Money and modern society, what is the relationship? One has to acknowledge that the modern society has been all about money. Everything that human beings do today either is intended to make money, or is in one way or another affected by money. It cannot be completely dismissed as greed especially because the modern society cannot function without money. Money is a primary theme everywhere. In this essay, the influence of money in social relationships is examined with reference to the play A Doll House (Ibsen).
The thesis statement for this essay is that model is a huge destroyer of relationships, including those based on love and matrimony.
Money, or lack thereof, will always be a cause of disagreements. It is either people cannot agree on what to do to raise enough money for themselves, or they cannot agree on how to spend whatever money they have. In the play A Doll House, both of these scenarios are evidence in the very first Act.
Helmer and Nora are a married couple, and the events and exchanges that take place in Act 1 show a couple not close to agreeing on many things about money. The family is not in a good financial condition, and Helmer is keen on how the money gets spent. Nora, on the other side, fails to understand that her husband does not like her way of spending the little money there is for them.
Nora has bought many things for Christmas and convinces her husband these things are cheap.
Helmer asks her what she wants, and she hesitantly says she wants him to give her as much money as he makes, and then she can save up and buy something sensible. This scenario, considering it is an opening scene of the play, can tell a lot about relationships and money. Helmer calls his wife a spendthrift. It’s a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!
The play, it can be argued reflects how money has occupy a central position in the social relationships. Relationship are, therefore, shaped and bound by the amount of money available and a mutual agreement on how to use this money. In many psychological studies, it has been established that money affects social relationships and interactions, in many cases for the better. However, there are those who acknowledge that money undermines interpersonal harmony (Vohs, Mead, & Goode). As expressed in the scenario of Helmer and Nora, the interpersonal harmony cannot be found because of the disagreement over money. While Helmer wants to spend less and save more, Nora needs more money to spend around the household. In later stages of the play, this harmony is disrupted beyond repair when the marriage is destroyed. It all started with a happy couple with a few disagreements over money to a destroyed family over huge issues with money.
One thing said by Helmer in this play makes a lot of sense that people who keep secrets and lie tend to corrupt their families. Looking at psychology again, there is research to indicate that in the context of money matters, individuals pursuing different goals hinder success in other domains of life. In this case, it is the money that damages the social relationship. In a relationship like that of Helmer and Nora where there is no agreement on what to do with the money, the individuals are bound to pursue different goals. In this case, the theory of the mind (ToM) holds that the effect of money on ToM depend on the structure of the monetary incentives (Ridinger & McBride). If this is the case then, it can be argued that the end result of the disagreements between the couple was determined by the monetary incentives being greater Nora found the new freedom from the relationship a better option than to put up with all these disagreements.
The fact that money makes people change can be described by a newly coined term called ‘affluenza’. In the context of money and its effect on people, this term is defined as a painful, contagious, and socially transmitted condition of debt, overload, waste, and anxiety emanating from dogged pursuit of more (Gregoire). Afflunza makes people fail to comprehend the full consequences of their actions. Even in court cases today, affluenza has been used in defences. If this can be observed in real life and not just a topic in theoretical research, then it can be argued that money changes actions and this puts other people at risk. When this happens, the next possible thing to happen is a break of the social relationship.
Affluenza is manifested in A Doll House through the actions of both Nora and Helmer. To begin with, Nora fails to realize how her actions will affect her husband and their relationship. Taking into consideration that this was the 19th century, the wife taking monetary matters in her hands was offensive for the husband, especially so when it was all done behind his back. In theory, materialism is one of the greatest causes of role conflict because it affects the behaviours and choices (or decisions) as people succumb to the strong desire for extrinsic rewards (Promislo, Deckop, Giacalone, & Jurkiewicz 936). Again, it was the 19th century and the roles of the family members were expected to be clearly defined. However, the materialism got the better of Nora, an action possibly offensive to Helmer. It was more important for her to make some financial arrangements that to consider her husband’s feelings about the same.
Helmer was also affected by this affluenza. By the definition given, the concept of debt is mentioned, and this may have caused Helmer to make some irrational statements and actions that might have caused the eventual break up. Apparently, his wife’s actions regarding money matters were hurting, and it could be argued that his ego was too big to let these things just go. He had to confront his wife even if these confrontations were also hurting his wife. Again, the actions taken do not consider the effect on other people.
It can be argued, however, that Helmer was somewhat in a greater fix as a result of Nora’s actions. For one, he was socially accountable for his wife’s action, a fact that Krogstad seeks to capitalize on through blackmail. Secondly, these actions now result in a blackmail attempt, an incidence that threatens the life of Nora herself’ she is ready to take her life to protect her husband from the scandal. Does Krogstad care? He does not as all that matter is a promotion that will get him higher pay and more money.
While all of the things discussed above are negative about the effect on money on relationships, it would be unfair to leave this discussion at that without examining the good side of the money. It is true money may change the psychology of people, but then life would not be that easy without the money. Even for Helmer and Nora, it can be argued that they still would have problems if they did not have money’ they would have to deal with poverty. Money is a social organization based on accepted symbols and standardized forms and established conventions. It allows exchange, and this exchange is considered to be the basis for economic and social evolution of the society (Jacobs & Slaus). Without the money, it is hard to imagine how the society would be.
In conclusion, it is established that money is indeed detrimental to social relationships. The basic argument is that it changes people and how they behave and the choices they make. The relationship between Helmer and Nora is used herein as an example of how a matrimonial relationship is destroyed by money. There are many ways that money changes people. Once, it makes people fail to agree on some things. Secondly, people behave in ways that hurt others and they do not even know they are hurting others. Lastly, it brings about the role conflict where materialism gets the better of people and their actions are determined by the monetary incentives. It has been appreciated, however, that money is also critically important to human beings despite all the negatives.
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