Themes and message



The short story is clearly focused on the importance of wealth in Victorian England. The title and the opening sentence draw attention to this point: “Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow.” (p. 99, l. 1)

However, wealth seems to be important for men and not necessarily for women. In the narrative, we see the protagonist has failed to adapt to a materialistic, mercantile society and, as a result, he cannot marry the woman he loves: “Ultimately he became nothing, a delightful, ineffectual young man with a perfect profile and no profession.” (p. 99, ll. 18-19)

The theme is further enhanced through the characters of Alan Trevor and Baron Hausberg. Alan illustrates the way even art is subject to materialism. He does not paint only for the sake of art, but also to make a living: “'Guineas. Painters, poets, and physicians always get guineas.'” (p. 101, l. 38)

The baron is the embodiment of absolute wealth. He can dispose of money as he pleases: “He could buy all London tomorrow without overdrawing his account. He has a house in every capital, dines off gold plate, and can prevent Russia going to war when he chooses.'” (p. 102, ll. 43-45)

As you can see, this ...

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