The Effects of Class Structure in the 1920's

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Class Structures in the 1920’s The emerging inequitable class systems and antagonisms of the nineteen twenties saw the traditional order and moral values challenged, as well as the creation of great wealth for few and poverty for many. The Great Gatsby, written by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, explores the causes and effects of the unbalanced class structures. Fitzgerald outlines the idea that the desire to accumulate wealth and status is a common ambition amongst the lower classes; when that desire is reached, the traditional upper class is challenged by the emerging newly wealthy, which finally leads to destructive consequences. By creating rigid class structures, traditional upper class, new wealth, and the poor in The Great Gatsby, it is shown that the desire to further or maintain socio-economic status leads to immoral behaviour such as criminal activity, adultery, and murder. By incorporating a distinct hierarchy into society, it creates the aspiration to accumulate wealth and status as a common goal amongst the lower class, yet also creates the desire for the traditional upper class to maintain dominance. Gatsby, at a youthful age desires to become a prosperous and wealthy man, the upper echelon of society. By becoming Gatsby, Gatz truly believes that he can leave his past and create a new class, the Great Gatsby himself: I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God — a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that — and he must be about His Father’s busin... ... middle of paper ... ...ruction. Consequently, the constant differing social status desires from each class leads to immoral and corrupt action. To conclude, by creating distinct class structures between the traditional upper class, new wealth, and the poor in The Great Gatsby, it is shown that the desire to maintain or change socio-economic status leads to immoral behaviours and corruption. The competing desires of the emerging class structure in The Great Gatsby cause destruction and loss of vitality to ensue. This eventually leads to immoral activities such as Gatsby’s bootlegging and murder, Wilson’s suicide, and the death of Myrtle. Fitzgerald warns with the emergence of punitive class structures and roles, unethical behaviour will fester which could lead to a polarized society if left unbalanced. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.

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