Social Mobility In The Great Gatsby

836 words - 3 pages

This essay discusses the role of social mobility in The Great Gatsby. It argues that not all people can reach the highest social class, this is a class you must belong to from the beginning of life or marry in to. However, the characters are living the American dream which makes social mobility to the other social classes available. The essay addresses the American Dream, the difference in social class between the main characters and how some social mobility is unreachable.
There are two frames of values for social mobility in The Great Gatsby. One is the old values where origin is the most important feature for social mobility, this will be discussed with the theorys of Pierre Bourdieu. The other is the new values that the American dream where whoever can work its way up the social ladder, this will be discussed with help of Gwendolyn Foster.
The origin of wealth is a key factor for deciding which social class each character in The Great Gatsby belong to. Jay Gatsby is the character who made the greatest social mobility. The other characters use him for his parties and hospitality but they do not consider him as an equal. This is something that is evident particularly on page 66 in the novel when Gatsby tells his story to Nick Carraway, the novel's narrator, and Nick describes Gatsby's phrases as so threadbare they lack credibility. No matter how much money Gatsby makes he is never going to be good enough for either Daisy or the other characters.
Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan these are the three main male characters. These men hang out a lot in the novel, even though they are not from the same social class. Tom Buchanan comes from a socially solid old family and he is very wealthy. Nick Carraway's family is described as once prominent so he is still belonging to the upper class because he comes from the right family. However, he is not as rich as Tom and Daisy. Gatsby on the other hand has a lot of money but lacks the right origin. This proves that the right origin is more important than how much money you own.
The American Dream is the idea that hard work is going to make your life better irrespective of your origins (www.loc.gov). Gatsby symbolises the American dream. He was a man without own assets, but through hard work he becomes a man of fortune. Foster uses the...

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