Money and Manners in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald follows Nick Carraway when he moves East into New York and becomes entangled in a deadly circle of greed and jealousy. Nick is pulled into a love triangle between his distant cousin Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom, and the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby, who lives next door. As Nick and his neighbor develop a strange comradeship, information begins to surface about Gatsby’s past that show his deep infatuation with money, appearances, and his first love, Daisy. When a tragedy involving Tom’s mistress Myrtle Wilson occurs, the novel delves into the connections between dreams, hope, power, and status- all things that eventually lead to misery for Nick. Throughout this book, Fitzgerald reflects on a few themes, namely the effect wealth has on his characters, as well as how their lives were destined to fail because of expectations and entitlement. Each problem, limitation, and fear these characters have revolves around one thing- money. Fitzgerald makes the strongest case for the theme of “wealth is power and power corrupts” in his novel The Great Gatsby.

In this book, the author accentuates the parallel between money and manner. When the characters are considered on a spectrum, a clear pattern emerges: Tom and Daisy are from old money and have a lot of it, Gatsby is from new money and has a lot of it, Nick and Jordan are from moderate to wealthy means, and everyone else is very poor, including the Wilsons. The mannerisms and personalities of the characters have a direct relationship to this spectrum. When Nick talks to Daisy for the first time in the novel, he describes how she acted as if she belonged “in a rather distinguished secret society” and that she was insincere (Fitzgerald 17). Tom...

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...ether that be in jobs, crime, or inheritance, pulled all of these characters from the simplicity of Western life into their downfall.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby brings to light some aspects of humanity that most are not wiling to admit- greed, jealousy, envy, obsession- and shows how they can bring about tragedy. Between Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby, money is the only real love. This book shows how human character is flawed and corrupted by power and status; it shows how people affected by the disease can start deadly chain reactions. Though this novel explores themes related to the West and East and the American Dream, both of those concepts trail back to the root theme, that money means power, and power corrupts. As Myrtle Wilson’s sister says, “My dear... most of these fellas will cheat you every time. All they think about is money” (Fitzgerald 31).
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