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Wealth And Glamour In The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

1727 words - 7 pages

The Great Gatsby set in the glistening and glittering world of wealth and glamour of 1920s Jazz Age in America. However, the story of the poor boy who tried to fulfill the American Dream of living a richer and fuller life ends in Gatsby’s demise. One of the reasons for the tragedy is the corrupting influence of greed on Gatsby. As soon as Gatsby starts to see money as means of transforming his fantasy of winning Daisy’s love into reality, his dream turns into illusion. However, other characters of the novel are also affected by greed. On closer inspection it turns out that almost every individual in the novel is covetous of something other people have. In this view, the meaning of greed in ...view middle of the document...

As soon as Gatsby sees the pursuit of money as the only way to win Daisy’s love, his American Dream turns into self-justification of greed, namely greed as trusting in wealth (Malkmes 2011, p. 77). Later in the story in order to conquer Daisy Gatsby does everything he can to accumulate money, his greed takes the form of service and obedience to wealth. Upon achieving his goal he goes to great lengths to impress people with parties and luxury lifestyle even though he does not seem to like or enjoy it. In this view Gatsby’s ‘obedient’ to his wealth in order not to lose everything he has worked for. The example of Gatsby’s love for wealth given in the elaborate parties can be interpreted as a metaphor for material excess and corruption. The parties are attended by the nouveau riche guests who define Gatsby’s own personality through love of money (Hobby 2009, p. 74). Even though initially Gatsby’s greed for money is not the goal in itself and he trusts in wealth as the only means to win Daisy, his association with the individuals like Meyer Wolfsheim help to sustain his new identity of a greedy person. Meyer Wolfsheim’s greed takes the form of love and devotion to wealth and surprises the narrator by the boldness of the actions it inspires: “It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe” (Fitzerald 79). Another example of this type of greed can be found in the character of Myrtle Wilson. Even though she is abused by Tom Buchanan she holds on to this affair hoping to be admitted to the world of the rich and glamorous. Myrtle understands the way to the world of the wealthy aristocrats as accumulation of material possessions. As soon as she goes to her New York love nest with Tom she starts buying everything she sees including magazine, cold cream, perfume and even a dog. In this respect Myrtle displays insatiable and vulgar greed. For her greed is also similar to the worship of god “Mammon”. Myrtle is ready to sacrifice her self-respect and forgive Tom when he breaks her nose in order to become the ‘priestess’ of the god of wealth. Tom Buchanan displays a slightly different attitude to greed, for him it means trusting in wealth. This type of greed implies that a person places confidence in his or her possessions rather than in God or authorities (Rosner 2007, p.32). Since Tom’s “family were enormously wealthy - even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach”, he is not eager for acquisition or gain (Fitzgerald , p. 8). For him money symbolizes social status, wealth insulates him from the consequences of his actions. He answers to no one, even his wife does not question his behavior, money he has is enough to justify all his actions for the society and he is aware of this. Even the way he talks underlines his superiority: “There was a touch of
paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked and there were men at New Haven...

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