The mentality described above is the basis of belief for most of the characters in the novel. The ultimate judge of man was not his actions but the success of whatever actions he decided to take. This mentality that pervaded 1870s Victorian society rewarded evil men and elevated them. Money was the driving force and anything was accepted in order to enjoy it in one's grasp. In TWWLN, greed is the chief vice and Trollope shows through three main character (Felix, Nidderdale, and Melmotte) that each is esteemed in accord with the scheme in which he is involved.
For Felix, the scheme is marrying Marie Melmotte, though he does not love her. To him,as he tells his mother, it is nothing more than a game, like that he plays at the Beargarden Club:
Though much dismayed at Miles' cheating at cards, Felix has no qualms about marrying Marie for money, quite a hypocritical stance considering she truly loves him. Both Felix and his mother fret over the possibility that Melmotte will deny Felix and Marie his money if they elope, though both seem assured that his anger will abate:
Felix expresses confidence and plans to take her to New York after Marie confides that her father has settled money on her, though Melmotte assumes her to be unaware of this money:
Though everyone except Marie seems to know that Felix is marrying her for her money, most do not look down on Felix until the actual scheme fails. Only then is Felix embarassed to show himself in public.
Lord Nidderdale abandons his scheme when success looks unlikely. Though he is the Melmotte's accepted lover of Marie, he is rejected by the latter who has no interest in the lord. Melmotte's interest is strictly financial, as Nidderdale has a title and a settled property (Ch. 37). The proposed marriage has been delayed due to Melmotte's inability to secure the amount of money required by the Nidderdales.
The young lord does not love Marie, and she has no interest in marrying him. Even after her unsuccessful attempt to run away with Felix, Nidderdale still considers marrying her because "After all, it's only an affair of money" (Ch. 53). His other concern is that he will be considered a success as the acknowledged lover of Marie.
Melmotte's chief concern is his elevation in society. He believes it is fine to cheat people and float mythical shares in order to achieve his goals. He will marry his daughter to a man she does not love because it is his own happiness that he is most concerned about. He agrees to deals that he cannot fulfill (Pickering property) because he believes he will get away with it. Nevertheless, despite knowing that he is despiccable and dishonest, everyone seeks to be connected with him because he is apparently wealthy and successful, eventually winning a seat in Parliament. However, people begin to distance themselves once it became apparent that he would face consequences for his actions. When judged unsuccessful, men no longer wanted to be connected to him.
Honor played no role in the actions of the men above because society did not value it. Ultimately, each was judged by the success of the scheme he envisions. Once his scheme proves unsuccessful will he be looked down upon by society.