F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1836 words - 8 pages

F. Scott Fitzgerald uses The Great Gatsby in order to display the wretchedness of upper-class society in the United States. The time period, the 1920s, was an age of new opulence and wealth for many Americans. As there is an abundance of wealth today, there are many parallels between the behavior of the wealthy in the novel and the behavior of today’s rich. Fitzgerald displays the moral emptiness and lack of personal ethics and responsibility that is evident today throughout the book. He also examines the interactions between social classes and the supposed noblesse oblige of the upper class. The idea of the American dream and the prevalence of materialism are also scrutinized. All of these social issues spoken about in The Great Gatsby are relevant in modern society. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses this novel as an indictment of a corrupt American culture that is still present today.
First of all, Fitzgerald points out the flawed morals and lack of individual ethics and responsibility in the time period. The character who best exemplifies the decay of morality and rise of personal irresponsibility is Tom Buchanan. He is not faithful to his wife, Daisy, and carries on an extramarital affair with another woman. In general, many characters in the novel, such as Myrtle’s sister Catherine, see no issue with Tom’s infidelity. The respect for the bonds of marriage is not present. While that is heinous enough, Tom even shows that he is not even slightly guilty about his actions. This exposes his sub-par ethics. Tom has no true sense of right and wrong. His lack of ethical ability is so dramatic that Nick eventually remarks that he views Tom as a child. He deliberately shows his mistress off to Nick, and shows no remorse about his actions. He does not even have the kindness to attempt to hide his misconduct from his wife. During an evening meal, the telephone rang several times. Everyone at the meal knew it was Tom’s mistress, but Tom does nothing to attempt to cover up the phone calls. Tom is blind personally to what is right and what is wrong. There is no conscience within him. These same loose morals and lack of ethics can be found in today’s society. One high-profile example of this is former United States President Bill Clinton. He held the highest office in the land, yet he had an extramarital affair. Also, there is substantial evidence that he lied under oath about his infidelity. The fact that he lied about his affair shows that his personal ethics are not good. It appears that morals in today’s culture are just as shoddy as those during the 1920s. Affairs appear common in the 1920s, and according to a recent survey, 22% of married men and 14% of married women have cheated on their spouses (Watson 1). The lack of morality and personal responsibility was rampant during the period in which Fitzgerald wrote the novel and is still present today.
Another flaw in society that Fitzgerald indicates is the disparity between the supposed noblesse oblige of the...

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