, once a broken tile—and imagine what they might touch on the bottom—not fish, but creatures from our imagination, with many eyes, scales, hands and fins.
Frans thought up the most interesting monsters. Agnes was the most frightened. I always stopped the game, too inclined to see things as they were to be able to think up things that were not. There were a few boats on the canal, moving towards Market Square. One boat was carrying river fish for the stalls at Jeronymous Bridge. Another sat low on the water, loaded with bricks. The man poling the boat called out a greeting to me. I merely nodded and lowered my head so that the edge of my cap hid my face.
Children ran errands for their parents, apprentices for their masters, maids for their households. Horses and carts clattered across the stones. To my right was the Town Hall, with its gilded front and white marble faces gazing down from the keystones above the windows. To my left was the New Church, where I had been baptized sixteen years before.
Its tall, narrow tower made me think of a stone birdcage. Father had taken us up it once. I asked my father then if every Dutch city looked like that, but he did not know. He had never visited any other city, not even The Hague, two hours away on foot.
I walked to the center of the square. There the stones had been laid to form an eight-pointed star set inside a circle. Each point aimed towards a different part of Delft.
I thought of it as the very center of the town, and as the center of my life. Frans and Agnes and I had played in that star since we were old enough to run to the market. In our favorite game, one of us chose a point and one of us named a thing—a stork, a church, a wheelbarrow, a flower—and we ran in that direction looking for that thing.
We had explored most of Delft that way. One point, however, we had never followed. The house where I was to work was just ten minutes from home, the time it took a pot of water to boil, but I had never passed by it. I knew no Catholics. There were not so many in Delft, and none in our street or in the shops we used. It was not that we avoided them, but they kept to themselves. They were tolerated in Delft, but were expected not to parade their faith openly. They held their services privately, in modest places that did not look like churches from the outside.
My father had worked with Catholics and told me they were no different from us. If anything they were less solemn. They liked to eat and drink and sing and game. He said this almost as if he envied them. I followed that point of the star now, walking across the square more slowly than everyone else, for I was reluctant to leave its familiarity.
I crossed the bridge over the canal and turned left up the Oude Langendijck.
On my left the canal ran parallel to the street, separating it from Market Square. At the intersection with the Molenpoort, four girls were sitting on a bench beside an open door of a house. One of the middle girls held a baby in her lap—a large baby, who was probably already crawling and would soon be ready to walk. Five children, I thought. And another expected.
The oldest was blowing bubbles through a scallop shell fixed to the end of a hollowed stick, very like one my father had made for us. The girl with the baby in her lap could not move much, catching few bubbles although she was seated next to the bubble blower. The youngest at the end was the furthest away and the smallest, and had no chance to reach the bubbles. The second youngest was the quickest, darting after the bubbles and clapping her hands around them.
She had the brightest hair of the four, red like the dry brick wall behind her. I watched the girl with the bright hair swat at the bubbles, popping them just before they broke on the damp grey and white tiles set diagonally in rows before the house.
She will be a handful, I thought. Four sets of eyes stared at me with the same gaze that left no doubt they were sisters.
I could see various features of their parents in them—grey eyes here, light brown eyes there, angular faces, impatient movements. Never call him Jan. And your name? And this is Aleydis. They were both dressed neatly in brown dresses with white aprons and caps. Never call her Maria. Maria Thins. This is her house. Lisbeth joggled him up and down on her knee. I looked up at the house. It was certainly grander than ours, but not as grand as I had feared. It had two stories, plus an attic, whereas ours had only the one, with a tiny attic.
It was an end house, with the Molenpoort running down one side, so that it was a little wider than the other houses in the street. It felt less pressed in than many of the houses in Delft, which were packed together in narrow rows of brick along the canals, their chimneys and stepped roofs reflected in the green canal water.
The ground-floor windows of this house were very high, and on the first floor there were three windows set close together rather than the two of other houses along the street. From the front of the house the New Church tower was visible just across the canal. A strange view for a Catholic family, I thought. A church they will never even go inside.
The woman standing in the doorway had a broad face, pockmarked from an earlier illness. Her nose was bulbous and irregular, and her thick lips were pushed together to form a small mouth. Her eyes were light blue, as if she had caught the sky in them. She wore a grey-brown dress with a white chemise, a cap tied tight around her head, and an apron that was not as clean as mine.
