In the novel Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Griet faces many challenges which causes her identity to change. Though Griet starts out as an innocent maid who has to follow orders, she starts developing her own opinion and the ability to make decisions. Griet changes from an household servant to having the courage to share her opinion to a mature lady, capable of making her own decisions. Many factors contribute to the change in Griet’s identity, but the main factor is Vermeer, her master.
At first, Griet is viewed as an innocent girl, who is compelled to work as an maid due to her father’s incapability to provide for her family. She does not want to leave her family and go to an unknown place, but she has to; in order to fulfill her family’s needs’. This is evident when Griet says to her sister, Agnes, “ ‘You know I don’t want to leave. I have to’”(7).
When she arrives at the Vermeer household, she is viewed as a helper with the household chores, and a girl who must follow her master’s orders’. Later on, she starts to consider the Vermeer household as her own family. ’I have two families now, and they must not mix’”(53).
This quote demonstrates the fact that Griet is adapting to her environment, and that she has started considering them as her family. This illustrates a change in her identity, as she has changed from a compelled and scared young girl to a maid, capable of adapting to a new environment. Throughout the course of the novel, Griet starts developing her own opinion along with the courage to speak her opinion. At first, she just went along with what she was told: “ ‘But he was my master. I was meant to so as he said’”(57).
This demonstrates the fact that Griet completes tasks without thinking. Even if she wants to say something, she doesn’t, because she gives her opinion no importance. Griet always had the ability to recognize Vermeer’s paintings’ strengths and weaknesses, but she didn’t have the courage to say it. This changes, due to Vermeer, who forces Griet to give her opinion. “ ‘It is a better painting now’”(64). This supports Griet’s change in identity, form being too scared to speaking her mind to having the courage to give her opinion to her master.
Near the end, Griet’s identity has gone through the process of a young maid to a mature lady. At first, Griet’s opinion held no importance. She does not have a say in anything. This is evident when she says, “ ‘ What would I think, madam? ’”(157). Griet has certainly developed an opinion, but not the courage to speak it in front of others. She is aware of her status as a maid. This changes throughout the course of the novel. Griet does develop the courage to take the decision of her life as well as carry it out. “ ‘I did not pick up the knife.
I turned and walked from the room’”(215). This quote illustrates Griet’s ability to make and carry out decisions. She is not going to tolerate any wrong accusations, and she has learned to take a stand for herself. This change occurs due to Vermeer and his art. Somewhere in between, Griet realizes that she has had enough, and she’s not going to let anyone come and accuse her of doing something she didn’t do. Vermeer and his paintings made Griet feel that she does hold importance, and no one has the right to accuse her wrongfully.
Therefore, Griet’s identity undergoes a lot of changes throughout the novel. First, she is maid who is duty- bound to work in an unknown place due to her family’s needs’. As the book continues, she starts developing her opinion as well as the ability to say it. In the end, she is a mature lady with the capability to decide for herself. All of the changes are due to Vermeer. He was the one who accepted her and allowed her to give her opinion, and he was also the one who rejected her by silently standing there while Griet was being wrongfully accused.