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Submitted Literature

Hard Cash

By Charles Reade


Hard Cash was published in 1863 and it forms part of Charles Reade’s campaign to publicise and reform the abuses of private lunatic asylums. Hard Cash plays into contemporary Victorian anxieties surrounding the fear of wrongful confinement via Charles Reade’s exposition of the malpractices of both the psychiatric doctors and the laws surrounding lunacy. The novel is peppered with references to contemporary law and the fictional text aims to illuminate how this legal system was open to manipulation and abuse. Throughout the text Reade explores the difficulties of diagnosing madness and how the boundaries between sanity and insanity are distinctly blurred. It also examines the influence of money on mental health as there is a clear implication in this novel, that the pursuit of financial gain has a detrimental effect on the sanity of the characters.  There is also a suggestion that the character of Dr. Wycherley, an advocate of non-restraint was based upon the famous psychiatric doctor, John Conolly who ran Hanwell, a private lunatic asylum in the nineteenth century.

Key Themes:

  • Asylums

Significant Quotes / Pages

Wycherley was said to be a 'collector of mad people, and collectors are always amateurs, and very seldom connoisseurs. His turn of mind co-operating with his interests, led him to put down any man a lunatic, whose intellect was manifestly superior to his own' (Reade, 428)

'Dr. Wycherly's curiosity was not of a very ardent kind: for he was one of those who first form an opinion, and then collect the materials of one: and a very little fact goes a long way with such minds' (Reade, 326)

Reference: Charles, Reade. 1863. Hard Cash. Hard Press, n.d


Ms Joanne Ella Parsons
Date Review Submitted: Friday 30th April 2010