Social Class In The Great Gatsby

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The "American Dream" supposedly allows everyone to climb the "social/economic ladder," if they wish to do so. Anyone that works hard is supposed to be able to move to a higher class. However, society often prevents social mobility. Social classes dictate who moves to a higher class and who does not. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this issue was especially prevalent. The rigidity of classes was often an underlying theme in many novels during this time period. For example, The Age of Innocence and The Great Gatsby both feature the exclusive nature of social classes as a motif. In both The Age of Innocence and The Great Gatsby, the rigidity of social classes and the desire for social mobility leads to the downfall of several Gatsby believes in the aforementioned "American Dream." Thus, Gatsby believes that money alone will allow him to enter the upper class. However, the unspoken truth of the "American Dream" is that class mobility requires money and the culture typical of the upper class. Gatsby becomes wealthy, but his lack of this culture prevents him from fulfilling his goal of social mobility. Writer Andrew B. Trigg discusses Gatsby 's inability to climb the social ladder: "culture provides a barrier to entering the top echelons of the leisure class" (Trigg.) Throughout The Great Gatsby, Gatsby 's lack of taste is evident, which leads to the upper class 's rejection of him. Gatsby repeatedly displays his wealth in excessive ways. Gatsby throws extravagant parties, buys flamboyant clothes, and purchases an opulent car and mansion. Throughout the novel, these displays of wealth are met by criticism from those that Gatsby is trying to impress. Tom Buchanan, Daisy 's husband, and a man of inherited wealth, detests Gatsby. In Chapter seven, Tom frequently criticizes Gatsby for his gaudy displays of wealth. First, Tom criticizes Gatsby 's car: " 'Come on, Daisy, ' said However, the rigidity of class prevents both men from achieving this goal. Both men become wealthy in an attempt to fit in with the members of the upper class. Both men flaunt their wealth in an attempt to impress the upper class. Both men obtained their wealth illegally, which ultimately led to their downfalls. Gatsby became a bootlegger to get wealthy while Beaufort used unlawful speculations. These crimes are dishonorable in both societies; thus, when both men are exposed as criminals, their reputations are ruined. Gatsby and Beaufort strive for social mobility. However, as seen in both The Age of Innocence and The Great Gatsby, social mobility is an unattainable goal due to the rigidity of

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