F. Scott Fitzgerald's Inspiration for 'The Great Gatsby'

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The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. Though it sold poorly at first—readers bought only 20,000 copies in 1925—the publisher Modern Library has called it the best American novel of the 20th century. The novel is set in the fictional town of West Egg on Long Island in the early 1920s. Indeed, Fitzgerald was inspired to write the book by the grand parties he attended on prosperous Long Island, where he got a front-row view of the elite, moneyed class of the 1920s, a culture he longed to join but never could.

Decade of Decadence

The Great Gatsby was first, and foremost, a reflection of Fitzgerald's life. He put pieces of himself into two of the book's major characters —Jay Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire and namesake of the novel, and Nick Carraway, the first-person narrator. After World War I, when Fitzgerald's debut novel— This Side of Paradise —became a sensation and he became famous, he found himself among the glitterati that he had always wanted to join. But it was not to last.​

It took Fitzgerald two years to write The Great Gatsby , which was actually a commercial failure during his lifetime; it did not become popular with the public until well after Fitzgerald's death in 1940. Fitzgerald struggled with alcoholism and money troubles for the rest of his life and never did become part of the gilded, moneyed class that he so admired. He and his wife Zelda had moved, in 1922, to Long Island, where there was a clear division between the "new money" and the old guard elite. Their geographic divisions as well as social strata inspired Gatsby 's division between the fictional neighborhoods of West Egg and East Egg.

Ginevra King, of Chicago, has long been considered the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby's elusive love interest. Fitzgerald met King in 1915 at a snow-sledding party in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was a student at Princeton at the time but was on a visit to his home in St. Paul. King was visiting a friend in St. Paul at the time. Fitzgerald and King were immediately smitten and carried on an affair for more than two years.

King, who went on to become a well-known debutante and socialite, was part of that elusive moneyed class , and Fitzgerald was just a poor college student. The affair ended, reportedly after King's father told Fitzgerald: "Poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls." This line eventually made its way into The Great Gatsby and was included in several movie adaptations of the novel, including one made in 2013. King's father shared several traits with the closest thing Gatsby has to a villain, Tom Buchanan: both were Yale alumni and outright white supremacists. Tom also shares a few references with William Mitchell, the man who ultimately married Ginevra King: he's from Chicago and has a passion for polo.

Another figure from King's circle reportedly appears in fictionalized form in the novel. Edith Cummings was another wealthy debutante and an amateur golfer who moved in the same social circles. In the novel, the character of Jordan Baker is clearly based on Cummings, with one notable exception: Jordan is suspected of having cheated to win a tournament, while no such accusation was ever launched at Cummings.

World War I

In the novel, Gatsby meets Daisy when he is a young military officer stationed at the army's Camp Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, during World War I. Fitzgerald was actually based at Camp Taylor when he was in the army during World War I, and he makes various references to Louisville in the novel. In real life, Fitzgerald met his future wife, Zelda, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama, where she was a beautiful debutante. 

Fitzgerald actually used a line Zelda spoke while she was under anesthesia during the birth of their daughter, Patricia, to create a line for Daisy: "That the best thing for a woman to be was a 'beautiful little fool,'" according to Linda Wagner-Martin in her biography,  Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald , who further noted that the author "knew a good line when he heard it."

Other Possible Tie-Ins

Different men have been postulated to have inspired the character of Jay Gatsby, including bootlegger Max Gerlach, an acquaintance of Fitzgerald, though authors typically have characters be a fictionalized amalgam .

In the book Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby, ’ author Sarah Churchwell theorizes inspiration for the murder in the book from the 1922 double murder of Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills , which happened contemporaneously to when he was starting work on the novel.

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

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Marxism In The Great Gatsby

Nature vs nurture in the great gatsby analysis.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, republished in 1995, is a fictional novel meant to describe the efforts of a lower born man to achieve his unreachable dream of capturing the interest and marrying the woman of a higher class despite the social restrictions of the time period. He displays the figures in the story through a stereotypical, of the 1920s, light as he writes out their background and incorporates the setting. He often writes his settings and characters’ background in the light of the common belief about the classes of the society while making it relatable through the wide use of religious identifiers in the setting.

Pursuit Of Satisfaction In The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the upper class is the main class represented throughout the duration of the entire novel. The main characters are living the American Dream, but are never truly happy with what they have. In The Great Gatsby, the characters of the upper class live the American Dream but are never truly happy, exposing the shallowness of their kind through the pursuit to unattainable satisfaction. This further aids in the characterization of four vital characters: Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby, and Dan Cody. This way of characterizing the most important characters in The Great Gatsby is essential as it provides the readers with more insight into the upper class in the 1920s and the values that they held.

Essay about The Effects of Class Structure in the 1920's

The emerging inequitable class systems and antagonisms of the nineteen twenties saw the traditional order and moral values challenged, as well as the creation of great wealth for few and poverty for many. The Great Gatsby, written by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, explores the causes and effects of the unbalanced class structures. Fitzgerald outlines the idea that the desire to accumulate wealth and status is a common ambition amongst the lower classes; when that desire is reached, the traditional upper class is challenged by the emerging newly wealthy, which finally leads to destructive consequences. By creating rigid class structures, traditional upper class, new wealth, and the poor in The Great Gatsby, it is

Criticism of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Essay

    In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates an artificial world where money is the object of everyone's desire.  The characters, the setting, and the plot are very deeply submerged in a Capitalism that ends up destroying many of them.  Fitzgerald's criticism of Capitalism can be seen as a move to subtly promote Socialism, an ideology in which value is placed on the inherent value of an object rather than its market value.  In a late collection of notes, Fitzgerald himself proclaims that he is "essentially Marxist." [i]   Marxism is a specific branch of Socialist theory.  Fitzgerald makes Gatsby a novel that is not inherently Marxist or even Socialist, but one that is

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis

The pressures of social class tend to give us an urgency to act a certain way. In The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, He carefully sets up his novel into wonderful agencies but, in the long run, every group has its personal issues to take care of, leaving a powerful reminder of what a precarious region the world truly is. By creating awesome social instructions which include new money, old money and the poor. Fitzgerald sends sturdy messages about the elitism running throughout society. He emphasizes the department between the social instructions and the motives in the back of why they are separated. The first and most

Social Norms In The Great Gatsby

In the period of the 1920’s, there was a certain status of wealth that was difficult to achieve. There were two societal classes consisting of those with wealth from prior generations, and those who worked to earn it themselves. Tom, Daisy, and Nick, who represented the old money society did not have to work hard, unlike Gatsby which he represented the new money and they had to work to earn money. People like Gatsby, who gained their wealth on their own often fought for the approval from the upper class who inherited their wealth. Rather than having new money and old money, people who tried achieving the American Dream and ended up in failure usually they end up like George and Myrtle Wilson In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the notion that social norms in the upper class depict the idea that being apart of it was impossible unless they were born in it was expressed through Daisy’s rejection of Gatsby because of the corrupt way in which he gained his wealth, making his American Dream unattainable.

