Examples Of Materialism In The Great Gatsby

analytical Essay
1019 words
1019 words

Ewan Dietsche Lewis 11 10/16/16 The Destruction of the American Dream: How Rampant Materialism Disassociates Wealth from Greatness Fitzgerald illustrates rampant materialism to demonstrate social stratification and the ultimate decline of values and nobleness surrounding the American Dream. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s lifestyle and Nick’s constant awareness of the wealth around him to demonstrate the uninhibited pursuit of wealth in 1920’s America. During Gatsby’s life, getting rich was an end that justified most means. For instance, Gatsby broke the law by bootlegging to become wealthy. When Tom tries to expose Gatsby during their fight over Daisy, he says, “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in …show more content…

That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong” (133). For Gatsby, wealth became far removed from hard work or individual ideas, rather a facade of artificial success and meaningless achievement. Gatsby turned to crime in order to achieve wealth, illustrating how he values a “wealthy and sophisticated” image at any cost. He seeks to show the world his wealth: he drives a very expensive car, lives in a huge mansion, wears expensive clothing, and has servants. These lifestyle choices just add to his image, giving his character no depth. Nick illustrates the rampant materialism in a slightly different way. Throughout the novel, Nick notices and cherishes symbols of wealth around him and idolizes wealthy individuals. Describing the “fashionable” East Egg, Nick says, “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water” (5). The language “white palaces” paired with “glittered along the water” illustrate Nick’s glamorization of and heightened focus on both wealth and class. East Egg’s population consist of the …show more content…

At Gatsby’s parties, nobody interacts with him, knows him personally, or even receives a personal invitation. The party lacks meaning on a personal level, and serves only to confirm one’s class. Describing his parties, Nick says, “At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains” (39). Gatsby’s parties exist to attract socialites and wealthy individuals. Their attendance at parties where they neither know the host nor receive an invitation, illustrates their superficial desire to feel a part of a wealthy and elite class. For example, activities like “diving from the tower” or “an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city” demonstrate a shallow, short-sighted, desire for pleasure and extravagance. Furthermore, parties like these allow the wealthy to feel unified by their money, perpetuating their feelings of superiority. For example, Fitzgerald writes “Instead of rambling this party had preserved a dignified homogeneity, and assumed to itself the function of representing

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the novel illustrates rampant materialism to demonstrate the ultimate decline of values and nobleness surrounding the american dream.
  • Analyzes how fitzgerald uses gatsby's parties to illustrate how the uninhibited pursuit of wealth leads to social stratification.
  • Analyzes how fitzgerald uses the butler's nose and the valley of ashes to highlight the negative consequences of the 1920s american dream.
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