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Girl With a Pearl Earring - article

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Girl with a Pearl Earring: Is it really relevant for today's students? It is widely believed that Tracy Chevalier's, Girl with a Pearl Earring, is a timeless, and beautifully written novel for all with an appreciation for fine storytelling and artistic literature. Hence the novel is commonly used as a part of high school curriculums around the world. However, is a story that was set under circumstances three hundred and forty years ago really relevant for the youth of today? In particular, young women who are coming of age in a society very different from the one Girl with a Pearl Earring was set in. The main character of the novel, Griet, goes through some significant changes throughout the story, as she is sent to work as a maid for the artist, Johannes Vermeer, after her father is blinded and can no longer support the family. She encounters many new situations and feelings as she comes of age whilst working in the Vermeer household over a two year period. ...read more.


In the modern world, it is prestigious assets such as expensive cars, lavish homes, jewelry and label name clothing which often define a person's place in society. Griet felt inferior when communicating with her mistress because she did not belong to the same social class, and was considered to be beneath them. Today, this segregation of classes is still very much apparent. People of the lower classes may still feel the same way when encountering the home of a wealthy person and this especially includes young women as they can be already insecure about themselves. Nowadays people of lower socioeconomic classes can have much of the same opportunities as wealthy people can with the availability of a universal public schooling system. This gives opportunity for people from lower classes to achieve positions of greater status in contemporary society. Throughout the story, Griet feels pressure from many people to make certain choices with her life. Her parents pressure her to marry Pieter, the butcher's son, so that their family can have meat and be financially cared for. ...read more.


However, there is a subtle symbolism in Chevalier's writing that carries through most of the text that is quite mature and may not be able to be seen by more immature students. This is apparent in the scene where Vermeer pierces Griet's ear, and sees her with her head uncovered. This is a very sexual image and therefore represents the attraction and tension between Griet and her master. As this scene represents something much greater then the obvious, it is a concern whether a young audience will be able to understand and appreciate the techniques used and the hidden content behind the text. However, Chevalier's novel is able to be compared and contrasted with modern society and culture, which makes it a worthwhile and educational read for young students today. It is important for today's youth to appreciate the past in order to appreciate the present; therefore Girl with a Pearl Earring should still exist within the senior school curriculum as a valued and respected novel. ?? ?? ?? ?? Hayley Radford (12.30) 2010 Word Count: 967 ...read more.

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