With the Jarndyce v. Jarndyce suit being at the center of the novel’s events, it cannot be helped that money is an intrinsic theme of the text. However, one of the more interesting things I noticed about the earlier portions of the text were the dysfunctional ways in which various characters interacted with money. Mr. Skimpole displays an extremely flippant attitude towards many aspects of life, but his financial attitude is perhaps one of the most exemplified, as we see time and time again his disregard for paying his debts.
Richard seems to be a good deal more level-headed than Skimpole, but in matters of money, his behavior makes just as little sense. He carelessly spends money that is not his own, squanders what little he does have upon involving himself in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit, and rebuffs all attempts to correct his behavior, standing atop his certainty on the outcome of the suit in his favor. Both of these sets of poor financial habits stem from ignorance of the weight and import that money has in the world, and neither man learns the error of his ways.
However, one of the most fascinating interactions with money occurs when Jo is paid for showing Lady Dedlock to the grave of Krook’s mysterious former tenant. Jo bites the coin he is given not just once, but several times as he walks away from Lady Dedlock. Jo has been stuck at such a level of poverty that he literally cannot believe the sum of money he has been given, and must constantly and repeatedly remind himself of its veracity.