The Girl with the Pearl Earring
Griet: Griet is a protestant girl from Holland who goes to work as a maid in Vermeer's home after her father has an accident that leaves him blind. She is a young girl with fair skin and blonde hair. She wears the clothes of a servant. She is working to help her family, therefore, is not as submissive as the other servants around her.
Vermeer: Johannes Vermeer is a respected artist in Holland. Known for his perfectionism, he often takes months to complete a painting. In the movie, he is often seen wearing black clothes and a black hat. He has long hair, a common style of the time. Vermeer seems somewhat torn over his lifestyle, and often does things alone. He died at the age of 43.
Catharina: Catharina is the wife of Johannes Vermeer. She is a Catholic and a member of the middle class. At the time of Vermeer's death, she had given birth to 11 children. The movie portrays her as a mean and jealous woman, always suspicious of Johannes' motives with other women.
Maria Thins: Maria is Catharina's mother-in-law. She owns the home that Vermeer, his wife, and all the children live in. She is trying to keep the ever-growing family afloat by keeping Vermeer's patrons happy. She sees that Vermeer is attracted to Griet, and allows them to be around each other so Vermeer can paint. The movie portrays her as a woman who will do what it takes to keep the family in the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to.
Vermeer's catholic / artist middle class household is seen as somewhat extravagant with multiple rooms, a servant's quarters, a lot of art and ornamentation, and a large studio that Vermeer paints in. In contrast, Griet's small family home appears to be very quiet, with small rooms and little to no ornamentation. It appears that all the furniture in Griet's home is made of wood, as opposed to the fabrics and metals seen in the home of Vermeer.
Many scenes show the opposite lifestyles the different families led. In the market, we see Griet inspect the meat she buys, knowing the family is discerning. Being that the meat is for a well to do family, the butcher obliges. At the family celebration, we see an extravagant feast, with the full settings on the table. A large meal is served with many people attending. When Griet goes to the pub, we see the common' people, the workers and servants of the town drinking and dancing, while Vermeer's family spends each evening quietly listening to music. In one scene, we see Vermeer's next door neighbors being evicted from their home. All their belongings are thrown into the street, and it appears people are even getting arrested.
Griet takes almost an artist's approach to food preparation. When at the butcher, she knows to only purchase the finest meats available. In the beginning of the film, she arranges the vegetables in a visual manner, stating "they should be that way". The feast included meats such as lamb, veal, tongue, a whole pig, oysters, lobsters, caviar, herring, pheasant, and hare. Sweet wines and fruits were also included.
Griet was also charged with cleaning Vermeer's studio. The first time she entered the studio, she was awestruck by all the materials there. She also specifically asks about cleaning the windows, knowing it will affect the lighting. When Vermeer has her purchase supplies for him to make paints with, she is intrigued with the process. She goes to the apothecary to purchase raw supplies, and also to the butcher to purchase a pig's bladder, where the more vibrant colors are kept.
In the text, Vermeer takes her out and asks her to analyze the clouds, noticing how the different colors make the cloud. He points out that there is very little pure white in clouds. This same method went into his paintings, using colors that would not seem to be intended to get the desired outcome of color. Vermeer makes this an issue, with stating to Griet that he...
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