D. H. Lawrence

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

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D.H. Lawrence's "Money Madness" addresses what the speaker sees as increasing greed in our society and how we are growing mad as a result. Towards the end of the poem, the speaker talks about the injustice of anyone having to beg to eat and stay alive, and how hunger for more money will lead us to kill one another if we do not stop to think rationally.


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Marietta Sadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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D. H. Lawrence's poem "Money Madness" was written in the 1920s and can be read as a criticism of the consumerist, materialistic culture of those times. From the opening line ("Money is our madness, our vast collective madness"), Lawrence explicitly equates money with madness, implying that it makes us irrational and foolish.

In the third stanza, Lawrence gives an example of this madness when he describes, with deliberate hyperbole, the physical pain that he imagines people must feel when they have to part with even "a pound note." He then describes money as a cruel, oppressive master before which "we grovel...in strange terror."

In the fourth and fifth stanzas, Lawrence highlights a much more insidious consequence of our "collective madness," namely the fact that we value a person's worth according to the amount of money he or she does or does not have. If somebody does not have any money, then we tend to consider them worthless. We let that person "eat dirt, and go cold." This appears to be demonstrably true if we consider common attitudes toward homeless people. Unfortunately, many people look down upon or are otherwise scornful of homeless people simply because they do not have the money or the material possessions that we associate with normality and respectability.

In summary, Lawrence portrays money as something which makes us mad and causes us pain and also as something which enslaves and degrades us. "Money Madness" can be interpreted as a Marxist poem, in that its criticisms of our attitudes toward money are very similar to the criticisms of Capitalism expounded by Marx. Marx, like Lawrence in this poem, also pointed out that the way we think about and treat one other is poisoned by the economic framework in which we live.

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carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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“Money-Madness,” written by D. H. Lawrence in the 1920s, has a message that is...

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