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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unwillingness to Work in TWWLN

The financial corruption of Melmotte is a large scale example of the corruption present throughout the novel.  One major source of the corruption is the unwillingness to work of members of the English gentry living in London.  They are young men who inherited their titles and are unmotivated  develop a trade.  The common thread is that their families have encountered financial troubles and the wealth that once existed has diminished.  Therefore, they all look for ways to connect themselves to Melmotte in order to obtain riches. 

Sir Felix Carbury inherited his baronetcy from his father, who left him £1000 a year,, but Felix has squandered his money as well as his mother's mostly through gambling at the Beargarden club.  He has huge debts, but even when he wins at cards, "He never for a moment thought of paying his bills" (Ch. 3).  Felix feels no remorse in bankrupting his familyy, having been doted on since biirth.  He serves on the Board of Melmotte's railway venture and tries to connect himself to Melmotte through a half-hearted romance with Melmotte's only daughter Marie.  Though not in love with Marie, he, prompted by his mother's insistence, attaches himself to Marie while also carrying on a different affair with Ruby Ruggles, though he does no actual work.  Felix has never had to work fr anything. 

Miles Grendall is similar to Feliz.  The son of a lord, he too gambles at the Beargarden but cheats while playing, though no one confronts him about it.  His father is in straits and performs menial tasks for Melmotte in exchange for money.  Miles is considered overpaid for his work as secretary for the railway Board of Directors. 

Dolly Longestaffe is another young man whose family has encountered financial troubles and who goes to Melmotte for help, eventually giving up a London property to move into the countryside.  Mr. Longestaffe also sells an estate to Melmotte, though the latter never pays for it.  Dolly joins the others at the Beargarden to gamble.  He constantly quarrels with his father, particularly when it comes to the sale of the Pickering estate.  Dolly manages to engineer Melmotte's downfall when he contends that he never signed documents authorizing Melmotte to sell Pickering.  As Melmotte's forgery becomes increasingly apparent, Melmotte realizes that he is caught and end it all with suicide.  Dolly's main concern is having enough money to gamble with, so it is actually his greed which leads to Melmotte's downfall.

The  above engraving is The Road to Ruin College (1878) by William Powell Frith.

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