America is a place where the old caste system is abandoned and freedom to do anything and be anyone is taken to a new extreme. In the 1920’s those who were born into wealth looked down on those who had just acquired it. The old rich had high-class traditions, which the new rich lacked. The old rich also did not trust the new rich made evident as Tom says to Nick “ a lot of these newly rich people are just big bootlegger, you know.”(Fit.114). Old rich people were educated and polite while the new rich were just looking for a good time.
The richest people of America continuously receive the largest tax breaks. Due to this unfortunate process, the rich stay wealthy while the poor pick up the extra taxes, staying in deep poverty. “Americans find themselves mired in the same place as their parents” (Class and the American Dream). It is more difficult now to rise up on the class ladder than it was in Gatsby’s era. Gatsby came from nothing, he rose from poverty by chance.
The False Reality of the American Dream in the Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel that has a large focus on the ideas of the American Dream and social class in the 1920s. In the novel, the people of West Egg and East Egg are people of the upper who have earned money either through inheritance or working hard and have had many opportunities to make their American Dream a reality. The people of the Valley of Ashes are people of lower class who have little to no money and have to work all their lives to make ends meet. Even though both social classes strive for the same thing, The American Dream, neither of them will ever truly achieve it. Fitzgerald uses a vast contrast in the settings of East Egg, West Egg, and The Valley of Ashes to display the reoccurring theme of a pre-set social class and to expose the false reality that the American Dream presents upon society.
At the time, it was extremely desirable to be old money, because people looked at new money as vulgar and uncivilized. By illustrating social-economic class differences, Fitzgerald depicts the illusion of the corrupted American dream. Old money, living in the guise of the American dream, denies the entrance of new money and the lower class into their social hierarchy. In the novel, Tom has a mistress who lives in the "valley of ashes," where most of the lower class citizens reside. Tom has been seeing her for years even though he married Daisy.
During his numerous years of wondering and world travels he falls upon his green light, Daisy. It seemed he was so fixated on accumulating his wealth for her that at one point “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far … he was trembling” towards his green light. (pg 24) At this point Gatsby, is new money, people who struck it rich and were so close to the elite that could almost reach the top. New money even today is usually viewed as reckless and immature, nothing is a better example of this than the extravagant parties thrown at Gatsby’s. He may have been buying attention, but it was never the attention he desired, Gatsby seemed to try to use money to solve all problems and fix everything.
Wealthy people have been admired in society for a long time but in reality many of the things that rich people did in the early 1900’s led to social and moral decay in America. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes about a specific example of this in an area of New York City that is split into two parts called West Egg and East Egg. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the 1920’s as an era of decline in social and moral aspects of America by using many characters and themes such as the Valley of Ashes, Jay Gatsby’s parties, and Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship. The Valley of Ashes represents the collective deterioration that is a result of the rich community’s lifestyle. Immoral behavior is shown at Jay Gatsby’s parties in the poor behavior of the guests and the illegal activities there.
Fitzgerald’s experience with going from wealthy to bankrupt influenced his writing in that he emphasized on the unfair separation of the low and high class. In many of his works, Fitzgerald associated money to life and strength. Mizener writes, “Somewhere very deep in his imagination that complicated tangle of feelings he had about the rich interlocked with his feelings about the delight of vitality and the horror of its exhaustion” (Mizener 275). Mizener examined Fitzgerald’s true fascination with wealth and fame as well as his simultaneous disgust with its evilness. One striking difference between Gatsby and Fitzgerald is that Fitzgerald was an alcoholic while Gatsby was always sober.
The consumerism in the 1920s paved the way for a changing life style and attitude over money and spending in America. Many Americans acknowledge that we, as a society, spend too much money, but this does not stop us from wasting millions of dollars on products and services that we never use. It is true that consumerism has some positive effects, such as improving the economy, creating more employment opportunities and increasing the standard of living. However, the over spending and excessive wasting associated with consumerism result in an unhealthy craving for goods, decreased value of spiritual and moral values and excessive greed; all of which plague American society. The end of World War I ushered in a new era of prosperity and steady economic growth in the United States.
As the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpass more noble goals the American Dream reaches its ultimate corruption. In America during the 1920’s, anyone from any social background could potentially make a fortune. However the American aristocracy, that is the families of old wealth, scorned the newly rich. The novel represent... ... middle of paper ... ...e to the depths and breadth and height.” It is not physically possible to love someone in such a way. However, by describing her love for R. Browning like this she is positioning the reader to realize the intensity of their relationship.
Old money families had fortunes dating back from the 19th century or earlier and also had built up influential and powerful social connections over period of time. The second class would be “new money” which was represented by Gatsby, even though he was wealthier than the Buchanans he had to work for his wealth and fortune therefore he is part of a lower class than the Buchanans. The “new money” class made their fortunes in the 1920’s boom era and had no profound social connections and would basically make up for that neglected aspect by lavish displays of their wealth.On chapter 1, page 2 Nick Carraway says, “When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction—Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.” In this quotation it is seen that Carraway is making an observation on Gatsby and saying that even though Gatsby may be lower class, or lower than the Buchanans Nick manages to see something of goodness in him. He thinks that maybe Gatsby has the "natural decencies" that other people of higher society, such as the Buchanans don't.