Money Madness by D. H. Lawrence

About the Poem

As the title implies, the poem is about financial insanity. The poet expresses concern about man’s desire for more wealth and luxuries, as well as the erosion of human values. Money madness dehumanises man. If money madness is not reined in, it has the potential to destroy our humanity. Money is the source of our collective insanity. Individuals cannot protect themselves from it.

Man spends money with trepidation and pang. Money causes us to flee. Money has brought us to our knees. Money wields a terrifyingly cruel power over men. We are terrified of humanity’s collective insanity. If the man is without money, he will have to eat dirt and succumb to the elements. They will not provide him with enough bread. The world will decide whether he lives or dies. Man is afraid of eating dirt, which is why he must save money. We must exercise caution in our dealings with money. Man will be fearless if he has access to free bread, shelter, and fire. If this is not done, mankind will begin to murder one another.

Summary of Money Madness

Money Madness is written by D.H. Lawrence. In this poem, the poet exposes the craziness of money-hungry humans. The poet condemns the madness for money, claiming that it has resulted in the loss of life’s values. D.H.Lawrence’s poems, such as ‘Snake’ and ‘Mosquito’, are primarily an examination of interpersonal, man-animal relationships. The poem decries man’s insatiable desire for wealth and worldly luxuries at the expense of human values. Man becomes an insensitive and inhuman being as a result of this madness. He loses his spirituality, his faith, his sympathy, and his morality. If left unchecked, this madness has the potential to destroy our humanity.

Money insanity is more perilous than money. It has conditioned man to humiliate those without money. Individuals who lack financial resources are fearful of social humiliation. Man’s worth is quantifiable in monetary terms. This fear results in an emotional outburst. Man is more concerned with his self-esteem. As a result, he desires money.

The poet expresses opposition to this attitude. He asserts that this is all incorrect. He is adamant that everyone should receive free bread and shelter on a global scale. According to the poet, we should exchange wisdom for money. Unless and until we do this, men will continue to murder others for money. Thus, he criticises money-madness for resulting in the loss of life’s values.

Analysis of the Poem

In the poem ‘Money Madness,’ the poet observes his fellow human beings from a materialistic perspective. The poet is fearful of a future in which humans become inhuman in their pursuit of money. D.H Lawrence’s Money Madness is a satirical examination of the rush for affluence that is visible all around us in today’s world. Money has become a significant player in contemporary societies and is central to the modern way of life. The poet has attempted to exemplify this situation and depict the social and moral degradation through his pen. The poet asserts that madness for money exists everywhere; indeed, money can be used as a metaphor for the term madness. And this madness is not on a micro or individualistic scale; it is the madness of the multitude, in unfathomable numbers and at incredible scales.

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Each person in this world carries a portion of this insanity. The poet expresses doubt that there is a human being in this world who can hand out a pound note without feeling a pang of guilt. No matter how noble he feels while handing out the note, his heart always wishes he could do all that good without ever having to take a note from his pocket.

When that note transforms into a ten-pound note, he feels genuine tremors within. He trembles as if robbed. Money has destroyed us.

“Is he out of money?” Then let him eat dirt and perish,” the society states. It lends him a small sum of money sufficient to purchase a piece of bread in the name of humanity. However, even this modest offering is not gratuitous. To obtain it, the poor man must eat dirt (humiliation). He is publicly humiliated and insulted, which is unforgivable. The poet expresses fear for this pitiful and inhumane (savage) situation.

The poet declares that bread, shelter, and fire should be available to anyone and everyone on the planet. We must overcome our insanity with logic, or we will begin murdering one another for the sake of money.

The primary reason for unhappiness and suffering is that we have paid and continue to pay more attention to material progress and comforts while ignoring life-sustaining human values. Without a doubt, science and technology have advanced tremendously, but we continue to lag behind in our understanding of ourselves and our fellow beings. We are more concerned with lust, power, and wealth than with human empathy, comprehension, affection, kindness, and cooperation. Self-centred attitudes ultimately result in self-destruction. Without regaining our sanity, we will undoubtedly create a chaotic society.

Questions and Answers


1. Why does the poet state that money is our collective madness?
Ans:- The poet states that money is our “collective madness” as he deals with a topic of universal importance regarding the money madness of man. This madness is not on small or individualistic level but it is the madness of the multitude.

2. Why do we grovel before money?
Ans:- We grovel before money as it has become the controlling power of our lives. It makes us kneel infront of itself. It makes us fearful and a sense of apprehension and stress grips us. It has an exaggerating power to influence our life.

