"The Great Gatsby" - A Critique of Capitalism

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, can be read as a critique of capitalism. Fitzgerald created a world where class and money are the essence of everyone’s desire. The plot and the settings of unfolding events in The Great Gatsby are perfect examples of structures of capitalism, along class lines, which allows for a Marxist capitalist critique. Even though Fitzgerald wasn’t a socialist or Marxist himself, he shows in his book how capitalism creates and alienates different social classes. Class levels in the US of the 1920s are very prominent – the rich class is drastically separated from the poor class, and the rich class wishes to keep it that way. This is an essential problem of capitalist theory and Fitzgerald criticizes capitalism throughout his book. According to Carl Marx, the economic base is the primary determining factor in all social relations and formations and he named it as a superstructure or ideology. An ideology articulates what and how people think about society and themselves. It is a part of the superstructure generated by an economic base that works to signify the way people live out their lives in class society, giving people the terms, ideas and images that tie them to their social functions (Klages, Literary Theory pg.128, 129).In the book Tom and Daisy born-in upper class, George and Myrtle Wilsons a working class family and Jay Gatsby with his dream to step up in the upper class. The poster children of upper class undoubtedly are Daisy and Tom. Their relationship can be described as an obsessive quest for money and aimless existence. It’s easy to imagine them young and loving each other and seeing Tom carrying his wife over a puddle on the street so she won’t get her shoes wet. Tom was... ... middle of paper ... ... just part of his class status to exercise his power and the promise to sell his car to Wilson was just a bribe to keep Wilson at bay while he was playing with his wife for his pleasure. In the end we see Gatsby and Myrtle dead, Wilson turned into murderer and Tom with Daisy continuing their live of unhappy wealthy people. Using Marxist critique of the capitalism, we see Fitzgerald showing how economic base of capitalism is juxtaposed to its core of free market and in fact it actually produces class separation and injustice. People with money and power will strive to become richer and more materialistic, thus increasing the distance between themselves and the poor class. Even when someone reaches the upper class by earning money and visually polishing himself to appear like an aristocrat, the wealthy will still reject him for not being born into the upper class.
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