Disillusion of Great Gatsby

Gatsby does not belong to his own class and he is not accepted by the upper class, therefore he becomes an exception. Because of disappointment of being looked down upon and impossibility of accept by the upper class, he has nothing left except his love, which is also his “love dream”. Gatsby’s love for Daisy has been the sole drive and motive of his living. Gatsby’s great love is also the root of his great tragedy, because he is desperately in love with a woman who is not worthy of his deep love. Fitzgerald offers Gatsby with the spirit of sincerity, generosity, nobility, perseverance, and loyalty. All his good natures can be seen

The Great Gatsby And Of Mice And Men

The social hierarchy is influenced by the amount of money one owns which determines whether one can attain their dream. By creating apparent social classes within ‘The Great Gatsby’ – old money, new money and no money, Fitzgerald strongly suggests that American society is intensely stigmatised. Daisy, Tom and Jordan represent the elite social class of society where despite their problems and failures they are always protected and immune by their wealth. Tom refers to Gatsby as ‘Mr Nobody from nowhere” and a “common swindler who would have to steal the ring he put on her finger” as he boasts about his hereditary wealth compared to the other distinct elite group of society who acquire their wealth through business deals, which are sometimes corrupt. Although Fitzgerald mainly attacks the rich, by making them look judgemental, superior and selfish, evidently the lower class of society are vulnerable within American society. This is shown where so many, like Myrtle,

Essay The Great Gatsby: Differences and Corruption of Classes

Money is essential for survival; it can bring happiness, despair, or corruption. It rules our daily lives, is preferred in large amounts, and separates us into different social classes. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a perfect example of this since the class structure within the novel, portrays how money or the need for it can cause corruption in all the different social classes. This is shown through the three distinct classes: old money represented by the Buchanan’s and their self-centered, racist nature, new money represented by Gatsby and his mysterious, illegal ways, and a class that can be called no money represented by the Wilson’s and their attempts at

Theme Of Classism In The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald, in his sarcastic novel The Great Gatsby, frequently shows how racism and classism seriously influence the possibilities of achieving American dreams in obscure methods. The novel details Gatsby’s achievements and dream including Daisy, and makes comparison with other people in different races and classes indirectly but visibly. The fact that, though Gatsby is much wealthier than those in East Egg, he has never achieved the American dream, never owned Daisy truly and never acquired respect, but rumours, due he isn’t born in high class and makes money through bootleg. To some extent, the miserable end of Gatsby is the reflection of the disparity of classism. Gatsby’s mansion reminds people of the feasibility of making the American dream come true. However, his unexpected death that is not caught by police, but killed by Wilson, a white man in mid class, proves that it is related to races and classes closely. Fitzgerald takes us into the suffering of Gatsby to show us that the American dream is like a shell company, which makes everyone look forward to their future with great expectations, but only certain people can truly reach it because people are not standing on the same starting line.

A Marxist Look at The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

     When looking at “ The Great Gatsby,” with a Marxist point of view, one will find that the carelessness of the novel is prominent through the actions of Daisy and Tom alone. The way they run away after Myrtle’s death and the way they treat others

Social Class Distinction in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay

Have you ever thought of how social and economic classes work into a capitalist system? Marxists believe that different social and economic classes should be equal. In the book the “Great Gatsby” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald these classes are very much defined and show the flaws and reality of how social and economic classes are viewed through Marxists. Viewing the classes through vulgar Marxists the characters attempting to climb social and economical ladders in the book are not accepted and rejected from upper class individuals. “The Great Gatsby” shows that people attempting to be something he or she is not does not mean they have achieved these social and economic goals and will be rejected by the very people they are attempting to

A Marxist Critical Approach to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby Essay example

Karl Marx wrote in his 1859 ‘Towards a Critique of Political Economy’ that “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. By stating this, Marx sheds light into the workings of ‘The Great Gatsby’ thus showing that the social circumstances in which the characters find themselves define them, and that these circumstances consist of core Marxist principles a Capitalistic society. These principles being ‘commodity fetishism’ and ‘reification’ are useful aids in interpreting and understanding the core themes that run throughout the text.

Essay On Social Issues In The Great Gatsby

There are many different problems and situations that affected many Americans during the time period of The Great Gatsby. The different problems affect many characters lives and relationships throughout the novel in a variety of situations. Such problems with characters personal lives would be the withering of a American dream. Also, such situations during this time period is how characters aren’t achieving their highest potential and achieving their dreams. Another problem during this time period would be the very unequal wealth distribution in America, but also among all the characters families and themselves individually in The Great Gatsby. There is new money, old money, and the poor which is represented by the valley of ashes throughout this time period. Also, among the rich and poor there is always those who want more and more and are always greedy at every point in the story. Even though characters want all the money they can get there hands on they also try there hardest to achieve enough love and romance in there lives that their heart desires. Lastly, there is a great deal of betrayal throughout the entire length of the novel The Great Gatsby. It is represented by many characters, their relationships, and their personal lives. Different characters’ personal relationships and personal lives give well-distinguished representations of the problems such as a withering American dream, unequal wealth distribution in America, and betrayal in The Great Gatsby.

Great Gatsby Wt2 Essay example

The Great Gatsby presents different social groups to embody and transmit the idea that each class has it’s own problems to prevail over and unhappiness transcends over all the social classes. The problems in each group, despite the social stratification, reveal the instability of the world they live in. The three classes are old money, new money, and no money in which all three believe their own rules of survival in society and enforce boundaries between social classes. Fitzgerald uses the similarities between the poor and the rich to reinforce his opinion and his characterization of the upper class.

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the great gatsby marxist lens essay

Marxist Lens The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald took place in the 1920’s when the nation was undergoing rapid economic, political, and social change. Looking through different literary lenses the reader is able to see the effects of these rapid changes. The marxist lens reflects the gap between rich and poor while the feminist lens showcases the patriarchal society. The marxist lens reflects the gap between the rich and the poor during the 1920’s through the glass ceiling effect and female economic status. The glass ceiling is an unseen and unbreakable barrier that keeps one from rising to the upper class regardless of their qualifications or achievements. The different settings in the novel represent this effect: East Egg, the Valley of Ashes, and …show more content…

In this essay, the author

Daisy and Jordan are members of the elite class and are often presented as motionless, sitting or lying down, and when they do move it is leisurely. On the other hand, Myrtle is a member of the lower class and is depicted as annoyingly full of energy. During their journey to Tom and Daisy’s apartment, Daisy rapidly states “I’m going to make a list of all the things I’ve got to get. A massage and a wave and a collar for the dog and one of those cute little ashtrays where you touch a spring, and a wreath with a black silk bow for mother’s grave that’ll last all summer” (Fitzgerald, page 40). Myrtle’s abundance of energy is induced by her obsession with obtaining wealth. Despite drastic differences in how females are depicted based on their differences in wealth, both Daisy and Myrtle are treated as inferior to their husbands. This patriarchal view influences a feminist …show more content…

