The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

October 19, 2012
By Abhinav Saikia GOLD, Plainsboro, New Jersey
Abhinav Saikia GOLD, Plainsboro, New Jersey
19 articles 4 photos 0 comments

The lust for money is an insatiable thirst that can never be quenched for the greedy and the corrupt. The masses dream of wealth while the rich aspire to gain even greater fortunes. Few have the guile, the cunning and the luck required to make it big. Most toil in obscurity, while a privileged few are born into the highest echelons of society. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald describes how nearly every level of society has been decayed by the influence of money whether it is from material excess or from the inequities of poverty.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan represent the epitome of the class known as the “old money”, a select social clan which is criticized by Fitzgerald for its superficiality and its emphasis on wealth. The couple has gained their wealth and privileged place in society through birth and has not worked for a single penny of their fortune. Consequently, their morals and perceptions about money are quite different from that of those who have toiled for their livelihood. Money is a trifle for them. Point in case; Tom gains the hand of Daisy by buying her an extremely expensive trinket. With this action, Buchanan displays the extent of his enormous wealth and also his credentials as a viable suitor. Fitzgerald conveys that social status and fortune have supreme influence in this elite society. Fitzgerald also highlights the egoism and uncompassionate nature of the couple and their class at large. These aristocrats insulate themselves with the protection of money and influence and become ignorant of the consequences of their actions.
Jay Gatsby rises from obscurity to become one of the richest and most influential people of his time, but he is hindered by his poor background and by his inexperience with the ways of the old aristocracy. Fitzgerald highlights how abhorrent the idea of modern wealth is to the aristocratic old guard. They have been wealthy for decades and they believe themselves to be the cream of society, refined and elegant. Upstarts who gain new wealth through toil are considered inferior and vulgar. Gatsby is a self made man who creates his own fortune in a relatively short time through hard work and a large amount of illegal business. His vast fortune however counts for nothing in the eyes of the aristocracy because of his lowly background. This attitude eventually causes the destruction of Gatsby’s one true ambition; to recapture the heart of Daisy Buchanan.
Gatsby dreams of a reunion with his beloved. He perseveres through hard years of sorrow and despair in the hope of one day being rich enough to be a fit match for Daisy. Sadly, however, Daisy’s priorities in life include not only wealth but other aspects as well such as education and the class behind the dollars. Her husband is better qualified in nearly all of these stations, despite of his cheating habits and racist mindset. Social status is far more important for Daisy than a devoted husband. Gatsby simply isn’t good enough for Daisy with his nonexistent pedigree. Fitzgerald implies that wealth and status are so ingrained into the lifestyle of Daisy that it is reflected in her every mannerism and even her voice. Gatsby eventually realizes that Daisy and her social class value materialistic gain far more than the simpler values of life such as love and loyalty.
The actions of Myrtle Wilson are highlighted by Fitzgerald in order to show the extent to which she will go in search of a new life far removed from her present impoverished conditions. The author utilizes Mrs. Wilson to convey the desperation and greed of many poverty stricken people. Myrtle married Wilson in anticipation of a better life but was disappointed by his inability to rise in status. Consequently, Myrtle cheats on her faithful husband without a second thought, enticed by the sophisticated, and more importantly, rich Tom Buchanan. He provides an avenue of escape for Myrtle, who blindly believes that such an ongoing relationship will better her status in life. She is blissfully ignorant of the fact that Tom will never desert his wife, who commands a much higher social position and far more wealth. Much like Gatsby, she is unaccustomed to the ways of the rich. Her selfish motives destroy her life as well as that of those around her. Myrtle’s death leaves Mr. Wilson inconsolable and eventually leads to his killing spree. The author highlights the emotional breakdown of Wilson in order to convey how corrupt and decadent money can make people. Fitzgerald’s use of the word “holocaust” shows the truly destructive powers of money and the tragic consequences it can cause.
Fitzgerald masterfully creates a society with three distinct groups that each struggle with the flaws of money. Regardless of class or background, wealth and the quest for power consumes many of the author’s characters with vengeance. Corruption and decadence reign supreme in a world where vices are valued more than virtues.

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