Marx and Fitzgerald

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Marx and Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous Pre-Depression-era novel The Great Gatsby reveals perceptive commentary on the dangers of capitalism through the title character Jay Gatsby. Nick Carraway, who has recently moved to the West Egg district of Long Island, narrates the tale of Gatsby, the marvelously wealthy neighbor he befriends and whose ultimate destruction he observes throughout the novel. The overpowering obsession with money and social status that pervades the characters and their society can be linked to Karl Marx's theories of capitalism. Marx's actual economic fact explains the devaluation of men as a result of the "increase in value of the world of things." Jay Gatsby places high value on achieving material wealth and social status, but he loses his identity, his soul, and eventually his life in his struggle to win the affections of Daisy Buchanan and to prove himself to be something more than "new money," making him a creature of capitalism much in the same way as the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a creature of the Enlightenment.

Significant similarities can be found in the characters of Gatsby and the monster created by Victor Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, Shelley critiques the Enlightenment belief that reason and science alone can combat the problems of the world to make it a better place. A creature of science, the monster suffers from the neglect of its need for acceptance and love. A creature of the process of earning and spending money, Jay Gatsby becomes consumed in his effort to rise in social status. The monster strives to be fully human as Gatsby strives to become rich and powerful. However, both end up alone in the end, with Victor disowning the monster in Frankenstein, and Nick being the only attendee at Gatsby's funeral after Gatsby was murdered in The Great Gatsby.

Marx's explanation of some elements of capitalism and their relation to Gatsby and the society he exists in are also important in...
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