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The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

2597 words - 10 pages

Unfortunately, there always will be a class system. People are constantly being judged on what material possessions they own or just being judged outwardly. Society has come to accept being classified and yearning for the top spot. No matter where you go people seem to form classes or cliques, begging the question as to why we feel the need to constantly rank ourselves according to society’s standards. Novels are good representations of these rankings because you then get to look at this silly idea from the outside looking in. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald examines class distinction in the 1920s and how it affects one’s ascension to higher social classes in order to achieve the American Dream.
In The Great Gatsby, one setting we are introduced to is the valley of the ashes, which is in between East and West Egg. There you will find Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan’s mistress, along with her husband George, who owns the gas station where Nick first meets them. There is a great representation of the American dream in Myrtle. Myrtle has a very strong personality and she knows what she wants out of life. She strives to be a part of the higher classes like Tom and Daisy, but it is unattainable. She pursues the “American dream” to the point of obsession. The first thing she does when Tom takes her to their place in the city is change her dress, along with purchasing the town gossip magazine (Fitzgerald 31). Myrtle wants to be Daisy, she wants that rank in life. She changes her clothes to try and fit that mold because she is greedy and unsatisfied with her life. On the other hand, her husband, George, is very happy with where he is in life. He is very naive in thinking that Myrtle is faithful and happy. When Nick asks what Wilson thinks Myrtle does, Tom goes as far as to say, “Wilson? He thinks she goes to see her sister in New York. He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive,” (Fitzgerald 30). In juxtaposition to Tom, Wilson has achieved his dream of marrying Myrtle and owning a successful business. Wilson loved Myrtle with all of his heart and she did not reciprocate those feelings. She explains that she married him because she thought he was a gentleman but soon found out that “he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe” as she puts it (Fitzgerald 39). Myrtle was not set on marrying someone for love, she wanted power and position. The marriage between Myrtle and George was complicated because he was in love with her and she was in love with money and power and would do anything to achieve that.
Throughout the novel there was a very evident divide between old money and new money. Old money was well respected, while new money was seen as scum to the old money folks. Many people were not aware of how big the gap was between these two groups. Monica Wheelock and Jonathan Roberts explain this concept further in depth in their article “The Not-So-Roaring ‘20s”, in which they say, “America is often presented as a homogenous society that is either “doing well” or...

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