The Great Gatsby

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 223
  • Published : June 14, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Seminar Essay
The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

While reading the classic novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the reader can clearly see how this story can be viewed through the Marxist Lens. Through tales of trial and desperation, the story reveals what can happen when money and social class come into play. The author clearly portrays how the American dream can cause people to lose sight of the important things in life, and how people always want to make it to the top, no matter who they have to step on during the way up. Living in post-war America, the character’s visions are quickly clouded by greed and their egocentric desires, and tragedy strikes when lust and passion mix with sinful desires. Marxist literary criticism is the critical lens used to differentiate between social classes in literature. The Marxist lens pays close to attention to the literary works forms, styles and meanings, in a way that the reader can comprehend them and apply them to a particular history. In this specific situation, The Great Gatsby effectively displays the difference between social classes, and how these people act as individuals, and as a whole social group. On the very first page of the book, there is a quote from the narrator’s father that says: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”. This quote pretty much sums up the whole Marxist theory. Though people may belong to various different social classes, every single person on this planet has had different experiences and opportunities, and everyone is different in their own way. One of the first characters the reader is introduced to is Tom Buchanan. Tom is a: “sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face, and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward … you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body.” (Pg. 7) By the sounds of things, it seems like Nick (the narrator) doesn’t particularly like Tom, but Nick is also fascinated with him. Tom is a fascinating kind of guy. Like Daisy, he's got something that everyone else wants: he's got power. Tom's family is rich. Not just well-off like Nick's family, and not inexplicably rich like Gatsby, but noticeably wealthy, with a long family history of money. And he does extravagant, crazy things with it, like bringing "a string of polo ponies for Lake Forest". That may not seem like much, but in today’s society, that would be like buying a private jet: it's a pretty flashy move, and it’s only ever done to prove that they can do it. In a sense, Tom is just as flashy as Gatsby. Tom, on the other hand, has something you can't buy. You might call it arrogance: “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions”. So essentially, thanks to the money and family that he came from, Tom was born to live a certain lifestyle, one where he would live a certain way and marry a certain type of woman Tom’s wife, Daisy, is a beautiful young woman from Louisville, Kentucky. She is Nick’s cousin and Gatsby’s “long lost” love. As a young lady in Louisville, Daisy was extremely well known among the military officers and soldiers stationed near her home, including Jay Gatsby. Gatsby lied about his background to Daisy, claiming to be from a wealthy family in order to convince her that he was worthy of her. Eventually, Gatsby won Daisy’s heart, and they made love before Gatsby left to fight in the war. Daisy promised to wait for Gatsby, but in 1919 she chose to marry Tom Buchanan, a young man from a solid, aristocratic family who could promise her a wealthy lifestyle. After this happened, Gatsby was determined to win Daisy back. He made her the priority over everything in...