During the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan about Daisy, she is talked about like she is a possession to be won over. During the argument Nick “glances at Daisy who was staring terrified between Gatsby and her husband” (Fitzgerald, page 143). Gatsby and Buchanan tell Daisy what to say instead of allowing her to tell her own truths, and if she does start to speak up for herself she is quickly quieted down. Daisy states at the beginning of the novel while talking about finding out the sex of her child that, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald, page 16). Daisy is the only female character in the novel who understands that no matter what a woman accomplishes, she will always be downcasted based on her gender. This outlook is what allows her to be controlled by Gatsby and Buchanan, because she doesn’t believe that anything she can do will make her more of a human to them. Myrtle on the other hand, while still a married woman, isn’t able to see her powerlessness. She feels powerful enough to stand up to Tom and chant Daisy’s name over and over again until he breaks her nose (Fitzgerald, page 37). This scene demonstrates the way that men handled women if they ever did feel confident enough to speak for themselves. One final scene from the novel that really

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the great gatsby marxist lens essay

A Social Theory of Marxism Showing in The Great Gatsby

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A Social Theory of Marxism Showing in The Great Gatsby

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"The Great Gatsby": A Marxist View

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Fitzgerald’s characters represent Marxist ideas, through his representation of the different classes, and his interpretation of how their class defines their life. As mentioned before that this story was written according to the post-World War I, where Fitzgerald, Carraway and Gatsby all fought in. Nevertheless, it doesn’t signify the ongoing capitalist society it represents but unveils the hidden side of culture at the time. It brings out how the chase of property weakens individual excellence, as seen with Gatsby when he failed all the things he had, because of the goal he had to ‘reach the top of the ‘heap’’ (LITTLE 14).

The richest characters, like Tom and Daisy, as well as the people who attend Gatsby’s parties are really the most unpleasant and shallow ones, making an imitation of the ‘American Dream’ which was the height of American ambition in the ‘Roaring 20’s’. Fitzgerald’s stance would appear to be significant of the upper class, as conclusively the rich characters come to unhappy demises, yet, accidentally or not, he reinforces stereotypes of the different classes and portrays poor people in a fairly negative standing.


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The class that The Great Gatsby represents in the most positive light is the narrator himself, Nick Carraway, who comes from a middle-class family and seems to be the only one content with his lot in life. Nick’s experience of society is very similar to Fitzgerald’s, as although Nick comes from a richer family than Fitzgerald, the author was basically raised as if he were rich, so would be used to being around people like Nick, and would know how they view things.

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His social status allows him to see things objectively. There are Tom and Daisy who both come from wealthy families who have been ‘in the money’ for generations. Then there’s Myrtle and her husband George, who both represent the lower working class, and finally Gatsby – who started life as low class, and moved up in the world with his questionably acquired wealth.

Throughout the novel, poor people are represented in a very negative way. While the rich people are the ones who have all the fun, attend parties and have frivolous romances, the less well-off citizens live in a ‘valley of ashes,’ where men move ‘dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air’ (Fitzgerald 23). It would seem that Fitzgerald is indicating that money makes you an interesting and happy citizen, while lack of this inevitably leads to a boring, ‘grey’ life in the valley of ashes. Marxism would dispute this, as Marx wants classes to be overthrown, implying that everyone is capable of living in the same standards as each other, and are therefore all equal.

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the great gatsby marxist lens essay

The Great Gatsby Marxism Analysis

John steinbeck's paradox and dream.

The American Dream is a concept that we have created which illustrates a perfect life. Growing up, we are taught that we can be anything we dream of as long as we put our mind to it. We view ourselves and our country as the best, since we believe that we can achieve any goal with effort and perseverance. As stated in John Steinbeck’s “Paradox and Dream,” we are strong believers of our beliefs and “seem to be in a state of turmoil all the time, both physically and mentally”. We have made it appear as if the American Dream can be achieved as we are diligent, well inherited individuals that could make anything possible as long as we have the mentality and commitment to accomplish it.

Theme Of Destruction In The Great Gatsby

Throughout the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald the constant theme of obtaining the American Dream causes major destruction. The American dream is based off a myth told that every United States citizen has an equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work and determination. However, in the novel, Fitzgerald shows how the American Dream is unattainable, with Gatsby representing this myth through his unfulfilled desire to obtain more and more. Through Gatsby's impossible journey to attain the American Dream, Fitzgerald shows how this dream creates false hope for a better life and replaces religious figures for money.

Materialism In The Great Gatsby Analysis

The American dream states that any individual can achieve success regardless of family history, race, and/or religion simply by working hard. The 1920’s were a time of corruption and demise of moral values in society. The first World War had passed, and people were reveling in the materialism that came at the end of it, such as advanced technology and innovative inventions. The novel The Great Gatsby exploits the theme of the American Dream as it takes place in a corrupt period in history. Although the American Dream seemed more attainable than ever in the 1920’s, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby demonstrates how materialism and the demise of moral values in society leads to the corruption and impossibility of the American Dream. This is accomplished through the use of symbols such as the Valley of Ashes, The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and The Green Light. These 3 symbols play a huge roll in the novel for each of them are massively important in their own ways.

Immigration In The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is considered the typical American novel, known for its emphasis and twist on the American Dream. Some people, such as Jeffrey Decker, disagree with this view on the book. Decker insists in his article, “Corruption and Anti-Immigrant Sentiments Skew a Traditional American Tale”, that the loss of faith in the hope of social mobility and the idea of the self-made man in The Great Gatsby is a direct cause of the anti-immigrant attitudes due to the rising tide of immigration in the 1920s.

Similarities Between Patrick Henry And Benjamin Franklin

The American dream carries a different meaning for every person. The definition may also change according to the time period and situation. In many sources, the American dream is defined as the ideal that all United States citizens should have equal opportunity to obtain success and prosperity through dedication. Two famous speeches, “The Speech at the Virginia Convention” by Patrick Henry and “The Speech in the Constitutional Convention” by Benjamin Franklin, define the term American dream during the time we were fighting for our independence. These speeches helped define the American dream by motivating the colonists to build the foundation foundation of the term, which is freedom and independence.

Examples Of Duality In The Great Gatsby

The 1920’s was a very interesting time in United States history. After all World War I had ended and many Americans did not realize that the Great Depression was in the near future, so the 1920’s fell between these two dramatic events. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby teaches many morals, but none more important than the duality of the 1920’s. Duality is evident in Gatsby's dreams, his death, his lover Daisy, his wealth, and his parties, which all reflect the duality of the 1920’s. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald makes the concept of achieving the American dream seem improbable. Gatsby has the American Dream of being successful and wanting to marry the girl of his dreams. However, Fitzgerald argues that The American Dream is a paradox because dreams aren’t supposed to be achieved, and are better off to remain in one’s imagination. For example, Gatsby wants to marry the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. Sadly Gatsby sets such a high standard for her that she will never be able to live up to. Gatsby envisions Daisy as the golden girl, and once he put his plan into action, he realizes

What Is The Relationship Between The Great Gatsby And The American Dream

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the novel, “The Great Gatsby”, with the concept of “The American Dream”. For most Americans, “The American Dream”, is the idea of freedom, wealth, equality and opportunity. But F. Scott Fitzgerald manages to define all of the characters in his novel through the use of literary devices and symbols. Also, Fitzgerald explains how each character, even with their wealth; never seem to have their “America Dream”.

