The Complexity of Relationships

Topics: Painting, Johannes Vermeer, Interpersonal relationship Pages: 3 (1138 words) Published: January 11, 2011
What happens when a servant and a master form a secret relationship? Not in the way one would think of but a person who forms a close relationship with their master than necessary are usually looked down upon. Girl with a Pearl Earring talks about the experiences and the relationship Griet forms working for Johannes Vermeer a Dutch painter. From the outside, their relationship looks just like any other servant and master relationship. Looking closer one can see the friendship formed between them. Though it is good that a master and servant have mutual respect for each other, but the problems arise when feelings for the person comes into play. Griet crosses some boundaries when she starts to feel a romantic attraction for Johannes her master. The result can only be heartbreak for a servant who is foolish enough to seek equality with her master. The novel takes place in 1664 Holland where society like any other is based on ones status. Johannes Vermeer is a painter whose income is based on the number of paintings he is commissioned to paint and others that he is able to sell. He does not usually paint more than 3 paintings a year, so Johannes is not wealthy. He also has to support a mother, wife, five children and pay for a maid. Even with his economic situation, he goes out to find and additional servant to clean his studio. This is where Griet comes into the picture. Griet is hired to clean Johannes’s studio but his wife Catharina is not fond of Griet. Griet is aware of her precarious position and states, “It had been clear from the moment she’d seen me chopping vegetables in my mother’s kitchen that she disliked me.” (Chevalier, p.49) Catharina cannot express her opinion or dislike of Griet because she is not making money for the family and is not in charge of making decisions for the family. She can only obey Johannes’s command. Catharina can not afford to make her husband angry as he is the only thing she has. The funny thing is, even Catharina is not allowed...
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