3. What does the poet mean by, ‘I shall have to eat dirt’?
Ans:- The poet says that if he has no money, the world would give him “little bread” to eat, in the name of humanity. But even this small offering does not come for free.
He has to suffer through pains unheard and criticisms unparallelled. This is what the poet means when he says “I shall have to eat dirt”.

4. What is the poet afraid of?
Ans:- The poet is afraid of the inhumane and pitiful situation of eating dirt if one has no money. He fears that such madness for money might result in the world going completely insane.

5. Do you agree with the poet that our basic needs should be free?
Ans:- Yes, our basic needs such as bread, shelter and fire should be free to people all around the world. It is the cost of these basic needs that make man rush for money and once these needs are made free, man would regain his sanity about money.

Critically Analyze

1. Money is our madness, our vast collective madness. And of course, if the multitude is mad The individual carries his own grain of insanity around with him.

a. Why is money referred to as our collective madness?
Ans:- Money is referred to as our collective madness as this madness is not on small or individualistic levels but it is the madness of the multitude, in numbers unimaginable and at levels incredible. And since the multitude as a whole is mad, so every person in this world carries his share of “insanity” with him.

b. Is it the craving for money by each individual that goes on to make up this collective madness?
Ans:- Yes, it is the craving for money by each individual that goes on to make up this “collective madness”.

2.  It is that I am afraid of.
And that fear can become a delirium.
It is fear of my money mad fellow-man. We  must have some money
To save us from eating dirt

a. What is the poet afraid of?
Ans:- The poet is afraid of the inhumane and pitiful situation of eating “dirt” if one has no money. He fears that such madness for money might result in the world going completely insane.
b. What would money save us from?
Ans:- Money would save us from the inhumane and pitiful situation of eating “dirt”.
c.  What is the dirt that the poet is referring to?
Ans:- The untold sufferings, pains unheard and criticisms unparalleled that one has to go through when he has no money, is the “dirt” that the poet is referring to.

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Detailed Questions

1. How does money have a cruel power over men? OR

Discuss the theme of the poem Money Madness.
Ans:- D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Money Madness” is a critical examination of the modern era’s frenzy for money. Money has become a powerful force in today’s societies, and it now has a greater importance in people’s lives than anything else. The poet’s poem attempts to exemplify this situation and to depict the social and moral degeneration that such madness for a materialistic object results in. Wealth and money are such seductive forces that we are unable to control them; rather, they control us. Thus, the poet describes how wealth inverts control, saying, “It has brought us low, and we grovel before it in strange terror.” The poet questions whether there is a human being in this world who can hand out a one-pound note without feeling a pang of guilt. No matter how noble he feels while handing over that note, his heart always wishes he could do all good without ever having to remove a note from his pocket. And when it becomes a ten-pound note, we feel a genuine tremor within. The greater the sum, the more difficult it is to give it away. Often, society judges a man solely on the basis of his wealth. If he is impoverished, society says, “Let him eat dirt and die of exposure.” Thus, money wields a cruel power over men by compelling us to kneel in front of it and also by exaggerating its ability to influence our lives.

2. How does the poet make a distinction between money and money-madness?
Ans:- According to the poet, everywhere we look, there is madness for money. Indeed, money can be thought of as a metaphor for the term “craziness.” This is not a case of small or individualistic madness, but of “multitude” madness. In a broader sense, the poet asserts that we are terrified of mankind’s insanity for money, not money itself. He distinguished between money and money-madness in the poem with the lines, “But it is not money that we fear; it is mankind’s collective money-madness.” Money should not be blamed for mankind’s insanity; rather, it is the madness associated with it that degrades man’s moral values. The human race has succumbed to madness as a result of the money craze. Anguished by it, the poet opines that we should cure ourselves of “money madness” rather than “money,” and that unless we “restore our sanity” regarding money, man will revert to animal status. We’re going to start murdering one another for the sake of profit.

3. How do you think people can overcome ‘money-madness’?
Ans:- People can overcome “money-madness” if bread, shelter, and fire are made universally available to everyone, everywhere. This is because we all struggle to earn a living, and it is the cost of these basic necessities that drives man’s desire for additional money. The cost of such things is what impoverishes man. Once man’s basic needs are met, he will regain his financial sanity. The abolition of materialistic goods with a price component would assist people in overcoming “money madness.”

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