The American Dream In The Great Gatsby Essay

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is a reflection of the American Dream. Written in 1925, the book tells the story of a man named Jay Gatsby, whose main driving force in life is the pursuit of a woman called Daisy Buchanan. The narrator is Gatsby’s observant next-door neighbor, Nick Carraway, who offers a fresh, outsider’s perspective on the events; the action takes place in New York during the so-called Roaring Twenties. By 1922, when The Great Gatsby takes place, the American Dream had little to do with Providence divine and a great deal to do with feelings organized around style and personal changed – and above all, with the unexamined self . Fitzgerald focused on the shift in the American Dream - from being the idea of self-fulfillment, dignity and comfort that is achieved through hard work, to being equated with the pursuit of wealth and power, and identifying happiness with having money. The novel depicts the rise and fall of the concept and describes the causes of its decay.

Narcissism In The Great Gatsby

The “American dream” has always been the idea of achieving success through hard work and determination, and has been a topic for discussion for quite some time. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote extensively about it as one of the central themes in his magnum opus, “The Great Gatsby”. However, instead of attempting to inspire his readers with characters who made the dream come true for them, he tries to lecture the reader on how the dream died in the 1920s. One might even say that the overall mood of the novel might be one of strong cynicism, as it is distinctly indicated by the personalities of two characters in the book: Daisy and Tom Buchanan. While Daisy is portrayed as narcissistic and self-centered, Tom is shown as manipulative and forceful. Meanwhile, the third character to mention named Jay Gatsby, represents the superego in human psychology, despite his involvement in the Jewish

Personification Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

The American dream stands as a symbol for hope, prosperity, and happiness. But F. Scott Fitzgerald 's The Great Gatsby, examines the American dream from a different perspective, one that sheds light on those who contort these principles to their own selfish fantasies. Fitzgerald renders Jay Gatsby as a man who takes the Dream too far, and becomes unable to distinguish his false life of riches from reality. This 'unique ' American novel describes how humanity 's insatiable desires for wealth and power subvert the idyllic principles of the American vision.

The Theme Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald 's The Great Gatsby portrays many themes, however the most significant theme relates to man 's unsuccessful attempts at the American dream. The Great Gatsby shows how not one by many characters fail at achieving their American dream. The American Dream as defined by James Truslow Adams in 1921, "life should be better, richer, and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each regardless of social class or circumstances of birth”. The desire to strive for what one wants can be achieved if one is willing to work hard enough. The dream is represented by the ideas of a self sufficient man or woman, who is willing to do anything to achieve the goal of becoming successful. The Great Gatsby shows what happened to the American Dream in the 1920’s, a time period when dreams became corrupted for many reasons. The desire for a luxurious life, the hope for happiness, and the ambition for something unachievable and work together to ruin the American Dream. The Great Gatsby shows a time when the American Dream is failing, humanity is corrupting it by their wants of possessions leading to the all out demise of the American Dream.

American Dream In The Great Gatsby Analysis

The Great Gatsby, written in 1924 by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in my opinion, focused on the

The Great Gatsby Passage Analysis

In the last passage of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the reader gains insight into Gatsby’s life through the reflections of Nick Carraway. These reflections provide a summary of Gatsby’s life and also parallel the main themes in the novel. Through Fitzgerald’s use of diction and descriptions, he criticizes the American dream for transformation of new world America from an untainted frontier to a corrupted industrialized society.

James Truslow Adams: The Definition Of The American Dream

The term, “American dream,” was first used by historian James Truslow Adams. James stated that the American dream was, “That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” Although the quote states a perfect definition of the American dream, this term can be interpreted in several ways. The American dream is achieving a goal that before was seen as impossible or unlikely, making a decision that could improve the life of future descendants, and having goals that you want to accomplish.

Examples Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

American dream in the USA of the 1920’s, as depicted by “The Great Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald

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Marxist Criticism In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

Show More The Greatness Of Gatsby The Great Gatsby is a seemingly simple story about a man chasing a dream that has already fallen past his grasp.This is the basis of the story however , the story is far from being simple. The story The Great Gatsby, was masterfully written by Scott Fitzgerald, and still holds such symbolic power hidden in, it’s pages, that scholars have devoted their lives to studying the pages and precise word choices chosen in of The Great Gatsby even today.Furthermore, the book is shrouded in a sense of simplicity, but for those that look past the story the symbolism hidden within the text give it such a superior weight to other novel’s even in this time period, allowing it to earn the name “A Great American Novel”( Bray 1).In …show more content… Without a doubt, the Marxist lense plays a major role, in The Great Gatsby, from start to finish. In addition, when applying the marxist lense,we can use class division to represent the action’s and ideal’s of each character. “Daisy’s playboy husband, Tom and Daisy’s friend, jordan Baker, a professional golfer, are part of the rich, spoiled social set of 1920’s”(McAdams 654) using this view we can almost comprehend the effects of growing up spoiled, have led Tom and Baker, to be transformed into the manipulative people we read about in the books.If we continue to pry into the backgrounds given to the character’s, we also learn the wealthy mister Jay Gatsby, only became so after struggling to rid himself of his born birthright to poverty. The character who the novel follows, Nick Carraway was born from a upper middle class family, and was taught from an early age,”That all the people in the world haven’t the advantages you had”(Fitzgerald 1) by his father. Because of this ideal bestowed upon him by his family’s lineage, “He comes to admire a man, Gatsby, who breaks all of the rules.”(McAdams 654). By Analyzing with the Marxist lense, we can see multiple different points of view from the different social classes each character was born to. Each view if followed through can change our entire analysis of the …show more content… Moreover, as a whole entity Fitzgerald fails to put any true weight to the emotional state and desires of the female character’s. In addition they fail to chase dream, or strive for goals and appear as emotionally passive throughout the entire novel. Uniquely, by looking into the feminist lense, we come to realize that The Great Gatsby may actually be a sexist novel, where woman simple don’t have a major role. Furthermore, Daisy easily, has her heart and opinions swayed through the novel, dashing back and forth between Gatsby, and Tom. She is portrayed as a careless character with the only purpose of breaking things around her including Gatsby himself. As we continue with the feminist analysis, we come across Jordan Baker, who arguably can be considered the closet to an actual female character in the book. However, if we read between the lines, we learn the only reason this may be is due to the fact, that Nick considering her “ ‘Unfeminine, androgynous, more of a boy than a ‘lady’”(Strba 41).To conclude. All of this points toward The Great Gatsby with being “-charged The Great Gatsby with exhibiting hostility toward women”(Straba 41). In addition, feminism literary criticism gives us the opportunities to see these hidden facts, because it forces us to reexamine

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the great gatsby marxist lens essay

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

Great Gatsby An Analysis Using Marxist Materialist Psychoanalytic And Feminist Theories Term Paper

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

Excerpt from Term Paper :

