Great Gatsby Essay- Social, Critical, Gender Lens

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Gender role Pages: 5 (1901 words) Published: April 21, 2013
Society as Seen Through the Novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Well-lit streets discourage sin, but don't overdo it.”-William Kennedy. The 1920’s were days of carefree living, American dreaming, and wishful thinking. Society differed from just ten years before hand, and society was moving forward with the new changes. However the day to day living of this American dream was nothing but a sin in the making, and the crash resulted with immoral thoughts, harsh gender roles, and the split between the wealthy and poor. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel that goes underneath all the party, carefree living, and brings out the deeper meaning of society at the time. The author provides the reader with a writing piece that exemplifies the greed and ignorance of the upper class people, the power of the male sex over the female, with the exception of love, and the moral thoughts that stuck to people in the 1920’s.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing brought out the deeper meaning of the difference between the wealthy and the poor and how ignorant, greedy, and carefree the upper classes really were during the 1920’s. Their actions and behaviour during the parties that Gatsby had thrown were a glimpse of the ignorance, greed, and carefree living. “I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited- the [just] went there” (Fitzgerald 41). Nick comes out saying that he feels as if he were the only one who was actually invited to the party, unlike the other hundreds of people. Being the most honest person within the novel, the reader realizes how greedy and ignorant the people of the 1920’s may be. These people come to the party to have a good time for themselves and not to have a good time with the person throwing it either. Their carefree attitude is revealed when they break the stuff within the house at the party and make themselves at home as if they know the owner of the house on a personal basis. With no care in the world for Gatsby’s possessions, the party goers reveal a side of them that was seen as sociably acceptable amongst the upper class. A second example of greed, ignorance, and carefree within the upper class in the novel comes behind the character of Tom. Tom’s attitude, personality, and the vibe around him help illustrate this greedy, ignorant, and carefree behaviour. With all the money in the world he had inherited at such a young age, it is clear Tom has no worry in the world of what people may think of him or what he does. His carefree behaviour is seen with his behaviour to his wife and his unfaithful action, his ignorance towards others with his words, and the way he thinks of himself. “We were in the same senior society, and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own” (Fitzgerald 7). For Nick to even feel as if he had to be approved of liking Tom, shows the type of person Tom truly is. His ignorance in his thought and attitude makes him believe he has the social power due to his money to think he can approve if you may be friends and like him. It shows that Tom only really likes Nick because of the fact that he is lower in class then him and does not have any threat to Tom’s overall power in wealth. These two examples help support Fitzgerald’s message of the greed, ignorance, and carefree behaviour that existed amongst the rich who had money, or thought they had money, in society during the decade of the twenties.

Gender played a substantial role in the power in the 1920’s, and Fitzgerald showed this through his writing; how the male role had an upper hand on the woman, with the exception of Gatsby’s love for Daisy. Throughout the novel it is clear that the male gender almost always has the power over the female role. The male characters in the novel, such as Tom for...
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