Marxist View of the Great Gatsby

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: February 16, 2011
The Great Gatsby- Marxist Readings Tabatha Turner In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of The Great Gatsby, he creates an artificial world where each character’s sole purpose in life is money, and the essence of desire is wealth. It is clear within the text that the characters feel as if they are totally limited by the amount of money they make, therefore, their view of being satisfied and achieving in life is depicted against their financial status. Poverty limits decision and action. The novel is set in the 1920’s when the newly founded ‘American Dream’ was being strived for, the idea that if one worked hard, they would ‘reap’ the rewards, no matter their surname or beginning in life. Gatsby is especially partial to his materialistic values. Although Gatsby is capable of having wealth, he does not possess the full status that others do of ‘living the high life’ as he is being used for his money and spoken about unkindly, ‘somebody told me that he killed a man once’. Gatsby’s sense of wealth is unnatural and he puts too much effort into trying to make his life greater. It is suggested that Gatsby’s attitude developed in this way when Daisy did not marry him because of his poverty, ‘rich girls don’t marry poor girls don’t marry poor boys’, Daisy not being limited by poverty at all. Fitzgerald has incorporated both sides of the financial spectrum within the novel, as Nick Caraway and the Wilsons are certainly not secure. Nick’s house, lack of symbolic wealthy materials, and lack of social standing reflect his life; Fitzgerald shows this by constantly juxtaposing Nick with Gatsby, ‘old-money‘and ‘new money’. The Wilsons are an example of how the ‘American Dream’ was not always the case to an extent, as George works extremely hard yet does not achieve the supreme life, and still lives in the epitome of darkness, the ‘Valley of Ashes’. No matter how much George strives for the easier and modern life, he will never fully succeed; this is symbolised in the entrapment of Myrtle, she is physically, mentally and financially trapped. It is by the categorisation of characters that Fitzgerald develops strong societal classes and an in-depth plot of the attempt at the American Dream. Although each character in The Great Gatsby is attempting to pursue the ‘American Dream’ by being financially and socially accepted, it is evident that some of them are responsible for their material circumstances, and for some it was purely an accident at birth. Gatsby, since a young age had the soul principle that he would live a successful and wealthy life, it was his goal in life, and how he got to where he stands in society at the end of the novel. Although rumours are spread about the whereabouts of where Gatsby’s money comes from, it is always evident that no matter what is being said or what Gatsby suggests, he has earnt all of his money himself and therefore is responsible for his status, ‘he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy was likely to invent‘. Daisy is also responsible for her wealth but in a different way, she has earnt her money by marrying well, a goal which she also had from a little girl. Jordan is the ultimate example of the new women; she juxtaposes other stereotypes of women from the age and presents a more masculine figure which is the new century figure. Jordan holds full responsibility for her wealth as she pursues a career of being a professional golf player, which was not the typical ways of women in the 1920’s, therefore Jordan was looked down upon by some. On the other end of the spectrum lies Nick and Tom, whose financial status in society was purely an accident at birth. Tom was born into his greatness and therefore shows little humanity or care for those who work. Nick is poor, which is symbolised through his material possessions, extraordinary views of the rich, and his small yet comfortable house...
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