"But would not the same love be a great deal safer in a castle?" : love and money in the novels of Thomas Love Peacock : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English Literature at Massey University
This thesis examines the relationship between romantic love and wealth in the novels of Thomas Love Peacock. Nineteenth-century England was a time of great social mobility as well as severe economic hardship, showing the effects of capitalism to have both positive and negative influences. In his novels Peacock views the market economy as cruel and greedy, and the aristocracy as self-interested and petty. The economic and moral solution Peacock offers to redress these failings is based on an older feudalistic model which promotes benevolence and humanitarianism. To portray the development of this new yet old social model. Peacock employs romantic love as an instrument of social reform. Wealthy young individuals marry for romantic love rather than reasons of wealth and pedigree that dominate most marriages of their class, thereby heralding a new, more compassionate generation. Peacock's solution is somewhat idealistic, yet it is an idealism that survives to this day, as twentieth-century society still invests a great deal of hope in romantic love. Though Peacock tries to separate romantic love from economic influence, he creates somewhat of a paradox by then using the romantic partnership in marriage as a method of social reform. This paradox displays the moral difficulties surrounding money that often cause literature to retreat into idealism. It is this retreat that has facilitated the cultural emphasis on romantic love, which is now an integral aspect of our popular culture.