Wealth and Class in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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In ‘The Great Gatsby’ Fitzgerald criticises the increase of consumerism in the 1920s and the abandonment of the original American Dream , highlighting that the increased focus on wealth and the social class associated with it has negative effects on relationships and the poorest sections of society. The concept of wealth being used as a measure of success and worth is also explored by Plath in ‘The Bell Jar’. Similarly, she draws attention to the superficial nature of this material American Dream which has extended into the 1960s, but highlights that gender determines people’s worth in society as well as class. Fitzgerald uses setting to criticise society’s loss of morality and the growth of consumerism after the Great War. The rise of the stock market in the 1920s enabled business to prosper in America. However, although the owners of industry found themselves better off wages didn’t rise equally, causing the gap between the rich and poor to grow markedly. Parkinson argues that the settings “represent [these] alternative worlds of success and failure in a modern capitalist society”. The valley of ashes symbolises this failure and moral decay, acting as a foil to the affluent “world of success”, East Egg, and highlighting that the lower classes must suffer to support its existence. This setting is introduced in Chapter 2 and is described as where “ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens”. The personification of the environment creates the sense that these failures are rooted in the land, suggesting that poverty is an inescapable part of American society. This is emphasised through the use of tripling which creates a sense of endlessness. By describing the men who live there as “crumbling through the pow... ... middle of paper ... ...of a materialistic society The English Review Vol 18 No 3. Journal Stocks, C. All men are [not] created equal: F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby The English Review Vol 17 No 3. Journal Leck, R. (2004) Gatby’s Gorgeous Car: Objects and the Outsider in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fiction ‘Nick Carraway as an Unreliable Narrator’ Kent Cartwright. Papers on Language and Literature 20.2. 1984. Pg 218-232 Evertt-Nowlin, M. (2007) pg 200, William Rose Benet Saturday review of Literature Forward, S. (2013) The Great Gatsby; following the dream The English Review. Volume 24 No 2. Journal Bewley, M. (1954) Scott Fitzgerald’s Criticism of America. [Online] Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27538346 Will, B. (2005) ‘The Great Gatsby’ and the Obscene Word [Online] Available at: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25115310?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103869336503

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