Morals in the Great Gatsby

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The Consequences of Immorality

One of the most popular classics in modern American Fiction, The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald takes place during the 1920's; a time of prosperity, wild and hedonistic lifestyles. The Roaring Twenties was a time of change and the opportunity for self determination. It was during this time that social and moral values were drawn away from society, and towards immoral behaviour. The predominate theme of immorality can be seen through the character development of Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. Although both engage in degraded actions and at times appear to be equally immoral, in reality there are differences in their character. They are not equally immoral; in fact there are examples of virtue particularly in the case of Gatsby. As a result, these two characters are compared and contrasted. Through the acquisition of wealth, the evident infidelity and the absence of a conscience in the characters lead lives filled with moral degradation. The views and achievement of wealth among Tom and Gatsby reveal the pervasive actions that are taken place. Fitzgerald provides insight into Tom's character with the moral issue of racism presented at the beginning of the novel. While Tom reads and comments about the book “The Rise of the Coloured Empires” he states, “It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things” (Fitzgerald, 18). This allows readers to conclude Tom is a racist and white supremacist, for he believes the “Nordic” race is the dominant race and anything else comes below it. These beliefs are parcel with the high social class Tom belongs to. He is a rude and arrogant character whose attitude derives from his great inherited wealth, traditionally seen in East Egg. On the other hand, Gatsby does not inherit his wealth. Gatsby lives in West Egg, a neighbourhood established by new money. He is a classic example of rags to riches. It is discovered later on in the...
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