She stood blocking the doorway, so that Maertge and Cornelia had to push their way out round her, and looked at me with crossed arms as if waiting for a challenge. Already she feels threatened by me, I thought. She will bully me if I let her. She moved back into the shadowy interior so that the doorway was clear. I stepped across the threshold. What I always remembered about being in the front hall for the first time were the paintings.
I stopped inside the door, clutching my bundle, and stared. I had seen paintings before, but never so many in one room. I counted eleven. The largest painting was of two men, almost naked, wrestling each other. I did not recognize it as a story from the Bible, and wondered if it was a Catholic subject. Other paintings were of more familiar things—piles of fruit, landscapes, ships on the sea, portraits. They seemed to be by several painters.
None was what I had expected of him. Later I discovered they were all by other painters—he rarely kept his own finished paintings in the house. He was an art dealer as well as an artist, and paintings hung in almost every room, even where I slept. There were more than fifty in all, though the number varied over time as he traded and sold them. I followed as she turned abruptly into a room on the left. On the wall directly opposite hung a painting that was larger than me.
I tried not to stare but I was amazed by its size and subject. But we did not have such pictures in our houses, or our churches, or anywhere. Now I would see this painting every day. I was always to think of that room as the Crucifixion room.
I was never comfortable in it. The painting surprised me so much that I did not notice the woman in the corner until she spoke. Her teeth gripping the stem had gone brown, and her fingers were stained with ink. The rest of her was spotless—her black dress, lace collar, stiff white cap. Though her lined face was stern her light brown eyes seemed amused. She was the kind of old woman who looked as if she would outlive everyone. She had the manner of someone used to looking after those less able than she—of looking after Catharina.
I understood now why I had been brought to her rather than her daughter. Though she seemed to look at me casually, her gaze was watchful. When she narrowed her eyes I realized she knew everything I was thinking. I turned my head so that my cap hid my face. Maria Thins puffed on her pipe and chuckled. You keep your thoughts to yourself here.
Tanneke here will show you round and explain your duties. I heard her chuckling again. Tanneke took me first to the back of the house, where there were cooking and washing kitchens and two storage rooms. The washing kitchen led out to a tiny courtyard full of drying white laundry.
I said nothing, though it looked as if the laundry had not yet been bleached properly by the midday sun. She led me back inside and pointed to a hole in the floor of one of the storage rooms, a ladder leading down into it.
My things thudded onto the dirt floor. I felt like an apple tree losing its fruit. I followed Tanneke back along the hallway, which all the rooms opened off— many more rooms than in our house.
There was other furniture in the room—a large cupboard inlaid with ebony, a whitewood table pushed up to the windows with several Spanish leather chairs arranged around it. But again it was the paintings that struck me. More hung in this room than anywhere else. I counted to nineteen silently. Most were portraits—they appeared to be members of both families.
There was also a painting of the Virgin Mary, and one of the three kings worshipping the Christ Child. I gazed at both uneasily. I climbed as quietly as I could. At the top I looked around and saw the closed door.
Behind it was a silence that I knew was him. I stood, my eyes fixed on the door, not daring to move in case it opened and he came out.
Only I go in there to clean. I would struggle to catch up. The cooking and cleaning and washing for the house? That will be another of your duties. Including me, there were ten of us now in the house, one a baby who would dirty more clothes than the rest.
But I was new and I was young—it was to be expected I would have the hardest tasks. The laundry needed to soak for a day before I could wash it. In the storage room that led down to the cellar I found two pewter waterpots and a copper kettle. I took the pots with me and walked up the long hallway to the front door.
The girls were sitting on the bench. Now Lisbeth had the bubble blower while Maertge fed baby Johannes bread softened with milk. Cornelia and Aleydis were chasing bubbles. When I appeared they all stopped what they were doing and looked at me expectantly. There were long scratches up and down her arm—she must have been bothering the house cat. When no one followed her she came back out, her face cross. Her eyes were like two shiny grey coins.
We crossed the street, Cornelia and Lisbeth following. Aleydis led me to stairs that descended to the water. As we peeked over I tightened my grip on her hand, as I had done years before with Frans and Agnes whenever we stood next to water.
