Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Rake's Progress, Part 1: The Heir
While most of our Hogarthian series tend to end with a death A Rake's Progress begins with one. We are introduced to our hero while he is in mourning for his poor father, whom has just passed away. Tom Rakewell is fresh out of university, having the finest education money can buy. So perhaps his collegiate experience has prepared him for being the head of the household. Look, he is using both his debate and business class skills already! Our rake's pregnant fiancee has just arrived with her mother. As you can tell by the look on Tom's face, he's is giving some lame excuse as to why he changed his mind about marrying her. She cries while her scary mother looks like she's about to beat an heir.
But Tom really does not have any time to deal with these triffles. He is very busy. While his father devoted his life to humility Tom thinks both he and his new pad are overdue for some pampering. The mourning servants, with tears in their eyes for their deceased master set to work putting up the black mourning clothes over the walls of the house. But the first order Tom puts into action is shopping for new clothes. He was being measured for a new outfit when he was so rudely interupted by the pregnant Miss Young. His lawyer takes advantage of the situation to dip his hand in an open pocket of gold coins. He has also instructed the servants to open up all the dusty chests and wardrobes to know the true possessions of his father that had been hidden from him throughout his childhood. Apparently his father was quite the miser, as one servant has found treasures in the chimney. Oh dear, it is beginning to appear to me that young Mr Rakewell is entirely self-centred.
It becomes more and more apparent just how much of a miser Rakewell Senior was. There is even a portrait of him counting money above the fireplace. It appears that this hindering lifestyle has caused the young Rakewell to go on a path in the opposite direction. After so many years of saving money he is ready to be a one man economic stimulus!