Many of you have probably guessed that even before I was interested in money I was very interested in literature; and the classics at that. Some of them are hopelessly out of fashion; about a year ago I left a comment on a blog mentioning Flaubert and it turned out that the author – a very intelligent but rather young person – had never heard of him but from what I said he thought he is ‘a clever dude’.
Well, Flaubert was a clever dude albeit a very pretentious one (he always insisted he found writing hard and edited a lot but George Sand outed him as a diva); Tolstoy was another clever dude (and also a morally repugnant human being according to even very generous standards). Why am I telling you about them?
Because, I have long been unable to decide which female character I find most annoying: Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina or one of Ibsen’s female leads.
While I am still undecided – and all these are really great candidates for TMP award for most annoying character – we recently saw A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Which reminded me why I find Ibsen’s female leads annoying and led to a discussion with John, who could not understand: he was rather content with accepting that Nora is a victim and hence cannot be annoying. But let’s take this a bit slower.
For my readers who have not read or seen A Doll’s House, let me recap the story.
A Doll’s House: the story
It is Christmas and Nora, a middle class Swedish young woman, has been shopping: presents for her three children and her husband. Getting back home, she meets her husband (Torvald) and they start chatting about:
- his promotion;
- the plenty of money this is going to bring;
- and that they still need to be careful.
What Ibsen puts out immediately is that these people have:
- different attitude to money: he is completely averse to any borrowing and she is not;
- relationship where he is in a paternal position and she is not even the child, she is a play thing;
- money is a major issue between them and he sees her as a wasteful child prone to whims.
Where the reader/spectator is supposed to get suspicious is that when asked what does she want as a Christmas present, Nora wants cash.
Why, becomes apparent a bit later. When visited by an old friend, Nora is desperate to be taken seriously and shares that she borrowed a lot of money to take her family to the South (remember, the action is in Sweden): she was told that her beloved husband will die is she fails to do so. Only problem is, that to borrow she would have needed her husband with her (or a signature of a responsible man) and he didn’t know about it.
She had asked someone else to help her!
So trouble begins; the guy who helped Nora borrow is known to have forged signatures. This is in the past but Nora’s husband decides that he will sack him. As can be expected the guy is not having it and goes to see Nora. During their conversation we learn that she has forged the signature of her dead father on the promissory note; which is obviously a crime.
The rest of the play is about the tricks and humiliation Nora goes through to keep her husband from opening the letter box and learning about this. But he does and reacts as the self-centred, controlling man that he is.
Well, this was finally the crisis that Nora needed; she saw through him (after almost a decade of marriage, no less) and left him; he was heartbroken. Oh, and she left her children.
Nora: why I find her very annoying
I find Nora incredibly annoying because she:
- was playing her husband’s game;
- allowed him to treat her like his play thing: victimisation always has two sides;
- didn’t have the courage to tell him about the loan she took (to save him);
- cheated to get the loan because it was easier than facing Torvald;
- I think, she thought that if she doesn’t play the empty-headed beauty, her husband won’t love her (which is dumb because this is not love anyway);
- spent her life in fear;
- thought only inside the box society had build around her (getting money from a rich man) rather than trying to break out of the box.
There is more but you get the picture. And yes, there was a lot of Northern European drama, psychological angst and suffering.
Annoying but still a masterpiece that makes one think and examines control through the relationship of the main characters with money, morals, love and silliness.
What is the take away?
For me, the take away is simple:
Never be a victim; have the courage to discuss difficult matters with your partner and don’t wait till there is a crisis.
Have you been in a situation when a partner has tried to control you through money?
So you’ve found the house you’ve been looking for. Enough bedrooms, right location, decent neighbourhood – and a price tag you believe you can afford.
What you need now is a mortgage. So how much is it likely to cost you?
You’ll need to think about your up-front costs and the ongoing monthly cost.
Here’s a look at some of the things you might end up paying for, when you arrange your mortgage (this list was provided by yourmortgagedeals.co.uk):
- Booking fee. A fee that reserves the rate and covers the cost of all the paperwork – you’d have to pay this when you apply (it’s usually around £100).
- Broker fee. A fee you pay a broker, if you use one (a company that does a lot of the legwork for you and helps you find a good deal).
- Product fee. A payment to your mortgage lender. A lot of mortgages that have a high product fee come with a low interest rate, so you’ll need to figure out whether it’s worth paying a fee to get that low rate. You might not have to pay this fee in one go (see below).
- Legal fees. A fee you’ll pay a solicitor, to cover the legal costs of buying your property.
- Homebuyer’s report. A survey that should pick up on any issues with the property.
- Stamp duty. Paid to HMRC – the more your property’s worth, the higher the rate you’ll pay (it’ll be a percentage of the property’s value).
The up-front costs you’ll pay can really vary, depending on how much your property’s worth, what kind of survey you want, what kind of mortgage you’re getting, whether that mortgage comes with a product fee – and whether or not you pay that fee up front.
A lot of mortgages let you choose how you pay the product fee. Instead of paying it up front, you might be able to add it to your mortgage – take out a £100,000 mortgage with a £1,000 product fee and you might be able to repay £101,000 over the next 25 years (or however long your mortgage runs for).
Just bear in mind that it’ll attract interest all that time, so it can end up costing you a lot more than £1,000 by the time you’ve paid it back.
Either way, once you’ve covered the up-front costs, you’ll need to make a mortgage payment every month, until you’ve paid off all the capital (assuming you’ve taken out a ‘capital repayment mortgage’, where you’re not just paying off the interest every month).
This normally takes 25 to 30 years – and once you’ve done that, the house is paid for!
Making sure you can afford your monthly payments is absolutely essential. If you fall behind on them, your property could end up being repossessed.
So you’ll need to think ahead and ask yourself whether you really can commit to those payments. Don’t forget to take into account any changes you can see coming (like getting married, having a baby, etc.).
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