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Great Gatsby And The Influence Of Money And Greed On Characters

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Money and corruption in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"

During the time in our country's history called the roaring twenties, society had a new obsession, money. Just shortly after the great depression, people's focus now fell on wealth and success in the economic realm. Many Americans would stop at nothing to become rich and money was the new factor in separation of classes within society. Wealth was a direct reflection of how successful a person really was and now became what many people strived to be, to be rich. Wealth became the new stable in the "American dream" that people yearned and chased after all their lives. In the novel entitled the great Gatsby, the ideals of the so called American dream became skewed, as a result of the greediness and desires of the main characters to become rich and wealthy. These character placed throughout the novel emphasize the true value money has on a persons place in society making wealth a state of mind.

The heart of the whole notion of wealth lies in the setting of the novel, the east and west eggs of New York City. The west egg was a clustering of the "Nouveau riche" or the newly acquired rich, and the east egg was where the people who inherited their riches resided. The eggs divided the people rich in two with the poor being limited to the middle, the "valley of ashes". Even the way the narrator, Nick Carraway, describes the two communities' gives off a feeling of superiority. Nick describes the east as " the less fashionable of the two, through this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them" (Fitzgerald, pg. 9) When discussing the other he states" Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East egg glittered along the water..." (Fitzgerald, pg. 10)

This divide would not only be apparently in appearance of the two communities and their geographical locations but the divide was also present in the actions and attitudes the character possessed. The East eggers such as Tom and Daisy looked at the West eggers like Gatsby as if there were some kind of flaw in the system that just by luck they were considered wealthy. The west eggers on the other hand would do anything to be looked at as equal as their foes. The whole idea that inherited money meant more then earned money was more important then if you even had money at all. Tom, when realizing the lust that Gatsby and daisy were hiding for each other, was angrier at the fact that she would associate let along long to be with someone from the "west egg". This whole notion of the expectations that the East eggers had for the wealthy and rich society of New York were constantly strived toward by the west eggers driving some, such as Gatsby mad with greed and corrupting both societies from the inside out. Gatsby constantly strived to lead a rich and glamorous life to impress people like the long time wealthy such as daisy, corrupting him form a young age which he carried throughout his whole life.

This greed can be seen first and foremost in the appearance of the main character, Jay Gatsby. The author utilizes the characters possessions and appearance to evolve his personality and eventually reveal his tragic flaws as the main character. Gatsby's Mansion, his car, and the lavish parties that he throws are all symbolic in some way or another of the wealth that Gatsby possesses. It is this wealth and his desires that lead to the corruption that engulfs all the characters and ultimately Gatsby death. Every aspect of his character, his appearance, his mannerisms, and his lifestyle in some way or another lends to the basis of what Gatsby desired to represents and what is at the heart of the "American dream"; the desire to be wealthy. "The contrast between the lively debauchery and Gatsby's lonely isolation hints at the true purpose of the parties and the concealed nature of the man's passion." (Gibb, pg. 1) All of his lies and even the aspect of his life that are true all circle back to his desire and passion to be rich. His lies all create an alternate life and give his companion Nick Carraway and other a false identity of Jay Gatsby.

Not only has this corruption and obsession infected Gatsby, but this diseases has spread to other character as well. In an article entitled "possessions in the great Gatsby", the author Scott Donaldson states "Given an opportunity, Gatsby consistently errs in the direction of ostentation. His clothes, his car, his house, his parties-all brand him as newly rich, unschooled in the social graces and sense of superiority ingrained not only in Tom Buchanan but also in Nick Carraway." (Donaldson, pg. 2) The aspects of greedy and wealth at the heart of this novel, were not only buried in Gatsby's character, but one could say that this desire was shared. Nick Carraway moved all the way from the west to New York City in search of wealth in the Bond Business to quench his desires of wealth and fortune. Tom Buchanan, in essence foreshadowed how greed and wealth can skew ones own values corrupting morals. Myrtle, Tom's mistress let greed skew her morals as well thus ruining his marriage and let her jealous rage get the best of her.

Wealth and money lend an ideal of "no boundaries" or responsibilities to the main character. The idea that because these characters are so rich and wealth that they are almost untouchable not only by the law but these characters in many ways give off the attitude that common morals and human values are not applied to them. For example, in an article featured in The Washington Post entitled "Nothing Great About This 'Gatsby'", the author, Megan Rosenfeld quotes straight from the novel "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . ." (Rosenfeld, pg. 2) Tom fells no remorse towards any of the characters who's lives have been shattered by his self-centered actions. His affair with Myrtle completely destroys her marriage resulting in her untimely suicide. During the affair Tom strikes Myrtle, with no



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