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Greed in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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Gatsby and Greed


In this day and age, money is a very important asset to have. One needs to have at least enough to live on, though great amounts are preferable. In The Great Gatsby, by Thomas F. Fitzgerald, having a large amount of money is not enough. It is also the way you acquire the money that matters. Gatsby and Tom both have a lot of money yet Daisey picks one over the other, not because of the difference in the amount they have, but because of the manner in which it is attained.

To the main characters in the book, money is everything. Tom, Gatsby, and Daisey are all consumed by money and its prestige. Gatsby uses his money as a tool to lure Daisey back into his life by giving her a tour of his possessions inside and outside his house. Because Daisey seems to fall in love with Gatsby again, it shows that she was not really in love with Tom, it was his "old" money that she is truly in love with. Money is important to Tom and Daisey because it makes them feel superior to those who have less. All of these characters have been corrupted by their greed but the one person that has not is Nick, Daisey's cousin. He is nice enough to help Gatsby with Daisey out of friendship, not for his money.

In the book, money symbolizes a social evil as it destroys lives of people corrupted by wealth. In the first chapter, Fitzgerald treats money as if it was a cookie cutter for social classes and tells how wealth divides the society into different groups. For instance, East Eggers have "inherited money" whereas West Eggers have newly acquired money. Tom is an example of an East Egger who has "prestigiously" inherited quite a lot of "old" money. Gatsby is a West Egger who by boot legging, swindling and doing favors for others, has acquired "new" money.

The difference between social and economic classes is best demonstrated by the comparison between Tom and Gatsby. Tom was born an East Egger, which was something that Gatsby could never achieve. No matter what he did, he would always be a West Egger. Although Gatsby could have been an economic equal to Tom, he would never be a social equal.

Gatby's downfall was thinking that if he became a rich man, Daisey would love him. Daisey did not ever really love him because no matter how much wealth he had, he was from a different social class. Tom hated Gatsby both for loving his wife and for trying to be his social equal. He was able to get his revenge on Gatsby by convincing the enraged Wilson that Gatsby had purposefully killed Myrtle. In the end, it was Gatsby's failure to recognize his place in their society that led to his murder.

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