• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Art
  • Word count: 4532

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Extracts from this document...


Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier Tracy Chevalier is unusual in having taken a specific painting and created a construction round it. How does she build a convincing impression of the characters and their circumstances in this unusual household on Papists Corner in Delft between 1664-1676? Tracy Chevalier is unusual at having taken a painting, a Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and assembled her story around it. Tracy Chevalier's construction is about a young girl, Griet. Who has to become a maid, due to her family's circumstances, to the painter Johannes Vermeer. Part of her job is to clean the painter's studio without moving anything, as she has been doing for her blind father. But she finds herself falling in love with Vermeer while being courted by the butcher's son, Pieter. Her hard life as a maid then comes to an end when she is painted, by her master for an art tradesman, van Ruijven. In an interview in 2001 Chevalier said, 'I have always loved this painting, I was attracted to the ambiguity of expression.' She uses this ambiguity to create a convincing but unusual novel based on an unusual painting. The attraction of this ambiguity to the novelist is that she has a lot of freedom within which to write her story and to make it attractive to the 21st century reader. Tracy Chevalier uses the other Vermeer paintings and the limited biographical information about his life to create a picture of 17th century life which is appealing to her 21st century audience. She has a problem because the details of a 17th century life may not be so appealing to a 21st century audience; we do not have the same situations as described in the book. So she may have adapted them to make the characters more interesting for her 21st century readers. Chevalier is dealing with situations alien to her audience, for example, the majority of the population today do not have such a prominent head of a family or such big families. ...read more.


She is a perfectionist; this shows when she comments on the untidiness of Catherina, 'The woman looked as if she had been blown about by the wind, although it was a calm day.' Also her artistic eye, makes her move the cloth even with the risk of losing her job when any other time she would have done anything to avoid becoming redundant, but she feels she has to do it for the painting, 'Yes, I thought, and pressed my lips together. He may send me away for changing it, but it is better now.' She wants to be independent and that may be the reason she does not want to marry Pieter. She does not want to be an object transferred from her father to Pieter, which is unlike any situation we have today, but we can still sympathise with her as the book is well written. Nothing is hers, not even the painting she is sitting for is hers, 'It is not for me to say, sir. It is not my painting.' He frowned. 'No, it is not yours. He sounded as if he was speaking to himself.' Griet is very tactful, which is useful in the house where she works and lives, as Catherina, Maria Thins (Vermeer's mother-in-law) and Tanneke quickly are upset and there is great need to be tactful. An example of this is when Griet first comes to the house and she finds out Tanneke has been doing all the work herself, 'Tanneke, have you been doing all this yourself?' I had chosen the right words. 'And some of the shopping.' Tanneke puffed up with pride at her own industry.' Griet uses similes, which tells us exactly how she feels, and also shows us Griet thinks in image-based way, like an artist. Griet is very family orientated, as would have been the case of a young girl in the 1600's. ...read more.


This might not have been true in the 17th century but it is how modern children behave. The sexual tension between the powerless Griet and the very powerful Van Ruijven is significant since Griet has to endure it and has no one to help her, as she would today. Also when Van Ruijven realises that Griet in not interested in him, he goes around hinting to Catherina about the painting that he has made Griet sit for and working on Catherina's jealousy. 'I don't know about that.' Van Ruijven worked so hard to sound sly even Catherina could not miss the hint.' The way Griet feels about Van Ruijven, her anxiety, anger and powerlessness make us feel it too and adds to our sympathy. We can understand van Ruijven because he processes many of the same characteristics of a modern day baddie. Art is the focus of the novel. The lives of all the characters in the novel are corrupted by Art and revolve around it. Griet and Vermeer both put Art above everything else, for example, when Vermeer makes Griet wear Catherina's pearl earring knowing that it will be the ruin of Griet but not caring about that, only about what will make the painting look good. The main reason for all the tension is the eyes of everyone in the house, always watching, always judging, coming out of the shadows and just around the corner. The claustrophobia draws us into the novel and involves the reader. Griet has to be on guard all the time, adding to the uneasy feeling of the house. Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring is a very convincing novel, based on the believable setting of Delft and the book's strong characters. She has obviously studied Vermeer's paintings in depth and the historical information on the period and produced an entertaining and believable piece of literature. The tension of the Catholic household and the claustrophobia within Delft society draw us into this 17th/21st century novel and keep us persuaded of the novel's realism. Kate Addis Girl With A Pearl Earring 01/05/2007 UC4V ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Art section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Art essays

  1. Vincent van Gogh

    These tall steeples which are common in the plains of the north, but are rarely seen in the Mediterranean landscape. This led many people to believe that Vincent was growing nostalgic for his homeland. Notice in the background, there is a moon/sun combined object in the right top corner?

  2. Jekyll and Hyde double personality

    Satan existed and is always associated all evil things, doings and characters. Most gothic beasts for example, Dracula, Frankenstein or Mr Hyde usually have meaning to their names which is either associated with evil, death, blood or the devil himself.

  1. To what extent do you sympathise the character of George

    Probably yes. If there is only George himself, he can handle the work easily with his wits, and just like he says "Live so esay, without you on my tail". But he also says "You get used to to gain around with a guy and you can't get rid of him".

  2. How does the Steinbeck present Lennie as a sympathetic character

    So what's the problem. The problem is that Steinbeck brings these three elements together in Lennie. People usually say kindness brings bless, but here, comes a contrast: the good and kind Lennie with a soft heart does everything wrong unconciously, and gets nothing but a doomed fate.

  1. Anna Frank, and the Frank Family.

    Se llama Peter Van Pels. Es un chico dos a�os mayor que Ana. Por lo tanto, cuando empieza el diario tiene 15 a�os y cuando acaba 17. Es "..., un muchacho desgarbado, bastante soso y t�mido que no ha cumplido los 16 a�os, y de cuya compa��a no cabe esperar gran cosa."

  2. Frontline uses the relationship between physical setting and dance content to great effect; compare ...

    But there are props used which play an important part in this dance to help show the relationships. The most important prop would probably be the chair, because it is a great significant to the victim and his ever changing relationship, this reflects the state of mind what he is thinking.

  1. Describe somewhere so that what you saw or felt at the time is communicated ...

    Well the sky had certainly turned inky, but there was no freshness. It was weird. It was then that we noticed that what we had thought was a grey cloud was moving and swirling a whole lot more quickly than any cloud we had ever seen move before.

  2. My name is Sarah..... I am but three, My eyes are swollen I cannot ...

    If these walls could talk. If these walls could talk, you'd know about my fears, about all those nights I screamed for help, about all my fallen tears. You'd know about the demons haunting me at night, you'd be able to help me keep my fire alight, if these walls could talk.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work