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"The Great Gatsby" A Critique Of Capitalism

1159 words - 5 pages

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, can be read as a critique of capitalism. Fitzgerald created a world where class and money are the essence of everyone’s desire. The plot and the settings of unfolding events in The Great Gatsby are perfect examples of structures of capitalism, along class lines, which allows for a Marxist capitalist critique. Even though Fitzgerald wasn’t a socialist or Marxist himself, he shows in his book how capitalism creates and alienates different social classes. Class levels in the US of the 1920s are very prominent – the rich class is drastically separated from the poor class, and the rich class wishes to keep it that way. This is an essential problem of capitalist theory and Fitzgerald criticizes capitalism throughout his book.
According to Carl Marx, the economic base is the primary determining factor in all social relations and formations and he named it as a superstructure or ideology. An ideology articulates what and how people think about society and themselves. It is a part of the superstructure generated by an economic base that works to signify the way people live out their lives in class society, giving people the terms, ideas and images that tie them to their social functions (Klages, Literary Theory pg.128, 129).In the book Tom and Daisy born-in upper class, George and Myrtle Wilsons a working class family and Jay Gatsby with his dream to step up in the upper class.
The poster children of upper class undoubtedly are Daisy and Tom. Their relationship can be described as an obsessive quest for money and aimless existence. It’s easy to imagine them young and loving each other and seeing Tom carrying his wife over a puddle on the street so she won’t get her shoes wet. Tom was a gentleman and a caring man, but the weight of time and access to power and money changed everything. In the beginning of the book, Fitzgerald shows Tom as a racist man with belief that lower class will take over and he doesn’t want that. He believes that white rich people should stay where they are. Tom is a follower of a book The Rise of Colored Empire - written by Goddard. This book was very important in the 20s. In the 20s, the US economy had a significant boost in growth. People spent more and eventually turned into materialists, that’s when race relations went from bad to worse. While talking to Nick about this book, Tom said that, “It’s up to us, who are dominant race, to watch out for these other races will have control over things….if we don’t look out the white race will be utterly submerged" (13).
Though Tom dislikes with great intensity everyone who is below him, he has a lover on the side – Myrtle. Myrtle is the wife of George Wilson, an owner of a car repair shop and a gas Station. An interesting fact is that Daisy is well aware of this fact and doesn’t make any noise or complain about it. She behaves like nothing is happening in her family. It became apparent how she functions in life, when she...

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