Aleydis obediently took a step back. But Cornelia followed close behind me as I carried the pots down the steps. If not, go back up to your sisters. If she had sulked or shouted, I would know I had mastered her. Instead she laughed. I reached over and slapped her.
Her face turned red, but she did not cry. She ran back up the steps. Aleydis and Lisbeth peered down at me solemnly. I had a feeling then. This is how it will be with her mother, I thought, except that I will not be able to slap her. I filled the pots and carried them to the top of the steps.
Cornelia had disappeared. Maertge was still sitting with Johannes. I took one of the pots inside and back to the cooking kitchen, where I built up the fire, filled the copper kettle, and put it on to heat. When I came back Cornelia was outside again, her face still flushed. The girls were playing with tops on the grey and white tiles. None of them looked up at me. The pot I had left was missing. I looked into the canal and saw it floating, upside down, just out of reach of the stairs.
I looked around for a stick to fish it out with but could find none. I filled the other pot again and carried it inside, turning my head so that the girls could not see my face.
I set the pot next to the kettle on the fire. Then I went outside again, this time with a broom. Cornelia was throwing stones at the pot, probably hoping to sink it.
She dropped the stones she held. I recognized the man poling from earlier that day—he had delivered his load of bricks and the boat was riding much higher. He grinned when he saw me. I blushed. I swallowed. I ran down the steps and took it from him. No kiss? I jerked my arm away and wrestled the pot from him. I was never good at that sort of talk. He laughed. As I climbed the steps back to the street I thought I saw a movement in the middle window on the first floor, the room where he was.
I stared but could see nothing except the reflected sky. Catharina returned while I was taking down laundry in the courtyard. I first heard her keys jangling in the hallway. They hung in a great bunch just below her waist, bouncing against her hip.
Although they looked uncomfortable to me, she wore them with great pride. I then heard her in the cooking kitchen, giving orders to Tanneke and the boy who had carried things from the shops for her. She spoke harshly to both. I continued to pull down and fold bedsheets, napkins, pillowcases, tablecloths, shirts, chemises, aprons, handkerchiefs, collars, caps.
And they had not been shaken first, so there were creases everywhere. I would be ironing much of the day to make them presentable. Catharina appeared at the door, looking hot and tired, though the sun was not yet at its highest. Her chemise puffed out messily from the top of her blue dress, and the green housecoat she wore over it was already crumpled. Her blond hair was frizzier than ever, especially as she wore no cap to smooth it. The curls fought against the combs that held them in a bun.
She looked as if she needed to sit quietly for a moment by the canal, where the sight of the water might calm and cool her. I was not sure how I should be with her—I had never been a maid, nor had we ever had one in our house. There were no servants on our street. No one could afford one. I placed the laundry I was folding in a basket, then nodded at her.
I would have to take more care with her. Tanneke had probably been trained by Maria Thins and still followed her orders, whatever Catharina said to her. I would have to help her without seeming to. Catharina brightened. She will take you when you finish with the washing here.
After that you will go every day yourself. Early—first thing in the morning. After I brought in the laundry I found the iron, cleaned it, and set it in the fire to heat. I had just begun ironing when Tanneke came and handed me a shopping pail. Out in front Catharina sat on the bench, with Lisbeth on a stool by her feet and Johannes asleep in a cradle.
Next to her Cornelia and Aleydis were sewing. Tableaux vivants: The characters reproduce a painting or a historical scene presented by the narrator. Aesthetic or Artistic Arrangement: This arrangement favors the reflexive effect. Pictorial Description: A description is like an expansion of the narrative. These categories are in accordance with recurrent patterns I identified among the ways the characters describe the paintings.
The female protagonist, Griet, describes some works to her blind father, a great admirer of the master. I chose to use two examples 16 Scripta Uniandrade, v. The first ekphrastic moment, the painting A View of Delft see Fig. The father is telling her who Vermeer is by recalling one of his famous paintings they had seen together: With the sky that took up so much of the painting, and sunlight on some of the buildings. Mauritshuis, The Hague; rpt.
Essential Vermeer. Available at: Access in: Pieter makes the rumors about the maid clear to Griet while verbally describing the scene: It was several years ago now. It seems van Ruijven wanted one of his kitchen maids to sit for a painting with him. Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick. There are several long dialogues between Griet and her master, most of them are also discussed throughout the painting execution in the following section. Van Ruijven is against an audience but likes the idea and shows his interest in being in the painting with Griet.
