In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald critiques a variety of themes of the American Dream — honesty, authority, avarice, treason, the American dream, and so on. Out of all the themes, none is more well developed than the theme of a social hierarchy. The Great Gatsby is considered as a brilliant piece of social narration, offering a descriptive look into American life during the 1920s. Fitzgerald carefully sets up his novel into unmistakable groups but, in the end, each group has its own problems to deal with, leaving a robust reminder of what a hazardous place the world really is.
By creating specific social classes; old money, new money, and no money. The author can send powerful messages about the egotistical personality running throughout every level of society to the reader. The Great Gatsby is an American novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and it is set in New York during the 1920s. The 1920s, also known as the Roaring Twenties, was a period in American History where people had the opportunities to reinvent themselves and make massive amounts of money. Fitzgerald describes this perfectly in his novel through the characters portrayed within it.
Throughout the novel the reader notices how social classes are determined by inherited wealth and that money is the epicenter of the characters’ lives. The Great Gatsby is a classic novel that demonstrates how money can buy expensive materials, but cannot provide happiness. The very first social class Fitzgerald attacks is the rich. For many of those of simple means, the rich seem to be unified by their money. However, Fitzgerald exposes the fact that this is not the case. In The Great Gatsby, the author declares two recognizable types of wealthy people. First, there are people like the Buchanans and Jordan Baker who were born and inherited a assive amount of wealth.
Their families have had money for many generations, so consequently they are classified as “old money. ” As depicted in the novel, the “old money” have the luxury of not having the need to work and they spend their time entertaining themselves with whatever they desire. Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and the distinct social class they embody are reasonably the novel’s most egotistical group, striking divergence on the other people of wealth. This distinction between the rich is based solely on where the money came from and most importantly, when and where the money was inherited.
For the “old money” group of people, the fact that Jay Gatsby has just recently obtained his money is reason enough to be disgusted with him. By the way this groups thinks, he can’t possibly have the same clarification, emotion, and desire they have. The “old money group” cannot possible accept Gatsby because he has a low-class background and to make things worse he works for a living. In a multitude of ways, the upper class of society are right. The “new money” people cannot be like them. Since the social elite are subjunctive and one-dimensional they are unable to acknowledge the nature of others.
Instead, the “new money” people live their lives in such a way as to conserve their sense of dominance. The people with newly obtained wealth aren’t necessarily much better than the people who have inherited their wealth. Think of the people who attend Gatsby’s parties. They show up to his parties, drink his liquor, and eat his food, and never have the audacity to meet the host of the party. When Gatsby dies, every single one of the people who infected his house every week strangely became busy somewhere else, deserting Gatsby when he could no longer do anything for them.
One would like to imagine the “new money” group would be a little more sensitive to the world around them. Fitzgerald proves that their only concerns are about living in the moment. Just as he did to the people of money, Fitzgerald also uses the poor people with very little or no money to convey a strong message. Nick, even though he comes from a family with a little bit of wealth, doesn’t have nearly the finances of Gatsby or Tom. In the end, though he shows himself to be an noble, trustworthy and respectable man, which is more than Tom show cases. Myrtle, though, is another story.
At the best Myrtle comes from the middle class. She, like many others, is trapped in the valley of ashes, and spends her days desperately trying to make it out. In fact, her want to move up the social strata leads her to her affair with Tom and she is clearly satisfied with the arrangement. Because of the hardship overspread in her life, Myrtle has distanced herself from her moral duties and has no challenge cheating on her husband when it means that she gets to live the lifestyle she wants, even if it’s only for a little while. What she doesn’t understand is that Tom and his friends will never accept her into their circle.
Tom has a pattern of picking women from a lower-class to sleep with. For him, their feebleness makes his own position that much more superior to him. In a strange way, being with women who yearn to be in his class makes him feel better about himself and this allows him to preserve the illusion that he is a good and important man. Myrtle is nothing more than a toy to Tom and to those he represents. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is the symbol of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams. It is a symbol that represents everything that haunts and attracts Gatsby.
In this case it is not only the physical distance between him and Daisy, but also the emotional distance. It could also be regarded as the gap between the past and the present. Also the color green can be represented as money, which is something many of the characters crave. In fact, the color green shows up everywhere in The Great Gatsby. The sound for Long Island is green; George Wilson’s exhausted tired face is green in the sunlight; Michaelis describes the car that kills Myrtle Wilson as light green (even though it’s yellow); Gatsby’s perfect lawn is green.
The symbolism of green throughout the novel is as fickel and conflicting as the many definitions of green and the many uses of money. “Gatsby has faith in the green light, the indecent future that year by year fades away before us. It evaded us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run farther, stretch out our arms farther…. ” (Fitzgerald 149). Another controversial symbol in the novel is the East and the West. Most of the characters in the novel all originate from the West. This is because during the 1920s millions of American traveled West to restart and work hard for money.
And also during the 1920s there was a tock boom Which attracted many from the West to the East. The division between the eastern and western region of the United States is imatated in Gatsby by the divide between East Egg and West Egg. Once again, the West is illustrated as the frontier of people making their wealth, but these Westerners are as hallow and fraudulent inside as the Easterners. “I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them…
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening | drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago” (Fitzgerald 14-15). The novel depicts the West as a place where the hard-working people reside and the east is represented as a very luxurious place where the wealthy live. Fitzgerald has a sharp eye and in The Great Gatsby depicts a harsh picture of the world he sees around him.
The 1920s marked a time of great post-war economic growth for America and Fitzgerald captures the hysteria of the society extremely well. They have assumed bias worldviews, wrongly believing their survival depends on stratification and supporting social boundaries. They incorrectly place their faith in superficial external means, such as money and materialistic possessions, while deciding not to encourage the compassion and sensitivity that, in fact, separate humans from the selfish, greedy, and egotistical animals. As Gatsby does it in the novel, one must hope for the best as we continue to live our lives.