"To exist as an advertisement of her husband's income, or her father's generosity, has become a second nature to many a woman who must have undergone, one would say, some long and subtle process of degradation before she sunk [sic] so low, or grovelled so serenely."
"No one need go into alleys to hunt up wretchedness; they can find it in perfection among the rich and fashionable of every land and nation. Oh! if tesselated hearths and satin tapestries could speak, what tales of agony they might tell! If the marble statues that adorn the riches of lordly mansions could open their mouths, how would they outrival all poetry and romance in the incidents they could proclaim! and could the nuptial couch, with its silken hangings, unfold its memories, could we bear to listen to its disclosures?"
"The richest princes and the poorest beggars are to have one great and just judge at the last day who will not distinguish between them according to their ranks when in life but according to the neglected opportunities afforded to each. How much greater then, as the opportunities were greater, must be the condemnation of the one than of the other?"
"...I'm not money hungry.... People who are rich want to be richer, but what's the difference? You can't take it with you. The toys get different, that's all. The rich guys buy a football team, the poor guys buy a football. It's all relative."
"There never was, I suppose, in the history of the world a time when the sheer vulgar fatness of wealth, without any kind of aristocratic elegance to redeem it, was so obtrusive as in those years before 1914 ... . from the whole decade ... there seems to breathe forth a smell of the more vulgar, un-grown-up kinds of luxury, a smell of brilliantine and creme de menthe and soft- centered chocolates--an atmosphere, as it were of eating everlasting strawberry ices on green lawns to the tune of the Eton Boating Song."
"Stupid misery of fame and money. Always we were safe from it, mistaking our obscurity for a curse when it was a treasure. Free to make what we liked, to be ourselves, even do nothing at all. No one watching. We could be real."
"In the operative opinion of the world, he who is already fully provided with what is necessary for him, that man shall have more; while he who is deplorably destitute of the same, he shall have taken away from him even that which he hath. Yet the world vows it is a very plain, downright matter-of-fact, plodding, humane sort of world."
"How can the physique be braced if no fresh breath from the outer world is suffered to permeate the languid, enervating air of the drawing-room? How can the grasp of the mind be vigorous, without action? Daughters of inherited wealth, or accumulated labor! the wide door of philanthropy is open peculiarly to you! Your life-work lies beyond your threshold: your wealth has placed you above the sorrowful struggle for daily bread which takes up the whole time of so many of your brothers and sisters. You are the almoners of God. A double accountability is yours."
"Material advancement has its share in moral and intellectual progress. Becky Sharp's acute remark that it is not difficult to be virtuous on ten thousand a year has its applications to nations; and it is futile to expect a hungry and squalid population to be anything but violent and gross."