The Ant and the Grasshopper

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  • Topic: Work ethic, Protestant work ethic, W. Somerset Maugham
  • Pages : 2 (454 words )
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  • Published : October 21, 2007
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In « The Ant and the Grasshopper » by W. Somerset Maugham, Tom receives a huge inheritance from an old woman he married after years of idling and taking money from his brother George, who has always worked very hard. Their way of working and their way of spending money differentiate the two brothers, George and Tom.

Unlike Tom who is a fun lover, George works hard. He embodies the "Protestant work ethic", "[George] had never taken more than a fortnight's holiday […] [and] was in his office every morning at nine-thirty and never left it till six."(104) George is a serious character; therefore, he works hard to earn his own money. He renounces to enjoy himself to be a workaholic.

Tom seems lazy. "He depended on his brother George"(104). Tom stops working very early and enjoys his life travelling, clubbing and shopping for twenty years. Even if he was forty-six, Tom "philandered with the prettiest girls, danced, ate in the most expensive restaurants, and dressed beautifully"(104). Although Tom is forty-six, his life is just amusement as a twenty years old young man. He wastes his time enjoying himself while his brother George is "labouring".

Whereas Tom takes money from others and spends it on luxuries, George keeps his money for future. He saves the money he earns with his work. "He made a point of saving a third of his income and his plan was to retire at fifty-five to a little house in the country."(105) George is well-disciplined; he is not spontaneous but organised. He does not take advantage of each day in spending his money in restaurants or clothes.

Tom lives for today. He makes money from others and especially from George, to whom he "blackmailed" if George refused to pay him. Tom "said that the money you spent on necessities was boring; the money that was amusing to spend was the money you spent on luxuries".(104) Instead of thinking about his future, Yom wants to enjoy each minutes of his life buying jewels, expensive clothes, and a...
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