They hurried back to Long Islands where Gatsby tells Nick that he wasn't driving the car but Daisy was and it is she who killed Myrtle but he was ready to take the blame. The next day, Tome meets Myrtle's husband George and tells him it is Gatsby who has killed his wife. Events made George realize that Myrtle's lover had killed him. Therefore, he hurries to Gatsby's mansion where he shoots Gatsby and kills himself too. Nick arranges a small funeral for Gatsby detaches himself from Jordon and travels back to Midwest. All these attempts were intended for to get rid of the feeling that disgusts him about the people who were part of Gatsby's life. He deeply felt the emptiness in the life of the rich people and the way the life of people at East Coast was decaying away, morally. Nick further felt that just the way, Gatsby's desire for Daisy was polluted by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated into the mere pursuit of wealth . Though Gatsby's power to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him "great," Nick reflects that the era of dreaming -- both Gatsby's dream and the American dream -- is over. The Great Gatsby through the Lens of Marxist Criticism For understanding The Great Gatsby with reference to Marxist school of thought, we need to understand the philosophy of Karl Marx. Karl Marx was a philosopher and an economist from Germany. The basis of his theory was to emphasis on the fact that those who control the factors of production in a society bear the power to control it. Or in simple words, whosoever controls the factories controls the culture and social forces too. This very concept is called "dialectical materialism." Marx further emphasized that the social forces of the world are driving this society towards communism . As per Marx, the means of production will be governed by the masses (those who use it) and not by the owners of them. Marxism was considered as the reflection of poor's unanimous thought all over the world. Marxist criticism is based on the economic theories of his. Rather than taking literature a work produced by an individual on the basis of his consciousness, Critics from Marxist school of thought believe that in order to observe and examine any work, it is necessary to relate it to any ideology which is related to any specific period. Such critics examine the work on the criteria of how it is portrayed as part of social actions and institutions (Beauvoi, 2006). Furthermore, how that work reflects any class's struggle, is another criteria. Given below are the claims of Marxist criticism: History of humanity has shown evolution and so has it institutions. The ways of it, are also evolved and are determined by the "material production or basic economic organization" which has shown the changing mode. Changes shown by history, in the methodology of production are causative factors in constitutional changes and variation witnessed in the power relations of the social classes and the struggle for economic, political and social change . Human realization in any period of the history is governed by a set of beliefs, values and norms of the society. These beliefs provide a basis for human perception of the reality. A Marxist. A Marxist critic attempts to "explain" the literature in any era by examining the relation of the text to the economic and social realities of that time. Marxist theory is critical in a manner because it examine literature with reference to power and money. Who owns the power and who doesn't? And what will be the result of this clash. In order to read literature from Marxist perspective, one must realize the fact that Marxists believe that culture is reflected by literature and literature has a power of affecting culture even tendency of instigating revolution. Marx deals with sub-consciousness governed by political forces and believes that oppression is caused by this part…

Sources Used in Documents:

Work Cited Beauvoir, Simone de. "Introduction." The Second Sex. Rpt. In French Feminism Reader.Ed. Kelly Oliver. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000:6-20. Bettina, Sister M. The artifact in imagery: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Twentieth-Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 9: 140-142, 1963. Brannon, Linda. Gender: Psychological Perspectives. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2005. Bruccoli, Mattew J. "Preface." The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Macmillan, 1992.vii-xvi.

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The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Literary Criticism Lens

the great gatsby marxist lens essay

In my report I will be analysing the presence of Marxism in F.S.K Fitzgerald’s book, ‘The Great Gatsby ’. Whilst viewing this book through a critical lens, I discovered that many examples in the text work together to show the Marxist literary theory, of how everything relates back to wealth and financial status, reflecting on the economic experiences of the author. The particular aspects of this novel I will be focusing on are theme and characterisation. ‘ The Great Gatsby’ is quite centred on the theme of money and how it will inevitably affect one’s life. Money, wealth and class are central themes which fuel the plot, and the way in which characters act, think, interact with the other characters, and are portrayed. Power and money are intricately co-related, as having one typically – but not always means the other is present, whilst lacking one means the other is absent.

In the Jazz age of the 20’s, when this book is set, the amount of money you had defined what class you were in. Even within the category of ‘rich’ there were sub-categories, such as safer or ‘old’ money, which is when families have been wealthy for many generations. ‘New’ money is somewhat frowned upon, and looked on with suspicion and contempt by the aristocracy, who pride themselves on having been affluent for generations. The characters portray Marxist ideas, through Fitzgerald’s representation of the different classes, and his interpretation of how their class defines their experience.

The theory of Marxism was created by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 19th century, who perceived human history to have ‘consisted of a series of struggles between classes – the oppressed and the oppressing.’ The bourgeois and the proletariat are the two classes of people in society. According to Marxists, the proletariat are the peasants, the hard working low class with very little to show for their efforts and the bourgeois is the upper class, who according to Marx and Engels reap the benefits of the proletariats labour. Marx believed that for the uprising and rebellion of the proletariats to be successful, it must be swift and violent and many of the current ruling class will perish because the former presiding class will not give up without a fight and their death will be the only way to win the revolution. [1]

Marxism believed that the class system and the large gap between the rich and poor would be bridged by the removal of capitalism, and returning the means of production to the lower and middle class people. This would lead to a ‘classless’ society which governs itself, where everyone is equal. Marxism in literature relates to class differences; economic and otherwise, as well as the implications and complications of the capitalist system. It attempts to reveal the ways in which our socioeconomic system is the ultimate source of our experience. [2]

Marxists, as well as many other scholars believe that literature reflects ‘those social institutions out of which it emerges, [3] ’ i.e. the times and society in which it was created, as well as the background and ideology of the author. It reflects struggle within and between classes as well as whatever materialism was prevalent in the society which the author lived in. Frequently, an entire book will revolve around the protagonist’s quest for wealth, and ‘rags to riches’ type stories, like ‘The Great Gatsby ,’ are really a reflection of our fascination with classes, and how people can ‘move up’, no matter how lowly their origins. So Marxists generally see literature ‘not as works created in accordance with timeless artistic criteria, but as ‘products’ of the economic and ideological determinants specific to that era’ (Abrams 149). Works of literature tend to reflect the author’s class, and their analysis of class relations from the point of view of the class they come from. Marxist literary criticism determines whether its social content is progressive, or detrimental to the Marxist movement.

The author of ‘The Great Gatsby’, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in America, 1896. He attended Princeton University, but dropped out before graduating, and then joined the army. Edward Fitzgerald, his father, came from ‘tired, old stock’ who worked in an office job [2]. Although Catholic, Irish, and the son of an unsuccessful businessman, Scott went to dancing school with children of Saint Paul’s elite. In one of his many romances, with a girl named Ginevra from a wealthy family, her Father allegedly told him that ‘poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls.’ [4] Fitzgerald seemed to take this message to heart, and consciously or not, this theme was worked into many of his stories, and indeed Gatsby, the main character of this book seems to embody this theme in his pursuit of ‘rich girl’ Daisy.

Fitzgerald and his wife lived overseas in France, where ‘ The Great Gatsby’ was written, as well as in New York. They were well known for their alternative style of life and ceaseless partying, and Fitzgerald earned a reputation as a symbol of the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald saw things from a double perspective, as he was raised amongst the upper class, yet came from more humble stock, and so is inclined to have a broader perspective than either class, which may be overly critical of the other. Fitzgerald’s reading included the work of Karl Marx, which may be why so many of his stories’ wealthy protagonists face unhappy endings, as Marxism believes the excessive wealth of one class at the expense of all others is wrong.