After all, she is aware of how interested the patron is in Griet and how much money he could be willing to spend on her. However, later on Maria Thins agrees with Vermeer that Griet should not be in the group scene, because she wants to avoid problems with her daughter, Catharina Bolnes, who is pregnant and could not bear the idea of the maid modeling for her husband.
Van Ruijven insists that he wants his wide-eyed maid even if it cannot be in flesh but rather on a piece of canvas for him to admire her beauty.
They all agree to keep it a secret in order to protect Catharina from her self-destructive jealousy. Van Ruijven, his wife and daughter end up sitting together in the group scene: The final result of the commission negotiation is the portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Griet also describes the setting for the painting when she finds herself in the picture scene before modeling for Vermeer. As I waited I studied the paintings he had hung on the back wall that would form part of the concert painting. There was a landscape on the left, and on the right a picture of three people — a woman playing a lute, wearing a dress that revealed much of her bosom, a gentleman with his arm around her, and an old woman.
The Royal Collection, Buckingham Palace. Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston stolen. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Since the Vermeers are Catholic and Griet is Protestant, it is difficult for her to understand and accept their worship of religious images. The most elaborate ekphrastic description, the portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring see Fig.
The whole plot conspires in favor of this moment. Nevertheless, this description is different from all the others. Many of the ekphrastic descriptions studied here are interwoven with this one. The reader not only identifies the portrait but also easily visualizes it in the novel.
Griet, though relieved and excited, is aware of the drawbacks her proximity to Vermeer might bring her. According to the novel, they start the project on the first day of the year.
Vermeer asks Griet to read a letter. She considers telling him that the paper is blank, but chooses to stay quiet. He suggests a book, but concludes that the problem is in her clothes. She suggests that he paint her as a maid but he refuses: I was puzzled — we never sat together. I shivered, although I was not cold. I gazed at the New Church tower and swallowed. I could feel my jaw tightening and my eyes widening.
He asks her to sit still. She realizes that she is actually being painted by Vermeer. Only a month later did they continue the modeling. The painter and the model negotiate the composition of the portrait: Griet, the fictional model, was highly aware of it the whole time; she knows that what really matters to him is the final result as requested by his patron.
The girl is important only as his muse and not as a woman. While she does not fight her feelings towards the painter, Griet follows the natural course of her life outside of the studio, as evidenced in the excerpt below: He looked at me as if he were not seeing me, but someone else, or something else — as if he were looking at a painting.
He is looking at the light that falls on my face, I thought, not at my face itself.
That is the difference. It was almost as if I were not there. Once I felt this I was able to relax a little. As he was not seeing me, I did not see him. My mind began to wander — over the jugged hare we had eaten for dinner, the lace collar Lisbeth had given me, a story Pieter the son had told me the day before. After that I thought of nothing. She continues the description: The painting was like none of his others. It was just of me, of my head and shoulders, with no tables or curtains, no windows or powder-brushes to soften and distract.
He had painted me with my eyes wide, the light falling across my face but the left side of me in shadow. I was wearing blue and yellow and brown. The cloth wound round my head made me look not like myself, but like Griet from another town, even from another country altogether. The background was black, making me appear very much alone, although I was clearly looking at someone. Orchestrated by Maria Thins, Vermeer's shrewd, business-oriented mother-in-law, the project proceeds secretively in order to enable Vermeer to avoid the jealous objection of his wife.
The plot reaches its climax when an outraged Catharina demands to see the finished painting, in which Griet is depicted wearing Catharina's pearl earring. Vermeer is quick to protect his work from his wife's rage, but he remains silent and impassive as Catharina dismisses the young woman who served as its inspiration. The novel extends this plotline to a more conclusive resolution in which Griet, whose impoverished [End Page 52] family depends on her wages, accepts a marriage proposal from her social peer, the butcher's son, thus securing her and her family's financial future.
The events of the narrative portray Griet, the girl with the pearl earring, as a strong and thoughtful woman whose common sense reins in her furtive passions. She is aware of the forces working against her—poverty, lack of education, low social status, femininity—and finally succeeds in reaching the highest level of autonomy within her limited possibilities.
Through this plotline, the author constructs a character and a personality for the image that has fascinated so many observers.