What are the themes that are in Girl With A Pearl Earring?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clearly, one of the central themes of this excellent novel is the way in which characters are trapped by their social positions and the restrictions placed on them by society and a moral and legal system that prevents them from attaining freedom in its truest sense. The most obvious example of this is Griet herself, the protagonist of the novel. Note the way that she is forced to work at the Vermeer household because of the poverty of her family and the way that she must work to support both herself and her family. In the same way, however, Vermeer, it is shown, is trapped in a marriage where there is little love lost between himself and his wife, and he is prevented from pursuing his interest in Griet. His wife, too, is trapped in a social position that means she has a reputation and a standard to keep up, and where she is bitterly afraid and envious of the attraction felt between her husband and Griet. Pieter too is trapped in the sense that he identifies the attraction between Vermeer and Griet, and even though he loves Griet, he is powerless because of his social position to attack Vermeer or act to prevent him from pursuing his relationship with Griet. Every character to a greater or lesser extent is therefore bound by social position and the various restrictions that are placed on them through poverty or stature. Chevalier's achievement in this novel, as she does in all of her work, is to create and bring to life a very different world for us with the same sure strokes that Vermeer himself uses to vividly paint Griet.

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Girl With a Pearl Earring

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