F. Scott Fitzgerald set this story during post-World War I, (which both he, Carraway and Gatsby all fought in) economic boom of the 1920’s. However, it doesn’t celebrate the vibrant capitalist culture it portrays, but reveals the darker side of society at the time. It highlights how the pursuit of money decays personal values, as happened with Gatsby, when he lost everything because of his life’s goal to reach the top of the ‘heap’. The richest characters, like Tom and Daisy, as well as the people who attend Gatsby’s parties are really the most unpleasant and shallow ones, making a mockery of the ‘American Dream’ which was the height of American ambition in the ‘Roaring 20’s’. [5]

Fitzgerald’s stance would appear to be critical of the upper class, as ultimately the rich characters come to unhappy demises, yet, unintentionally or not, he reinforces stereotypes of the different classes, and portrays poor people in a fairly negative light. The class that ‘The Great Gatsby’ represents in the most positive light is the narrator himself, Nick Carraway, who comes from a middle class family and seems to be the only one content with his lot in life.

The Great Gatsby starts out displaying the theme of Marxism almost immediately with the introduction of the narrator, Nick when he describes his socioeconomic status as a ‘bonds man’. He describes his class pretty quick off the bat, saying; “ My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for 3 generations .” The bourgeois status of Nick is contrasted by the extremely wealthy Gatsby and his grand mansion. The extent of the splendour Gatsby lives in is described in great detail by Nick, as is the Buchanans house; ‘ The one on my right (Gatsby’s house) was a colossal affair by any standard – it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden .’ Nick represents Fitzgerald’s view, as he comes from a well-off family, but he also works long, hard hoursas a bonds man, commuting daily to New York.

Nick’s experience of society is very similar to Fitzgerald’s, as although Nick comes from a richer family than Fitzgerald, the author was basically raised as if he were rich, so would be used to being around people like Nick, and would know how they view things. His social status allows him to see things objectively, as he isn’t quite in the same class as any of the other characters. There is Tom and Daisy who both come from wealthy families who have been ‘in the money’ for generations. Then you have Myrtle and her husband Wilson, who both represent the lower working class, and finally Gatsby – who started life as low class, and moved up in the world with his questionably acquired wealth. It is undeniable that these character’s experiences stem directly from their class, and the downsides of each class lead the reader to the conclusion that society would indeed be better off without all these classes that cause more trouble than good. [6]

When describing the lavish parties that Gatsby holds, Nick is quite an objective viewer. He acknowledges the superficial ‘introductions forgotten on the spot and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names .’ Early on, the upper class is being outright criticised for its falseness, which reinforces the Marxist view that classes should not even exist. They have little interests outside themselves, and are quite selfish and rude in their treatment of less fortunate persons.

Jay Gatsby represents all the ambitious poor boys who believed in the land of opportunity, as he followed his dream until the very end. He is unquestionably rich, and the descriptions of his ostentatious house and parties uphold this. He is the archetypal rags to riches story – but with no happy ending. His family were ‘unsuccessful farm people’ , and he changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby in order to disassociate himself from them. If he had admitted to being from a poor background, it is likely he would not have been as popular as he was. The goal of the main character, Jay Gatsby is to win back Daisy, who he lost the chance to marry back when he was an officer, as a direct result of his inadequate monetary status in Daisy’s eyes. At the beginning of Gatsby’s courting of Daisy, when he was just a soldier, the ambitious young man realises that his current status is not going to be enough to maintain her interest. “ However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders .”Her current husband – Tom Buchanan is very wealthy, and would be considered old money, which Gatsby cannot compete with as he came across his wealth through his own means.

When talking to Nick about his mansion, Gatsby says; “ It took me just 3 years to earn the money that bought it. ” Gatsby lives in this vast house all by himself, with the single goal of ‘winning’ Daisy. For 5 years he has held the belief that when she sees his house, and the wealth he has accumulated, she will be his again. This reinforces the Marxist view that the upper class holds all the power, as Gatsby believes that money is the key to gaining Daisy’s affections. It seems like he will be successful, as they start seeing each other, and Daisy even tells Tom she will leave him. However, the class above Gatsby, who is represented by Tom Buchanan, wins out, as he puts doubt into Daisy’s mind by telling her that Gatsby is just a ‘bootlegger’. Even though Daisy claims that she loves Gatsby, she never sees

him again after she goes home, not even turning up to his funeral. In Daisy’s world, security and money are everything, and she will not let love get in the way of these things. Classes are in essence the driving force behind Gatsby’s goal, and definitely a realistic portrayal of the time frame the book was set in, the 20’s. Marxism says that society involves a struggle between the upper and lower class, which is in essence what Gatsby is struggling against, as he fights to be accepted as upper class for once and all, ridding himself of his more humble origins.

Tom is the stereotypical aristocrat of America, who is fearful of white-black integration – yet another example of the vast chasm between social classes. He represents the very top of the social hierarchy, who always gets what he wants – which is both the attraction and repulsion of his status, as he is very arrogant. Throughout the novel, Gatsby is put down, especially by Tom, for being ‘new money’. An example of this is when the truth comes out about Gatsby’s and Daisy’s relationship. Tom scorns the very idea that an upper class girl would love a poor man, saying; “ She’s not leaving me! Certainly not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her finger .” From a Marxist point of view, this was to be expected, as someone as rich as Tom would never see Gatsby as a viable candidate for his wife’s love. Like Ginevra’s Father who crushed Fitzgerald’s dream of marrying his daughter, [1] Tom scoffs at the idea of a poor boy marrying above his class.

Gatsby has certainly worked hard in his life, and is more self-invented than any other character in the book. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be rich, and did whatever it took to achieve this. When he moved up from his ‘despicable’ previous work as a janitor, clam digger and salmon fisher to work for Dan Cody on his yacht, he is taking his first step up the rungs of classes. To Gatsby, Cody’s yacht ‘ represented all the beauty and glamour in the world .’ He saw the class above him with rose-tinted glasses, as well as his love interest, Daisy, but neither of the two are as wonderful as he imagines them to be. No one in ‘ The Great Gatsby ’ is really happy in their class; they either want to become richer and move up a class, or if they are one of the few in the very top order, like Daisy, they see the ‘awfulness’ of everything. This lines up with the Marxist idea that life is a continuous struggle between the bourgeois and the proletariat [2] .

Daisy is Gatsby’s ideal woman, who is destined to be forever out of reach for him. Throughout the novel she is held up on a pedestal; described as a ‘sweet and exciting’ girl, who can basically do no wrong. Even her affair with Gatsby isn’t really seen as an immoral action, and her husband isn’t mad at her when he finds out. Through Daisy, Fitzgerald glamorises the upper class women as better than all others, and Jordan and Daisy are definitely portrayed as a lot classier than working class women Myrtle and her sister Catherine. Nick says of Daisy’s voice that, “ It was full of money – that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals song of it… High in a white palace the King’s daughter, the golden girl ” Contrastingly, Myrtle is described as ‘fairly stout’ with a ‘coarse’ voice, and Catherine’s ‘rakish’ eyebrows are emphasised above all other physical features. This is quite possibly the manifestation of Fitzgerald’s view of classes, and the women in the ones above him. He engaged in many romances, including with one wealthier woman in particular, Ginevra, who in the end evaded him as a direct result of his lower class. [3] Daisy can have any man she wants, but this would not be the case if she were poor. This is also the case with Tom, who although has won the elusive Daisy as his wife, still wants more. He isn’t satisfied even with the crème de la crème of the women available to him, and so he greedily takes a mistress – Myrtle.

