The Great Gatsby Essay

1684 words - 7 pages

Class distinctions often determine actions. People who believe themselves as better than others will strive to garner, or even just associate themselves with, wealth in order to feel omnipotent. Through the classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, film Washington Square, based off the novel by Henry James and cover of the October 12th, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, the authors show that money will result in perversion. Because some people have delusions of superiority, they are more likely to be corrupted by money as its power appeals to them. It is only those who are humble and do not desire the power money bestows who can remain uncorrupted.
Tom Buchanan, Doctor Sloper, and the woman from the cartoon all boast their “superiority” over others. Tom, a man of “old money” (family wealth), owns a home that indicates his status to all who pass by. Described as a “Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay” (11), the home is located in East Egg, the more “fashionable” place where “White Palaces... glittered along the water” (10). Nick even mentions that Tom is one of the few men of his generation who was rich enough to own “a string of polo ponies” (10). Tom, along with being ostentatious, uses force to assert his power over those who are not wealthy like him. This is foreshadowed from the beginning of the novel when he asks Nick if he read The Rise of the Coloured Empires. The title alone indicates that it is a novel that only a power-hungry and egotistical man would read. Even his wife refers to his as a “brute of a man” (16). However the reader does not get a true feel for his barbarity until the great fight in his apartment. The small New York City loft located on 158th street serves as a meeting place for Tom and secret his lover Myrtle (132). Although Myrtle received her own apartment, its location so far uptown indicates that Tom will never let her truly be a part of his “old money” world. The fight is instigated by Myrtle, who starts to repeat Daisy’s name in front of guests. Tom becomes enraged and “making a short deft movement Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (41). Throughout the novel, noses are used to represent status. By breaking her nose, Tom reminds Myrtle that she will never be able to hold it up in the air, as she will never represent “old money”. Tom’s ego, fueled by profit, would lead him to disrespect others in order to achieve a false sense of security and superiority.
Doctor Sloper, rather than using pure force like Tom, looks down upon those who are not as affluent as he is. The entire of the plot of the film is centered on Dr. Sloper’s belief that Morris Townsend does not deserve his fortune. Since he is from one of the “inferior branches” (17:43) of Townsends, Dr. Sloper treats him like a greedy and undeserving peasant. The doctor is convinced that Townsend is looking to rob Catherine of her future fortune; however it is Doctor Sloper who is truly corrupted. Rather than paying attention to...

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