How Far Will People Go For Money?

In The Wings of a Dove, the topic of money and its power over humanity arises time and time again. How far will someone go for money? In the case of The Wings of the Dove we see that people will sell their friends, their boyfriend and even their own daughters to make a buck. I found this quality about Kate extremely disturbing in the book and this made it hard to sympathize with her character; however, the movie helped me to see where Kate was coming from. At 16:20 Kate has recently learned that her Aunt Maud disapproves of the one she loves and she has been forbidden to converse with Lionel. It is at this point in the movie we witness Kate curled up in a fetal position on her bed, releasing meek cries of despair.

It is at this time that we can see how desperately Kate wants to escape her situation, the same way her father and her sister desperately want to escape their own situation and poverty due to the meager amounts allocated to them from their mother’s will. Lionel, Kate and Kate’s father are all in the same boat- they do not have any money, this causes them to act desperately and to look inwardly which forces them to use things and people to make ends. In the book we hardly hear Kate’s father speak about anyone expect himself:

“To put it to your conscience that you’ve an admirable opportunity; and that it’s moreover one for which, after all, damn you, you’ve really to thank ME.”  (James 6)

“It’s just your honour that I appeal to. The only way to play the game IS to play it. There’s

no limit to what your aunt can do for you.” (James 7)

We see that most of the statements that Lionel makes in the book correlate directly with himself. How can he get what he wants? How can he win?

Kate’s father is always using words such as, “what your aunt can do for you,” “you should be thanking me,” he is constantly thinking how he can win at the expense of others, this attitude may have rubbed off on Kate as well. In many books, money is described as the root of all evil –  another book says that the love of money brings a snare to all men. The Wings of a Dove epitomizes those statements as we see Kate’s father sells his daughter to Aunt Maud, and Kate sellsout her best friend Milly, to gain monetary pleasures. Kate could have run away with Lionel at the beginning of the novel, but she did not because of money. Aunt Maud could have blessed the union between Kate and Lionel, but she did not because of money. Money, money, money. Kate could have even asked Milly to sponsor her and Lionel, but she did not and why this is, is open to interpretation. At the beginning of the novel, would Kate have been happy with some of Milly’s money – enough to live comfortably? Or did she want all of it? This novel certainly brings up the sad question: How far will people go for money, and the answer is far indeed.


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2 thoughts on “How Far Will People Go For Money?

  1. Secrets bring such a seductive allure to any relationship. You never know what could change, except that the results would be exponential if revealed at the right (or wrong) moment. It’s what makes stories fun and challenges characters to truly prioritize what’s important to them. While money is a filthy attribute and taints such intricate drama in any relationship as the purpose of it is pretty straight – forward, especially since it’s associated with greed and power, but never guarantees satisfaction of the heart and soul. I believe, especially from the movie’s portrayal of it, the father has been so abused and reduced by life that he finds money as a synonym for opportunity. Which isn’t exactly wrong, after all Milly went to a trip to Europe with her inheritance and offered Kate the same experience for free. I remember in sociology class how we were shown this chart which simply explains in a picture how until our materialistic necessities are fulfilled, such as food, shelter, financial security, then emotional stability would never be reassured. Even if Kate and Merton were to run away without any financial support, it would eventually strain their relationship leaving behind nothing but bitter memories, instead of remembering what attracted them to each other in the first place, just like Kate’s parents. And as for the reason Kate didn’t go for the notion of asking Milly to sponsor herself and her lover, one, that would be tacky. Especially since Milly was also in love with Merton and that would be like killing her softly with her own emotions; they should really cut her some slack as her body is already failing her. Also, I believe it was out of pride that Kate didn’t beg Milly for her money because that would be pathetic. She would have to be indebted to Milly and be constantly reminded that she’s comfortably financed through someone else and not her own efforts. I think Kate just wanted to prove that she could do something herself to get the money, instead of proving her aunt right about finding a new patron so soon. The point is this was a very well – written blog post and money can corrupt and create the most complicated messes which blurs the lines between right and wrong, which is why it has the power to affect so many relationships and capable of destroying them. Just like how the issue of money transformed (awfully) the lives of three young people.

  2. The way in which money (or what money can buy) influences almost every character in the novel is clear. What you might want to address as well is the way *secrecy* shapes the ways in which their relationships form and change. In the film Milly is candid and Kate has secrets–particularly with respect to her relationship with Merton. In the novel James balances the situation: Milly keeps her relationship with Merton secret from Kate (ineffectually, because Merton has been writing to Kate from America) just as Kate keeps her relationship with Merton secret from Milly (quite well in the short run with assistance of lies from Aunt Maud — though ineffectually in the long run since Lord Mark susses it out and tells Milly).

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