Before Britains acquired it at the siege
of Seringapatam in 1799, the "stone" has already passed through the hands of a number vain conquerors
. The Moonstone
(*) is the sacre
d object into a symbol
of wealth and power
that no mere mortal should possess, but which, despite its curse, immoral warrior
s of various nations have sought to acquire. In fact, owning what no one should possess merely adds to the Moonstone's allure.
The connection of the properties of the Moonstone to "ancient Greece and Rome" is the first indication that India is not a barbarous and backward series of petty principalities but an ancient civilisation.
risked their immortal soul
s by masquerading as members of a lower caste
s and musicians) in order to retrieve the gem, dedicating their lives to the service of their god
. The Moonstone brings out the worst in the worldlings the seek to appropriate it: it brings out the hypocrisy of the outwardly charitable, pious, and selfsufficiency of Britains, who were unmasked in death as a "Whited Sepulchre
(*)(Moonstone, a novel by Wilkie Collins)