The Great Gatsby Essay

985 words - 4 pages

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, the reader is able to interpret the major socio-economic classes represented in Marxist Theory. Fitzgerald connects character actions and class status to a Marxist representation of the socio-economic structure of 1920’s American society.

Bourgeoisie, as defined in our text: “Those individuals who have accumulated wealth and influence through their control of factories, business, and other highly profitable enterprises” (74). “The Bourgeoisie have continued the aristocratic tradition of exploiting the labor of others and ensuring their own wealth through practically every means” (74). It is easy to say that both Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby fall into the bourgeoisie category; however, we see that Gatsby comes from a lower social status –proletariat- climbing the economic ladder from poverty to reach his extreme level of wealth. Tom Buchanan was born into his money. “A national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy- even in college, his freedom of money was a matter of reproach” (6). This quote gives a sense of the general demeanor of Tom Buchanan and can lead to implications and assumptions of his lifestyle and personality, as well as his feelings about his wealth and social status.

However economically similar Gatsby and Buchanan may be, there are obvious differences between the way Gatsby and Buchanan view their economic situations and the emphasis they place in money. Gatsby sees money as a means to get Daisy back into his life. The lavish parties, the huge house, and eccentric lifestyle, these are all for Daisy and what Daisy represents to Gatsby. “She was the first “nice” girls he had ever known. In various unrevealed capacities he had come in contact with such people, but always with indiscernible barbed wire between” (148). This quote demonstrates two main points: what money and socio-economic status mean to Gatsby, and it also shows what Daisy represents to Gatsby. Socio-economic prestige provides Gatsby the means to win back Daisy. Daisy symbolizes a life that Gatsby never knew due to his “inferior” role in society. He sees a life in Daisy that American society emphasizes as a good, true American life. To Gatsby, Daisy is a life that is unattainable without high ranking class status.
Tom Buchanan sees his socio-economic prestige as a right that he was born into, and sees himself as a superior person to those who are beneath him both economically, and, in-turn, socially. Money and social status have bankrupt Tom Buchanan morally; he feels his place in society as a rich, powerful person is a birthright. Tom Buchanan feels he can do almost anything he wants to a lower class, and during this time period, who is of a lower class then...

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