EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON QUESTIONS FOR E335 VICTORIAN LITERATURE
Assigned: Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Money. (Separate text: Stierstorfer, Klaus, ed. London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0192832962. Pp. 3-73.
Money, Act 1
1. In Act 1, Scene 1, we are introduced to Sir John Vesey, the play's reigning patriarch. In what ways does he fail to live up to the expectations a Victorian audience might have had about such a figure? What are Sir John's actual principles, and what are his main concerns in the first act?
2. In Act 1, Scene 1, what is Alfred Evelyn's situation and status before the reading of Mr. Mordaunt's will? How do his sentiments, language, and actions at this point contrast with those of Sir John and his daughter Georgina? What is his relationship with Clara?
3. In Act 1, Scene 1, we meet Sir Frederick Blount, the dandy who seems to be Georgina's favorite before Evelyn suddenly becomes rich. What characterizes Blount's speech and what motives animate his actions? How does Lady Franklin sum up this minor but relevant character? (If you are presenting on this question, you might round off your comments by researching the phenomenon of the "dandy" in Regency and post-Regency England since Blount is a fine example of dandiacal posturing and ethics.)
4. In Act 1, Scene 1, the will is read to the assembled characters. How has old Mordaunt divided up his money -- what has he left to each principal person in attendance, and why? This scene has often been described as probably the best in the play -- what might account for its popularity, and in what sense is it representative of the values and anxieties that are the stuff of the play as a whole?
Money, Act 2
5. In Act 2, Scene 1, Glossmore and Stout (here as elsewhere) carry on their running battle over who deserves to be elected as an MP (parliamentary representative) for Groginhole, the estate Evelyn has just purchased. What is the nature of their disagreement -- that is, what political outlook does each man represent in the England of 1840? (Especially if you are presenting on this question, feel free to refer to additional scenes if they help you respond.)
6. In Act 2, Scenes 1-2, how does the wall of misunderstanding between Evelyn and Clara grow thicker? What events and assumptions, that is, have widened the rift between them since Clara's initial rejection of Evelyn? What reasons are there to retain hope that they might end up together?
Money, Act 3
7. In Act 3, Scenes 1 and 3, respectively, what does Evelyn learn from Graves about Sir John and Georgina's designs on him, and what scheme does he devise to frustrate their intentions and recover the possibility of a match between himself and Clara? What anxieties on Sir John's part give Evelyn an opening to deceive him? (If you are presenting on this question, consider including some comments on the time-honored English characterization of "the rake," as represented in Hogarth and others' visual arts or literary works.)
8. In Act 3, Scene 2, by what specific device does Lady Franklin help Graves get beyond his "perpetual widower" pose? Consider also the play's handling of their unfolding courtship in scenes such as Act 2, Scene 2 -- what affinities have already begun to bring them together even before the third act? With regard to the play generally, what perspective do these two characters add that makes them extremely valuable to Evelyn and Clara?
Money, Act 4
9. In Act 4, Scene 1 (as in Act 2, Scene 1), we hear the perspectives of various tradespeople and artisans regarding Evelyn's situation, which by now seems to be best termed his "plight." What thematic or philosophical value might inhere in Bulwer-Lytton's inclusion of such minor characters' notions about the play's events and key personages? And how does Captain Dudley Smooth manage to placate them and make them useful to his and Evelyn's contrivances?
10. In Act 4, Scene 2, describe the unfolding of the plot Evelyn and Smooth have cooked up: what test of Georgina's virtue do Evelyn's supposed losses allow him to make? What kind of future as a husband and son-in-law does he lay before her and Sir John, and how do they react?
Money, Act 5
11. In Act 5, Scenes 1-3, what key information and actions drive the play forwards and lead to the comic denouement (literally, the "untying" of the plot's obstacles)? How does this information and action help clarify the true nature of the main characters, most particularly Georgina and Clara?
12. In Act 5, Scene 3, the conclusion tallies the successful marriages that are the stuff of comedy: Evelyn and Clara, Georgina and Blount, Lady Franklin and Graves. Everyone has been accommodated, and each sums up what's most necessary to happiness in a phrase, concluding with Evelyn's, "plenty of -- Money!" Beyond the most obvious point, what has money been good for in this play, now that we have reached the end?
13. General question: while many people seem to have found Bulwer-Lytton's Money a reasonably engaging play, no-one would confuse it with Shakespeare's comic masterpieces. In spite of its charms, what might this play be said to lack that keeps it from being placed alongside greater ones? What does the playwright's aim seem to be? What doesn't it seem to be?
Edition: Stierstorfer, Klaus, ed. London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0192832962. Pp. 3-73.