Study Guide

The Mysteries of Udolpho Greed

By Ann Radcliffe

Greed

"Our notions are somewhat enlarged since those days," said M. Quesnel; "What was then thought a decent style of living would not now be endured." (1.1.36)

Dude has a point, even if he's a greedy bugger. St. Aubert's been living in some pretty primitive conditions with his family for some time, ignoring the fact that there's an outside world. Get with the times, buddy.

She wished her niece to marry ambitiously, not because she desired to see her in possession of the happiness, which rank and wealth are usually believed to bestow, but because she desired to partake the importance, which such an alliance would give. (1.12.86)

It's kinda hard to wrap our minds around the narrator's attitude toward wealth and greed here. Rank and wealth are "believed to bestow" happiness, but does the narrator really buy this?

Of this kind was the habit of gaming, which he had adopted, first, for the purpose of relieving him from the languor of inaction, but had since pursued with the ardour of passion. (2.3.1)

If there's one pursuit that all the greedy guys take up, it's gotta be gambling. But Montoni's reasons for gambling aren't just greed—it also has a lot to do with boredom.

Montoni had been interested in his suit, by motives entirely selfish, those of avarice and pride […] (2.7.3)

Montoni's pretty smart. When the match to Morano is still on the table, he stipulates that Em's estates in Gascony will get handed over to him.

"The Signor may not be as rich as you had reason to expect, but surely he cannot be very poor, since his castle and the mansion at Venice are his." (2.7.46)

Now the truth comes out. Madame Cheron lost at the greed game when she married Montoni for his wealth.

[…] And thus gradually weakened the habit of yielding to lamentation, till it appeared less a duty to his love to indulge it. (2.8.2)

For Valancourt, greed is a side effect of missing Emily. He tries to fill an Emily-shaped hole in his heart with all that cold, hard cash from gambling.

They sit up, all night, and play among themselves, for all those riches and fine things, they brought in, some time since, when they used to go out a-robbing. (3.8.38)

The greed of Montoni's men is actually pretty unbelievable. Their sole motivation to stay on Montoni's side is that he lets them loot whenever they want.

"Let us first secure that picture," said one of his comrades, approaching the trembling Blanche. "Fair lady, by your leave, that picture is mine; come surrender it, or I will seize it." (4.11.67)

As part of the wealthy class, Blanche has rarely been exposed to this kind of greed. Or is it greed? Are the smugglers just trying to survive, or are they Greedy Gusses?

"I soon found out, madam," resumed Ludovico, "that they were pirates, who had, during many years, secreted their spoil in the vaults of the castle […]" (4.14.23)

Some greedy pirates really round this story out, don't you think? The irony is that if they hadn't overdone all the looting, they might still have the castle to stash stuff in.

[…] he gave Theresa nearly all the money he had about him, though she repeatedly refused it […] drawing a ring of value from his finger. (4.14.45)

It's hard to figure out Valancourt's angle. If he totally lacked a greedy side, he wouldn't have gotten into gambling. But here he is, giving every belonging away to Emily's old servant. Could it have anything to do with the fact that Em is watching?

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