The Religion of Money in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby -

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The Religion of Money in The Great Gatsby Near the beginning of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, Mr. Undershaft exclaims in retort of another's question, "well, I am a millionaire, and that is my religion" (Shaw 103). Many people look toward the heavens in search of the power to enable them to live in the world. Others, like Shaw's Mr. Undershaft, look toward more earthly subjects to obtain their power and symbolize their status. Often these subjects, such as money, wealth, or physical beauty and ability, give their owners an overbearing sense of power and ability in all of that they do. Some people become so obsessed with their materialistic power that it becomes their religion and leads them in everything that they do. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the character of Tom Buchanan is introduced and portrayed as someone who has allowed his physical abilities, money, and wealth, become his religion and lead him in his actions, perceived thoughts and beliefs, and speech. Nick, the first person narrator of The Great Gatsby, introduces Tom as a "national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax" (Fitzgerald 10). In college at New Haven, Tom relied on his physical abilities, as "one of the most powerful ends that ever played football" (Fitzgerald 10), as well as inherited wealth to give him the power and prestige to be perceived as better than the best. In the beginning of his college career, as Nick seems to suggest, it was this supreme physical ability on the football field that allowed Tom to have supreme reign over all off the field. But, after college, the football legacy ended, and with it, Tom'... ... middle of paper ... ...lected to "make a short deft movement [that] broke her nose with his open hand" (Fitzgerald 41) rather than admit that the other party could do something without his explicit permission. From his first introduction early in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby to the end of the second, Tom strives to constantly remind everyone around him of his power through his actions, thoughts, and speech. Like royal subjects loyal to their king, he believes that everyone is under him and should respect and obey his every wish. Through the mastery of Fitzgerald's poetic hand, a character has been created to which wealth has become a religion and god has become a personification of himself. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner-Simon, 1992. Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion and Major Barbara. New York: Bantom Books, 1992.
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