Sunday, October 23, 2016
Reflection on an Excerpt from "On the Want Of Money"
William Hazlitt's "On the Want of Money" is a compelling piece that takes a look at how money, or rather the want of it, is dehumanizing as it takes away from the pleasures of life, leaving it barren and banal. The nineteenth century writer's purpose for writing this piece could've been to highlight the detrimental effect money has all on people, wealthy and impoverished alike. The tone of the essay can be characterized as satiric due to the fact that Hazlitt dismisses the human yearning for affluence as foolishness. For instance, on lines 18-19 he gives an exaggerated example of the lengths people would go to money. He says that to want money is to be willing to "marry your landlady, or not the person you wish. " This is quite the exaggeration and is clearly satiric as he is ridiculing human kind's desperate need for wealth. Additionally, Hazlitt utilizes diction to further establish his argument. In the phrase "to forgo leisure, freedom, ease of body and mind, to be dependent on the good-will and caprice of others" the employment of words such as "forgo" and "dependent" contribute to a sense of despondency as Hazlitt compares being poor to being powerless in life. He then employs the same rhetorical techniques to show that being wealthy is no better than being poor. For example, he uses words like "envy, back-biting, and false-hood" to show the type of response others will have about someone's wealth. Ultimately, Hazlitt makes an effective argument by utilizing word choice and satire to show that when it comes to wealth, the grass really isn't greener on the other side. This essay is applicable to the world today as it can serve as a reminder to people to slow down from their search for wealth, reassess their morals and live their life to the fullest.