Wealth in Jane Eyre and Great Expectations Essay

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To many material wealth is the epitome of mankind’s earthly desires. With wealth comes money, possessions, a promise of freedom from social constraints and the ability to pursue your dreams. However, the influence it has on a person’s character can be a stark reminder of what the misuse of wealth can ultimately lead to. In both Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte the corrupting nature of monetary wealth is displayed through the lives of multiple characters. It is easy to see that a preoccupation with money blinds people to the prosperity that stands before them and can lead them down roads that end with nothing more than loneliness, misery or even death.

When people are motivated solely based on the prospects on money alone they are often prepared to take drastic measures to achieve their goals. In Great Expectations the greatest example of a character willing to take these measures is Compeyson. He holds no regard for Miss Havisham’s feelings whatsoever. Her money is his primary objective and he will stop at nothing to get it. When Pip learns of this he remarks, “I wonder he didn’t marry her and get all the property.”(Dickens 191). Compeyson walked away from the opportunity of not only being included in Miss Havisham’s fortune, but also from owning land and being married to a woman who was of a higher social class than himself. Other than the money itself he gained nothing from this scam. His continuous pursuit of money and his fraudulent ways left him with nothing more than a prison sentence.

An obvious parallel of Compeyson in Jane Eyre is Blanche Ingram. Blanche is another example of a person who is pursuing nothing more than money. She is living a selfish life hoping t...

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...f that money is what defines his character is what leads him astray. The only place it leads him to was absolute misery.

As demonstrated in these two classic fictional works a fixation with money, possessions or wealth is a dangerous obsession to have. Not one character in either of these books benefits from their misguided pursuit of wealth. The only character that did not allow money to corrupt, and ultimately devastate them, was Jane. Her acceptance of her earthly place and belongings prevented her from being consumed by her desires; never allowing herself to succumb to the corrupting nature of monetary wealth.

Works Cited

Bronte, Charlotte. "Jane Eyre." Reader's Digest Best Loved Books for Young Readers. Pleasantville, NY.: Reader's Digest Association, 1966. 133-394. Print.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Bantam Books, 1986. Print.

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