Discuss and summarize the poem "Money-Madness" by D. H. Lawrence.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“Money-Madness,” written by D. H. Lawrence in the 1920s, has a message that is appropriate for the world today.   In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in absolute poverty. Every year 15 million children die of hunger. According to Lawrence, no one should have to beg for food to eat. 

Obsessing over money is insane.   We must work to stop the fixation about wealth before there are wars and killing for the sake of money. 

The poet is afraid for society.  If man becomes so consumed by money, he forgets what else is important in the world.  Financial issues are stressful.  Often, society judges a man by his riches.  If he is poor, then society says: Let him eat dirt or beg for it.

Lawrence again emphasizes that the world has become preoccupied with money and having wealth. It is madness to place such importance on money which can be lost in the blink of an eye. People do not like to share their money. The larger the amount the more painful it becomes to give it away. 

Man cowers before the god of wealth—Money can stress a person, The consumption of riches has power over man. It is the collective or  shared wealth that is most frightening.  The narrator states that people will:

For mankind says with one voice: How much is he worth?
Has he no money? Then let him eat dirt and go cold –

And if I have no money, they will give me a little bread,
so I do not die…

The narrator hopes that if he has no money, mankind will give him bread, so that he might live. Of course, they may make him eat dirt.  This fear of the “money hungry fellow man” can confuse a person.

To summarize his point, Lawrence avows that people should not have to beg for food to eat.  Food, shelter, and fire should be free for everyone. Mankind must regain its composure concerning the financial aspect of life before we start killing one another over it.