Summary and Analysis: the Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby is a 1920s novel based off of characters living the American Dream. The main character, Jay Gatsby, has a growing love for Daisy Buchanan, who has contradicting thoughts over a life with Tom, her husband, or with Jay. Daisy married Tom because she feels that the money he was born into will not fade, and Gatsby is nouveaux rich, and therefore is not backed by the family wealth Tom can provide. Jay Gatsby is known throughout the novel for throwing extravagant parties, with the intent to capture Daisy’s attention. Eventually, his attempt is successful and he soon reunites with Daisy, but still falls short of her love. Regardless of the fact that narrator Nick Carraway exposes Tom to the audience, for the infidelity that he carries on throughout his marriage, Daisy is aware of Tom’s affair, and she chooses to remain married to Tom, for the sole reason that he is a man with money. The power of money is a recurring motif in The Great Gatsby and remains an ever-present aspect in today’s society.
In the novel, Daisy finds herself facing the decision; remain married to Tom for the money that he was born into, or marry her true love, Jay Gatsby. Despite her authentic feelings for Jay, Daisy goes against her heart and chooses Tom, because with him she would live a comfortable life with an abundance of stable money. Even though Gatsby worked his way up into having money, he was only able to grab Daisy’s attention, not her commitment. Gatsby’s money gave him the ability to host extravagant parties, and have material things that would give him a prosperous appearance. With Jay coming up from a lifetime of poverty, he did not obtain the power that Daisy was looking for in a partner. Fitzgerald unveils the truth that comes with wealth: Money is Power. Had Gatsby come from an affluent upbringing, the story would have ceased to exist. However, his lack of generational money left him powerless to conquer Daisy’s desires, and in turn, allowed for a money centered love triangle. On the flip side, the strong hold that Tom maintained on Daisy can be traced back to his family inheritance. Readers can see that had Tom lacked the capacity that comes from fortune, Daisy would not have stuck around.
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Daisy, Tom, and Jay’s love triangle is not the only relationship overcome by the power of money. George Wilson lacks the money needed to satisfy his wife Myrtle, and it is this absence of power that enables Tom to take advantage of his own monetary status and participate in an affair with Myrtle. Tom’s ability to manipulate people is based on the depth of his pockets and not on the depth of his character.
Tom is a man that lives his life running on money, and this is an aspect that negatively inspires his character. In chapter 7, readers learn that George has discovered the affair, although he is not aware of Tom’s involvement, he responds, My wife and I want to go West(Fitzgerald 123). Unfortunately, he does not have the funds needed to accomplish this, and is therefore powerless, not only save his marriage, but inevitably to prevent his wife’s death. The power of money motif drenches the pages of the novel and this is just another example of how.
The roaring twenties was an age that America was on the come up. The countries wealth percentage was rising and having money was beginning to become more popular. New social groups began to form and one of the most popular ones were the flappers. These were girls that smoked, drank, wore short skirts, and carried out actions said to be ‘unladylike'(The Roaring Twenties). These women had the ability to live a more free lifestyle with scandalous clothes and bold actions because their money was powerful. With money they could afford birth control to lower the probability of them having a child, washing machines to easily keep their clothes clean, and cigarettes and alcohol for the nights they wanted to go out.(The Roaring Twenties)
People rising to wealth in the twenties was important to the era because it brought Americans together even as race and class divided them(Kyvig). This specific example shows just how fast money became such an overpowering aspect to the world. In a time that race was a major current issue, it was overlooked when it came to money and class. Educator Kristine Tucker explains that The combination of increasing racial pride and long-standing racial hatred led to a tension-filled decade, known as the Roaring Twenties.(Tucker) In a society that specifically judged by race, turned their eyes to money in the blink of an eye.
Flash forward to today, money remains power over anything else. An education, a family, a roof over one’s head, and to have food, are all things accessible at one cost, which is money. A study from researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School have came to the conclusion that spending money on time results in the largest increase of happiness. Their studies found that across the range of incomes, jobs, and countries, using services that help you save you time (such as paying someone to run an errand for you) leads to less stress and more positive feelings than purchasing material objects(Bellamy). While time is an inevitable concept that consumes money daily, it goes to show that without wealth, people have nothing. Money remains power in America, and throughout the world every minute of the day.
In the twenties, individuals who obtained great amounts of money held much power socially. Things were much more cheap, and it wasn’t a burden to lack financially. Today, wealth is a different kind of power. In present day society, money is the most important aspect to life – without money, people are left with nothing. Many individuals are used for their money, while in the novel the role is reversed. Tom is sure of himself because of the power of his money and this allows him to use others, like Daisy and Myrtle.
Today, wealthy individuals are obligated to pay more tax money, resulting in the aid of people who can’t afford hospital bills, food, etc. Without money accumulated by the upper class, the lower class would lack important lively things. Impoverished individuals rely on the affluent world around them for their needs and wants, and this is an example of just how much people with little money have no power. Money is a far more common asset in present day, so when it is lacked by part of humanity, individuals who are opulent will always have the upper hand.
The power of money is a meaningful aspect in The Great Gatsby. Tom’s prosperity brought Daisy to feel secure in her decision to remain married to him, and without Gatsby’s upcoming in finance, his chance of connecting with Daisy again was low. The power that Tom held over others is a significant factor in the novel, as he had the ability to manipulate people and control many of the factors throughout the novel such as his continuous affairs with a married woman who felt privileged to be with him, and having a wife looked at as a prize to be won(Wulick). As The Great Gatsby contains a multitude of powerful aspects, the characters revolve around the power of money. This reoccuring motif brought dramatic effects to the novel and is a crucial part of the real world.
- Bellamy, Richardson and Daniel Espinoza. Can Money Buy Happiness? Ebscohost. 2018 EBSCO Industries, Inc. Apr 2018. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.lscsproxy.lonestar.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=27&sid=7347de62-eaef-4c22-bebe-54bcbe80eef5%40pdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLGNwaWQmY3VzdGlkPXMxMDg4NDM1JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=128717337&db=a9h
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby, New York: Scribner, 2004.
- Kyvig, David. Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, Ebscohost. 2018 EBSCO Industries, Inc. Sep 2004. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.lscsproxy.lonestar.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=12&sid=7347de62-eaef-4c22-bebe-54bcbe80eef5%40pdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLGNwaWQmY3VzdGlkPXMxMDg4NDM1JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=13802527&db=a9h
- The Roaring Twenties History, History. 2018 A&E Television Networks, LLC.28 August, 2018.
- Tucker, Kristine. Racial Tension in the Roaring Twenties, Synonym. 2001-2018 Leaf Group Ltd. 03 Dec 2018. https://classroom.synonym.com/racial-tension-roaring-twenties-16505.html
- Wulick, Anna. Best Analysis: Money and Materialism in The Great Gatsby, PrepScholar. 14 Feb, 2018. https://blog.prepscholar.com/the-great-gatsby-theme-materialism-money