Money and Parties at the Great Gatsby

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Updated: Apr 13, 2022
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The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the novel, inequality between social hierarchies is the theme that is stand out the most. The three social classes in the novel are new money, old money and no money. He presents each social class in a way that gives the audience the idea that although there were great inequality in social hierarchies, the three groups share similar qualities of selfishness, betrayal, greed and arrogance.

Fitzgerald’s purpose is mainly to portray the reality of his time when the qualities that the three classes share eventually lead to the downfall of the American Dream. The new money class is represented geographically by West egg where Gatsby lives. Since the new money have only recently accumulated their wealth in the 1920s boom and once belonged to the lower class, they are seen as opposite of the old money. They are portrayed to lack of social graces and etiquette which they make up with lavish displays. They are also commonly thought to have acquired their money through criminal activities such as bootlegging which is Gatsby’s source of wealth. The lavishness of the new money could be seen in Gatsby’s extravagant mansion which is described as “factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy”. This mansion symbolized the grandness and emptiness of 1920s boom. It also symbolized Gatsby’s love and effort to get Daisy back to him. Gatsby used his new money to create a place that he thought could compete with the houses of the old money that had taken her away.

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The imitation of the famous French hotel also gives evidence to the new money desperately trying to enter the old money class, pretending to have a good taste. Another evidence for Gatsby’s lavishness is “On week-ends his Rolls-Royces become an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city from nine in the morning and long past midnight”. The fact that he owns a Rolls-Royces just to pick up his guest just adds to how lavish himself and his parties are. The lack of etiquette is shown though the description of the first party that Nick attends in chapter three. It was described as rowdier and rowdier and people get more and more drunk. Besides the the behavior at the parties, throughout the novel, Gatsby is never fully accepted into the old money social group despite all of his money due to the lack to knowledge and elegance that the old money are characterized as. The old money is represented geographically by West egg where Tom and Daisy Buchanan lives. They had accumulated their wealth before the 19th century, born to families with historical backgrounds, well-educated and elegant. Since they were born into wealthy families, they do not work and there rarely were descriptions of them talking about business in the novel. Most are descriptions of activities that they entertain and pleases them. For example, the description of the excessively luxurious Buchanan’s house and buying “a string of polo ponies” in chapter one. Also, the old money is portrayed as “buy [their] way in” to any situation, even marriage.

The evidence is when Tom married Daisy “he came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Muhlbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars”. This shows Tom’s attempt to impress Daisy and get her heart through the use of money. The old money is also portrayed as lack of true love and sympathy. The previous example of Tom giving Daisy that string of pearls is an example of him trying to use money to replace love towards Daisy, it also implied that he does not truly love Daisy, she is only a woman that suit him because of her family background. Also, Tom’s affair with Myrtle from the no money class could be another example for his greed and disloyalty toward his love, which link to the main theme of materialistic and corruption. In addition, the old money uses money to “remove” their guilt from hurting others. This is shown through Tom and Daisy moving to a bigger house far away purposely missing Gatsby’s funeral when they all know that actually Daisy was the one that killed Myrtle but Gatsby died because of her.

Lastly, Fitzgerald uses the no money class to show that although they do not have money, they share similar characteristics with the upper class. The interaction between Myrtle and Tom shows that the two social groups share similar qualities. The affair she have with Tom could be seen as her action of showing some sort of superiority compared to her husband just like Tom’s superiority to people who are inferior to him. For example the people from other races, ”It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things”. In addition, Nick who does not have money, his father and himself considers their family as having “advantages” that others do not have, sharing the similar characteristic of arrogance with the upper class. In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald vividly portrays the shared characteristics of selfishness, betrayal, greed and arrogance between different social groups which lead to the corruption and downfall of the American Dream.

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Money and Parties at the Great Gatsby. (2022, Apr 13). Retrieved from