Shallowness of the Upper Class
One of the main themes of The Great Gatsby , by Scott Fitzgerald, is the shallowness of the upper class. This idea of shallowness is expressed frequently through the main characters Daisy and Tom. They are occasionally compared to the other two main characters Gatsby and Nick. The story takes place in 1920s America in Long Island, New York during prohibition. Prohibition was a time period where alcohol was made illegal, but if you were part of the upper class it was more a joke than a law. Through Fitzgerald’s writing, the reader is able to observe the difference of selflessness not only between the upper and lower class but also between the people living in the West Egg compared to those in the East Egg. The Great Gatsby is symbolic of life in the 1920s America. It resembles the way in which people gained their happiness through materials. Although The Great Gatsby portrays a love story between a man and a woman the main theme of the novel is much more than that. The main theme of The Great Gatsby is the shallowness of the Upper class.
One reoccurring example of the difference of classes is shown between the East egg and the West Egg. The West Egg, where the narrator Nick lives, represents the newly rich like Gatsby and Nick. The West Egg is explained as less tasteful than the east; “I lived at West Egg, the- well, the less fashionable of the two.” (5). People living in the West Egg also seem to lack taste but have much bigger hearts than those living in the East Egg. For example Gatsby compared to Tom. Gatsby lives in a fabulous mansion while Tom lives in a very elegant home. Gatsby is kind while Tom is very far from that. The East Egg represents the people who have had money, like Daisy and Tom. It is believed to be the classier of the two eggs; “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water” (5). People living in the East Egg have good taste but no heart. For example, Tom and Daisy both dress elegantly but lack the heart to even pay their respects at Gatsby’s funeral. There are major differences between the upper class of the West Egg and those of the East Egg.
One of the main characters Tom is an excellent example of an upper class man from the east egg. Tom also is an excellent example of a man from the East Egg who has good taste but no heart. Tom has been used to living elegantly all his life. For example Fitzgerald writes; “His family were enormously wealthy-even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach.” (6). Tom is so used to the ability of money that he does not realize how much he hurts other people. For example he buys Daisy beautiful things and provides for her but he openly has an affair with Myrtle; “I had no sight into Daisy’s heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game”. (6). Tom is so heartless that he does not realize that buying Daisy gifts is not showing his love for her. He also fails to treat anyone below him with little respect. For example on page 7 in the text Tom says; “just because I’m stronger and more of a man than you are.” Toms character is an example of a very shallow man in the upper class.
Another fine example of a shallow upper class East Egg citizen is Tom’s wife Daisy. Daisy may have more of a heart than Tom but she till is negligent to realize money is not happiness. To begin, she married Tom strictly for his money: “By next autumn she was gay again, gay as ever. She had a debut after the Armistice, and in February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans. In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the say before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued three...
Bibliography: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York 1925).
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 10 June 2013.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Great Gatsby.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 7 Jun. 2013.
"prohibition." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 1 May 2013.
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