Many of the characters in “The Great Gatsby” can be identified under several societal classifications. “The Great Gatsby” tells a tale of the 1920’s, where many defied Prohibition, indulged in new styles of dancing and dressing, and rejected many traditional moral standards. Individualism and a greater emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure and enjoyments became a popular practice among many. As moral standards and traditional values declined, the American stock market soared to unexpected heights. Many became increasingly rich, which in The Great Gatsby are defined as “new money.” Beyond the economic classifications exemplified in The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker claims that society of this time can be characterized as “Only the pursued, the pursuing the busy and the tired.” Throughout the novel many of the main characters fit in to these specific categories. Although this novel is a story of America in the 1920’s, the various roles of the characters presented closely relate to the characterization of modern-day society.
The pursued among society strongly represent the role attractive women play, both in 1920’s and today. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald presents the role of pursued women through a superficial, socialite beauty of the 1920’s by the name of Daisy Buchanan. Daisy is a woman of physical beauty, wealth, and poise. As a young woman in Louisville before the war, Daisy was courted by a number of officers, including Gatsby. After returning from the war Gatsby centers his life solely on pursuing Daisy, even after her marriage to Tom Buchanan. Gatsby invests his money into a large estate across the water from Daisy’s home, and throws lavish parties in hopes to attract and impress her. Finally in chapter six Daisy attends one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties. Half way through the night her husband Tom Buchanan orders her to leave. Gatsby is dejected at the thought that Daisy did not have a good time at his party. He depressingly confesses to Nick, “She didn’t like it… She didn’t have a good time...I feel far away from her… It’s hard to make her understand.”(Page. 109) Throughout the novel he wants so desperately to impress her, and finally when he gets the chance to show off, the outcome is unsatisfactory. Yet Gatsby continues to pursue Daisy for the majority of the novel. Likewise, in today’s society men pursue attractive women on a daily basis, as if it is there second career. If Daisy were placed in today’s society she would be a woman in the upper economic bracket: the typical Beverly Hills type mom, a woman of mere physical beauty, married to the older man in respected business, who is exceptionally wealthy. These upper echelon women of today are pursued in the same fashion the women in the 1920’s were; they are lured in by the glorified successes and wealth the man holds, and are showered with gifts.
In order to have the pursued, there must be those who pursue. The pursued are most often women, yet the pursuing in life are not necessarily men. In society the pursuing are those who are reaching for the pursuit of happiness, most often women, wealth, or power. In “The Great Gatsby,” the title character Gatsby, who comes from an impoverished background, is in pursuit to become astoundingly wealthy. Though Gatsby longed to be rich, his main motivation for his wealth comes after he meets Daisy. When he meets Daisy he falls in love with her life of luxury. He then crafts his life exclusively for the attainment of wealth in order to impress Daisy. Throughout his life he gains his wealth through participating in organized crime, such as bootlegging and trading in stolen securities. Once his profits are gained he moves to East Egg in order to be closer to Daisy. He throws extravagant parties in hope of luring her over. Time and time again she is absent at his parties, so he crafts a new plan for casual meeting with Daisy. He makes sure everything is perfect, in order to satisfy her standards. He buys...
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