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Class In The Great Gatsby And Pride And Prejudice

1713 words - 7 pages

In his novella 'The Great Gatsby', F. Scott Fitzgerald presents class as a personal and definite thing, illustrating how attempts to change your class will lead to tragedy. Jane Austen, in her novel 'Pride and Prejudice', uses class as a criticism of society. Her portrayal of class differs from Fitzgerald's as she presents the idea that class restrictions, while rigid, do not determine one's character and can therefore be overcome. Both novels explore their views on the segregation of classes through the circumstances in the time periods they are writing about.

Nick Carraway tells us from the start that he’s tired of the dramas of the upper class. By saying he wants 'the world to be in ...view middle of the document...

However, another interpretation of this is that Gatsby simply thinks Daisy's voice 'jingles' like money when she talks.
Fitzgerald uses Tom to show how stagnant the people of 'old money' are compared to those of 'new money', even though they all upper class. He does this through Tom's racism and sexism. Sexism was prominent in the 1920s, despite women starting to get some of their rights. One interpretation of Tom is that he bullies women, and he thinks that 'woman run around too much'. This shows the stagnancy of 'old money' and contrasts with the freedom woman have at Gatsby's parties. Tom believes that 'if we don't look out the white race will be -- will be utterly submerged'. The fact that he believes "It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved." emphasizes the ignorance of the upper class.
Fitzgerald portrays the differences between people of 'old money' and people of 'new money' and also shows the opinions of ‘old money' on 'new money'. Claire Boulter in Advanced Level English Text Guide - The Great Gatsby states that 'Gatsby's behaviour is contrasted with that of the East Eggers'. This is evident in chapter 6; Gatsby is courteous, welcoming the riders and offering refreshments. The East Egg community accept his generosity but “without gratitude”. Nick realises that Gatsby thinks “they cared!”, and the exclamation mark indicates Nick's contempt for the selfishness of the upper-class.
Fitzgerald also presents the idea that the working classes are vulnerable to the whims of the upper class. Through the sudden assault of Myrtle where Tom 'broke her nose with his open hand', Fitzgerald demonstrates that the lower class have no control over what the upper class do because Myrtle had no way to stop what happened. The use of this short sentence also shows the measures Tom will go to put Myrtle in her place, which portrays his view that the higher classes are superior to the lower classes. Fitzgerald emphasizes this idea through Myrtle’s willingness to do whatever Tom orders her to do. Tom tells her to 'Get on the next train'; the use of the imperative verb 'get' and the fact that it is not phrased as a question shows that this is not a request, but Myrtle is happy to do what Tom wants because his class.
Social status also moulds the characters happiness with their social situations. This is also shown through Myrtle. She idolizes the upper class and allows this to affect her identity, demonstrated the mimicking of Daisy’s furniture in her apartment. It can be argued that Myrtle falls in love with Tom because he is of a higher class and wears 'a dress suit and patent-leather shoes', which is contrasted with Wilson who is happy to borrow 'somebody's best suit to get married in'. Fitzgerald uses clothes as a way to portray Myrtles fixation with class and social status.
By Fitzgerald making Nick Carraway a first person modified narrator, the story can be clear as several different viewpoints can be shown and the reader can make sense of the story...

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