From a Marxist perspective, this is symbolic of the fact that people will never be content with what they have, even when they appear to have everything. The theme of materialism and fascination with always ‘possessing’ more things filters through a lot in ‘The Great Gatsby ,’ and in the end, although people earn, or simply have a lot of things, nobody is truly satisfied.

Daisy is a popular, well-to-do girl, and it appears she is one of the few who sees through her own society for what it really is. She is strangely detached from her daughter, and claims the first thing she said when she was born, was; “ I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool .” It seems that Daisy wishes she was more of a fool, as she resents being ‘sophisticated’, because it makes her think everything’s terrible. Fitzgerald’s point of view is filtering through here, as he himself has a negative view on society, and sees it for the farce it really is. Marxism shares Daisy’s pessimistic view on society, although Daisy doesn’t think of changing the way things are, and just admits that girls should be ‘stupid’ to survive, while Marxism aims to overthrow all forms of hierarchy and achieve equality.

Wilson and his cheating wife Myrtle are Fitzgerald’s representation of the poor lower class, which is generally gloomy, and makes the lower class lifestyle seem very depressing. Throughout the novel, poor people are represented in a very negative way. While the rich people are the ones who have all the fun, attend parties and have frivolous romances, the less well-off citizens live in a ‘valley of ashes ,’ where men move ‘ dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air’ . Wilson is a very pathetic character with no backbone or brains, who isn’t even aware that his wife is having an affair with Tom Buchanan. The fact that Tom is having an affair with a low class woman also reinforces the prejudiced view that poorer women lack sexual morals, and are more likely to sleep around than ‘classy’ ladies. It would seem that Fitzgerald is indicating that money makes you an interesting and happy citizen, while lack of this inevitably leads to a boring, ‘grey’ life in the valley of ashes. Marxism would dispute this, as Marx wants classes to be overthrown, implying that everyone is capable of living in the same standards as each other, and are therefore all equal. It is, however an accurate depiction of the 20’s, where the focus was very much on living the high life, as the men were fresh out of war and wanted to enjoy themselves. This piece of literature is most definitely a product of the era it came of, and the opinions that society had. [4]

Myrtle is happy only whilst with the richer and consequently more interesting Tom, who buys her anything she wants; including a puppy dog on a sporadic whim that she has. Parties are introduced to the story early on, and play a large part in the story. They are certainly frequent and occur most often at Gatsby’s mansion. At Myrtle’s little party which she holds in her apartment, even she, considered a low class woman, criticises the class below her – those working in servant roles. She says of them; “ All they think of is money… These people! You have to keep after them all the time .” The idea of class is always present. In a truly Marxist world, there would be no excess wealth, nor poverty, and criticisms of the lower class would never occur.

Although George Wilson, like Gatsby works hard, the American Dream of gaining prosperity through hard work eludes him. It seems that Fitzgerald is alluding to the fact that it is much easier to get rich fast through unscrupulous means as Gatsby has done with his backstreet deals, while George has done the hard yards, owning his own car shop, and is tired all of the time. George is described as a ‘ blond, spiritless man ,’ and is under the power of his wife who bosses him around, as well as Tom, who he desperately asks to buy a car from, to keep his floundering business alive. He doesn’t hold any bargaining power whatsoever, and is completely oblivious to Tom and his wife’s deceit. When Myrtle goes off with Tom, he says of George; “ He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive .” Meanwhile, Gatsby, who’s a criminal, lounges around in a mansion with constant parties and a pool he doesn’t even use all summer.

The Wilsons are a reinforcement of the rags to riches goal, with an unhappy ending just like Gatsby’s. They never progress beyond the ‘rags’ status, although each try their hardest to improve their lot in life – George by working hard in his store, and Myrtle by associating herself with the high class Tom Buchanan. Classes are always prevalent in ‘ The Great Gatsby’ ; there is always someone richer and poorer than each character, whom they are either resentful, or contemptuous of. Myrtle dies in the end, without marrying Tom, while Wilson goes crazy. His murder of Gatsby could be read as an attempt to ‘overthrow’ the higher society, as a step towards a more equal society. Marx predicted this would happen in the future, and even warned that it may involve violence, as the uprising must be swift in order to be successful. [5] George finally overcomes his ‘weak, pathetic’ stereotype, and takes a stand for what he believes is right – no matter how misinformed he is. It is the only instance where he has any real power, as throughout the book he was dominated by everyone, including Tom and Myrtle who walked all over him.

From a Marxist perspective, the portrayal of George and Myrtle Wilson is a flaw in the Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald is clearly critiquing the American dream, and the capitalism which consumes everyone, but by giving this couple such a glum existence, there is no real moral to the story. [6] If they were happy, it would be a truly Marxist novel, but they are portrayed as negatively as the rich people. With or without money, people are unhappy, according to this book. The lavish lifestyles of the Buchanans and Gatsby are much more glorified than that of the poor, through the lush language that describes their mansions and parties. We can see that they are unpleasant people, through quotes like; “ They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money, or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess that they had made .” However, the vivid description of their beautiful clothing, houses, friends, and even their physiques, makes them much more alluring to the reader, than the pitiful lives of lower classes, even including Nick Carraway, who seems to be one of the only fully sane people in the novel. He notes, that; “ Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor .”

Throughout the book, it is implied that it is impossible to rise above one’s class. Gatsby tries, and it seems like he may be successful in getting Daisy to love him. But in the end, Daisy stays with her rich husband, disregarding her heart which wants Gatsby, for the security and wealth that Tom offers. This is a mockery of the American Dream which was conceptualised around this time, and gave hope to everyone that if they worked hard, they would reap the rewards, no matter their surname or beginning in life. [7]

Upon reading this book for a second time, with the Marxist theory in mind, it was quite interesting to see how something that I had perceived as purely romantic in Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy, could be interpreted as being all based around money. I realised that the characters were all stereotypes of their classes, and none of them portrayed in a very positive light. High society was mocked, yet at the same time glamorised, while a poorer lifestyle was downright scorned by Fitzgerald. Being aware of the author’s own social class was definitely helpful in understanding his views of society, and how they linked in with the narrators observations. My sympathies didn’t change, as I felt pity for Gatsby’s doomed dream in my first and second readings, and disliked the upper class both times as well. In the first reading I was more disdainful of the Wilsons, but felt more sympathy for them the second time around, as they were really victims of their time and the values it held dear. They could never hope to be happy when all around them people were only being seen as content if they had money. I would say that the most important result of applying the Marxist critical theory on the primary text is that it really helps you understand how classes affect everything so profoundly in the setting of ‘ The Great Gatsby .’

