Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 654
One of the biggest problems that George faces from the outset of Tono-Bungay is that he's born into the servant class. This keeps him from joining the class of people who he is raised to believe are his betters; however, he becomes friends with The Honorable Beatrice and plays with her for a couple years until he's sent away from her estate. H.G. Wells writes:
In that English countryside of my boyhood every human being had a "place." It belonged to you from your birth like the colour of your eyes, it was inextricably your destiny. Above you were your betters, below you were your inferiors, and there were even an unstable questionable few, cases so disputable that you might for the rough purposes of every day at least, regard them as your equals.
This puts George in a position where he has to work with his uncle. Once his mother dies, he's even more alone. He's unable to ever break the barriers that separate him from the people with real wealth and power—but continues trying. He's even willing to bend his morals to get what he believes he should have.
Tono-Bungay is a product that his Uncle Edward invents. It's a stimulant that isn't good for you—but the advertising campaign and guarantees that Edward creates make people think it is. The product is so successful that he's able to pay George enough that George can marry Marion, a shopgirl who is waiting for him to have reliable income before committing to him. The promise of commercial success is enough for him to put his morals aside. Wells writes:
You know, from first to last, I saw the business with my eyes open, I saw its ethical and moral values quite clearly. Never for a moment do I remember myself faltering from my persuasion that the sale of Tono-Bungay was a thoroughly dishonest proceeding. The stuff was, I perceived, a mischievous trash, slightly stimulating, aromatic and attractive, likely to become a bad habit and train people in the habitual use of stronger tonics and insidiously dangerous to people with defective kidneys. It would cost about sevenpence the large bottle to make, including bottling, and we were to sell it at half a crown plus the cost of the patent medicine stamp.
George doesn't lie to himself about the dangers and issues with Tono-Bungay. He is, however, willing to leverage his own success against the damage it may do to others. Even commercial success isn't enough to...
(The entire section contains 654 words.)
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