What do you think of the view that obsession with money and the new consumer culture of the 1920s dominates human thinking and behavior in ‘The Great Gatsby’?
One of the key themes in The Great Gatsby is ‘The morality and importance of Wealth’ in high end New York social circles of the 1920s. Fitzgerald himself lived during this period of significant culture change in America and therefore I feel his own feelings and concerns on obsession with money and the new consumer culture was one reason as to why he wrote this novel. He begins by establishing this theme through Daisy and Tom. Daisy’s voice often has references to wealth: “Her voice is full of money”. The synecdoche here represents Daisy herself as an object of desirability and high status. Daisy represents perfection to Gatsby because she has the wealth, class, charm and sophistication that Gatsby has wanted all of his life. The life that they lead seems to lack direction and meaning, the couple drift unrestfully to wherever people “were rich together”. This shows that their behavior is dominated by social conventions of consumerism, it is important for them to be seen with people like themselves. Although Daisy has such a privileged life style her face is “sad”, here Fitzgerald is commenting that money cannot buy happiness or true fulfillment. In chapter 2 Fitzgerald creates a gothic vision, using bleak descriptions of the waste land that lies between the two eggs. Fitzgerald uses ashes as a way to symbolize the impure, dim and dirty lives that the rich lead: “ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys” which “ash grey men” inhibit (if you come to close to them it can become harmful). The desolate waste land is an industrial dumping site and I feel Fitzgerald uses it as a device to contradict the world of beauty glamour that its creators live in. It is a way of showing the darker, less glamorous truth of the new consumer culture as the vast amounts of waste create such an unpleasant sight. This...
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