A Rake's Progress, Plate 1, 1st State


William Hogarth ( British, 1697 - 1764 )

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General Description

Hogarth opens the tale with the central character, Tom Rakewell, in his deceased father’s gloomy home. Evidence of his father’s greedy nature includes a painting over the fireplace depicting him counting money. Our protagonist shows no grief as he begins to squander his recently inherited fortune. Impressed by his newfound wealth and lured by his desire for entry into London’s aristocracy, Rakewell has rejected middle-class values of duty, marriage, and thrift. He has no desire to work or keep his word. Meanwhile his past has already caught up with him as he attempts to pay off his pregnant fiancée.