The Role Of Wealth In Fiction

They say money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a good enough personality to make a cracking character on TV, in books or on film.

Some of the most interesting or indeed well-known characters in fiction are indeed incredibly wealthy, with their financial prowess providing an interesting back story for their actions; or indeed adding to the plot! Of course, not all great characters are rich. In fact, poverty can be fascinating on our screens, showing suffering and other intriguing dramas which shouldn’t draw us in but secretly do! It just all goes to show that when it comes to make-believe, the cold, hard truth of cash prevails.

Take a look at this list of the richest fictional characters, for example. You’ll notice some of the more prolific ones have money where you might not even have considered it before. Of course, there are some obvious culprits! Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby is renowned for his lavish and frivolous spending in the name of impressing a somewhat exploitative woman, his wealth serving as a catalyst for the very plot line itself.

However, some characters’ wealth is indeed a lot more subtle – take the Cullen family in Twilight, for example. This hugely popular franchise is never centred around money in its tale, but when you sit down to think about it, you’ll realise it comes into play. How else can a group of vampires continue to live in relative comfort for centuries and afford fancy clothes and even plane trips? Of course, money comes into play when you look for it.

pic1
(CC BY 2.0) by magesomido )

On TV, there’s no exception. Often characters will confuse us – for example, the girls in Pretty Little Liars are high school students, and yet they always have wardrobes brimming with the latest trends! Although money is rarely an issue in the plot, it’s implied – without these clothes and despite the girls being beautiful, perhaps “ugly little liars” just wouldn’t have the same ring to it!

pic2
(CC BY 2.0) by public.photos.allowed )

Whether money is the focal point of a particular plot, or it simply allows the main part of the action to take place without obstacles, there is no doubt that wealth has to be carefully considered. No matter if you’re characterising someone’s mannerisms based on their material wealth, or giving a metaphorically rich back story to a rags-to-riches survivor, it’s a more powerful motif than we might originally tend to think!

For all the latest TV news and reviews