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Criticism of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

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Criticism of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

 
    In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates an artificial world where money is the object of everyone's desire.  The characters, the setting, and the plot are very deeply submerged in a Capitalism that ends up destroying many of them.  Fitzgerald's criticism of Capitalism can be seen as a move to subtly promote Socialism, an ideology in which value is placed on the inherent value of an object rather than its market value.  In a late collection of notes, Fitzgerald himself proclaims that he is "essentially Marxist." [i]   Marxism is a specific branch of Socialist theory.  Fitzgerald makes Gatsby a novel that is not inherently Marxist or even Socialist, but one that is imbued with Marxist theory.  He does this by denouncing nonhumanitarianism, reification, and market value.  Fitzgerald implies that the Capitalist system does not work because at the end of the novel, all of the characters that represent typical American Capitalism end up either dead or completely unhappy.  Fitzgerald's criticisms work to warn 1920's Americans of their behavior and how destructive it can be.

 

 

Marxists believe very firmly in humanitarianism; they believe that as humans, we should look out for each other and care for each other, because we are all essentially on the same level.  All of the characters in Gatsby nullify this idea, because they all use each other.  For instance, Gatsby uses Nick to set up a meeting between he and Daisy.  The characters also place very little value on individual human beings or on humanity as a whole.  Each character is too wrapped up in him/herself that he/she does not take the time to care for others.  Class levels are pr...


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Fitzgerald, F. Scott.  The Great Gatsby.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Lewis, Roger.  "Money, Love, and Aspiration in The Great Gatsby."  New   Essays on The Great Gatsby.  Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.  41-57.

Posnock, Ross.  " 'A New World, Without Being Real': Fitzgerald's Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby."  Critical Essays on Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.  Ed. Scott Donaldson.  Boston:  GK  Hall and Co., 1984.  201-213.

 

 

 

Notes

[i] Fitzgerald, F. Scott.  The Crack Up. 

[ii] Lewis, Roger.  "Money, Love, and Aspiration in The Great Gatsby."  P. 51

[iii] Posnack, Ross.  "'A New World, Material without Being Real': Fitzgerald's Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby." P. 202.

[iv] Ibid., p. 203.

[v]   Ibid., p. 206.

[vi]    Ibid., p. 208.

 


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