Friday, October 17, 2008

The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde


Let’s begin with the synopsis of this short story. Hughie Erskine is a gorgeous and well-known man. He has every accomplishment except earning money. He tries everything; from being an investor, a tea- merchant, to selling dry sherry. Nothing works and what makes thing worse that he is in love. The girl is Laura Merton, the daughter of a retired Colonel. Both are madly in love and adoring each other. The problem is, Hughie had no idea how he could manage to get ten thousand pounds to get her hand in marriage, as her father has demand. One day, Hughie’s benevolent nature leads him to a wonderful consequence. Given ten thousand by a ‘beggar’ as a wedding present, Hughie could marry Laura instantly with no doubt.
The writer of this story, Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. He is known for being humorous and some of his plays still being performed broadly, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.
After I have read this story a few times, I’ve found out that there are some parts of the story that keep me reading; attentively. The title itself had made me thinking, what this jobless man is going to do with ‘model millionaire’? I’m quite sure that this is not a story where a man with no profession suddenly found a treasure in his backyard and then became an instant millionaire. He must be overcoming something, or struggling to make his dreams come true. Other than that, I don’t have to wait for too long because the author did not take time to introduce the important part of the story.

Narration Style

The Model Millionaire is a story where not any of the character is narrating the story. We called it omniscient point of view. Everyone in the story is being exposed to the reader without prejudice. The narrator knows the entire events that happen. What makes this story more significant is that the narrator intrusively being in depth in showing how a certain character feels and comment about another person; establishing his personal view. For instance, Alan Trevor the painter is introduced as a strange rough fellow yet he feels free to allow Hughie to enter his studio. This is because he believes Hughie is not only charming, but he got the sense of optimistic spirits and charitable nature.
Other than that, the tone of this story is familiar and I found it most suitable. It is being told straight to the point, not like other story which requires us to read with so much confusion and critical thinking. The author makes it understandable, at ease and not to forget, he includes the sense of didacticism.


This short story is being written chronologically and it has close ending where Hughie finally marry his beautiful Laura. The part where Hughie gives ‘the beggar’ a sovereign is a complete turnover of this story. Hughie is expecting the millionaire to be mad at him because he falsely regarded him as a beggar. Ironically Baron Hausberg, the millionaire gives him ten thousands to show his appreciation towards Hughie’s charitable nature. As for me, both the rising action and the climax are well developed. Apart from that, I think the ending is quite monotonous. The typical ‘living happily ever after’ has take place. What will happen to Hughie after he gets married? How about his failure to get permanent income? The then thousand pounds won’t be sufficient till the end of their life, isn’t it?


As long as I’m concern, the characters are quite well developed and presented. There is adequate description about every single character; certainly it’s according to their level of contribution in the story. For instance, Hughie is being depicted as handsome, having crisp brown hair, clear-cut profile and grey eyes. His nature of generosity and buoyancy are revealed indirectly by Alan Trevor’s point of view.Alan Trevor is portrayed as rare, with freckled face and a red raged beard. In addition, even the visitor who was sent by Baron Hausberg is described as an old gentleman with gold spectacles and grey hair. This kind of exposure can help the reader to imagine their appearance in the story, making it more effective.
Moreover, speech and actions included has brought the readers closer to the story. Sometimes it seems that we can get into the characters’ head and figure out his thought. At the same time, the characters’ values are to be exposed this way. For example, Hughie’s generosity is portrayed within a conversation with Alan in the Palette Club;
‘My dear Alan,’ cried Hughie, ‘I shall probably find him waiting for me when I go home. But of course you are only joking. Poor old wretch! I wish I could do something for him. I think it is dreadful that any one should be so miserable. I have got heaps of old clothes at home- do you think he would care for any of them? Why, his rags were falling to bits.’


A number of settings that I’ve found in the story included time, places and socioeconomic settings. Sufficient illustration is included so that we know the story was held in London where their currency is pound sterling. The scene where Hughie meets Alan and ‘the beggar ’in the studio, and they were in the Palette Club happened in a day. Then the next morning Hughie has been given the ten thousand pounds as a wedding gift. The socioeconomic setting shows any beggars are rarely found at the street as being mention by Alan;
‘Such beggars as he are not to be met with every day.’
This might mean that only few people are living hardly, others lived comfortably.
To analyze about the effectiveness of the settings, I would say that there are some settings that have help the reader to understand more, but another setting is inadequate for some reasons. For example, the situation in common places such as studio and night club are quite similar no matter which country are you in. So, whatever scene takes place in that area the reader can help themselves to understand the scene. On the contrary, for readers who haven’t been to European country might have some difficulty to get the picture of socioeconomic and cultural setting mentioned in the story.


In my point of view, this story is quite interesting because it reminds us about moral values that sometime and somehow we had forgotten or neglect. Being a well educated human should make us aware of others people burden. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Without no doubt, kindness will be repay by kindness, no matter how, when and where it should be. Even though ‘the beggar’ is not a true beggar, Hughie’s sincerity to help him without hoping anything in return can be symbolized as we shouldn’t take things for granted.
On the other hand, the simplicity of vocabulary and syntax also add my interest towards reading and analyzing this story. It is easy to understand with light conflict and exposure to some French language. Suitable to be read at all level, this story could catch the reader attention to finish them in a few minutes.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, it helped me so much with the text interpretation! Thanx a million!))))))))
PS: I really like the way you wrote it)

abey vijay said...

thk u so much... Thz hve helpd me a lrge.

ash said...

thank you. Indeed this detail i didnot find anywhere.