Although many people today still hold money up as the reason for all their actions, criticisms are made much more openly regarding classes – about rich people in particular. Literature, TV shows like South Park and Banksy-style art all make people ask questions about the way things are through satire and subtle undertones that can often be found easily enough, if you look at the creator’s background, and what their view on the world is. To link this back to Marxism, they are undermining the status quo, and could be interpreted as championing the Marxist cause of equality. In Fitzgerald’s case, he was raised amongst the privileged. Therefore, he saw the glamour in which they lived, yet understood the frailty and uncertainty of it all for those who were not born into it and were ‘new money.’ ‘ The Great Gatsby’ is a ‘progressive’ attack on materialism and corruption of the higher classes, through a Marxist literary lens.

Although Marxism is in some ways an agreeable idea, it is highly unlikely that it will ever come to fruition. It is all very well to say ‘everyone should be equal,’ but the reality is that hardly anybody would be happy with this. Money is still seen as the symbol of success in our world – the more the better, and this isn’t going to change anytime soon. Even in so-called Communist countries, such as Russia it wasn’t a truly communist regime, as there were still a few individuals who held all the power, which is really what Marxism is against. ‘Essentially, the Soviet government, “representing the people”, dictated what people needed and forced its citizens to generate the needed supply in the allotted time’. [8]   People naturally strive to gain power – in their workplace, relationships, over their family, or even whole countries. Promotions, increased responsibility and owning more possessions are all things humans desire in their lifetimes, along with the yearning to better themselves. Everyone is in effect, chasing the ‘green light’, which so often translates to money or power. Gatsby, who was chasing love, actually ends up chasing only these materialistic things to impress his ‘love’.

This classic story is still relevant today, as are the Marxist ideas present in it, which ridicule those wealthier than us, while being fascinated with their lifestyles at the same time. Celebrity news and gossip intrigue us, as do rags-to-riches stories of entrepreneurs or successful people who have come from poverty, or a ‘tough life.’ ‘The Great Gatsby’ is truly a timeless tale, and the popularity of the recent movie rendition in 2013 is testament to this. People love beautiful, unattainable things – whether they be material or otherwise, and they love watching others go on a journey to reach their goals – moving up the ‘class system’ if you will, just as Gatsby did in the roaring jazz age of the 20’s. Coming up to a century later, it’s still exactly the same. Men, even 80 year old, sick and frail ones, ‘win’ young, gorgeous women simply by having fortunes, hard work doesn’t necessarily equal reward, and crime still pays.

Fitzgerald sums up the materialistic theme, and driving force of the characters in ‘The Great Gatsby’ with a quote by Thomas Parke D’Invilliers at the beginning of the book;

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!”

Gatsby tried everything he could think of to ‘move’ Daisy, but it wasn’t enough. He ‘ believed in the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning ’—This closing paragraph of the book admits the futility of the society ‘ The Great Gatsby’ is set in, how people never really get what they want, but still always hold onto hope that one day they will finally have it all.

[1] http://public.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/marxist.crit.html

[2] http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/fitzgeraldbio.html

[1] F. Scott Fitzgerald

[2] Marxist Literary Criticism

[3] F. Scott Fitzgerald

[4] A Marxist Reading of the Great Gatsby

[5] Marxist Literary Criticism

[6] A Marxist Reading of the Great Gatsby

[7] http://prezi.com/ueomohep89ni/marxism-in-the-great-gatsby/

[8] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_was_the_reason_for_the_failure_of_Soviet-style_communism_more_commonly_Bolshevism

[1] Marxist Literary Criticism

[3] Marxist Literary Criticism

[4] F. Scott Fitzgerald

[5] A Marxist Reading of the Great Gatsby

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Political Science graduate / Librarian & book enthusiast / Vegan & food workshipper View all posts by greentea2177

5 thoughts on “ The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Literary Criticism Lens ”

Is this article about how Marxism and the great gatsby published or a scholarly entry ? I am trying to find out for my assignment Thank you

Hey, it’s my high school essay, so not scholarly. But I did research & reference it.

Very interesting thoughts but unfortunately I am having some trouble citing this as a source, could you help me please?

Uh yep, so author’s name is Georgia Harris. Written 2013, for a Lynfield College essay.

I find it interesting that the people that seem to be the most obsessed with money are Marxists. A better lens for the analysis of the novel might be to try a praxeological approach and see why most of the problems that Marxists point to are created by government. But that won’t happen because Marxists love the idea of an all powerful government that can rule us all. If they get the One Ring they will never want to throw it into the volcano on Mount Doom.

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Marxist and feminist lenses - the great gatsby.

            Every character in the Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald is addicted to paper. They all act as paper dolls dependent on paper money to buy commodities that will aid them in their tactics to draw on fake picturesque identities. However, it's not just paper money that is needed to create the perfect illusion of life, but the paper people as well. Everyone in the novel will try to fold or shape other people to satisfy their own selfish desires. An example of this can be viewed when Jay Gatsby, one of the main characters in the novel, attempts to gain the affection of a woman named Daisy. However, it becomes clear that he does not love Daisy as a person, but rather as an asset for his own image. View this situation through a Marxist lens and one can see that Daisy's love becomes a commodity. View this situation through a feminist lens and his feelings are based upon ownership of women. In other words, by looking through marxist and feminist lenses, Gatsby and other characters are revealed to be lured into an artificial material class hierarchy, which unveils that the continuous theme of money hinders Gatsby's interpersonal relationships.              By looking through a marxist lens one can see that ever since Jay Gatsby was a young child he constantly attempted to obtain wealth, which would eventually reveal his destruction of self and of the relationships around him. Gatsby believed that he needed to reach the highest level of the social hierarchy by constructing a new image for himself. However, even when this plan had just been formulated, his methods of using money and relationships to gain social status would prove ineffective. For example, as Nick, the main character of the novel, narrates the story, he says, "The truth was that Jay Gatsby.was a son of God-a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that-and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.

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2. The Great Gatsby - Analytical Essay

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In The Great Gatsby F. ... Flappers also gave a start to the new feminist movement. ... Another female character in The Great Gatsby is Myrtle. ... A feminist reading of The Great Gatsby reveals many issues existed in the society towards women in the 1920's. ... A close reading of The Great Gatsby would also reveal that not all women wanted to achieve equal rights, and followed the old believes of the society. ...

3. Literature Review - The Great Gatsby

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Essay Tom Marxist Lens

Earl Browder once said, “Marxism is an interpretation of history which explains the progress of society as a product of the expansion of the forces of production of the material means of life, that is, the development of economy.” The Great Gatsby fails to commemorate the exhilarating capitalist culture it depicts but instead, reveals its concealed depths of Marxist understanding. Fitzgerald’s novel exemplifies a social commentary of corruption through its grotesque characterization of those at the top of the economic heap. The most adequate way The Great Gatsby mocks ideology exists through the illustration of commodification. Nowhere so clearly does a character embody this as in the character of Tom Buchanan. As the most affluent man in the novel, Tom’s life revolves around money­ he lives for money, for all things are commodities to him.Tom Buchanan’s character represents a Marxist approach to The Great Gatsby through his action by portrayal of social class and the way in which power and wealth are secured and retained. Tom’s marriage to Daisy symbolizes a correspondence of her “golden­girl” status for his strength and stability. As a means to prove his prosperity, he “purchases” her love in a $350,000 worth of pearls. Tom’s commodification of the world allows him to “smash up things and creatures and then retreat back into his money,” regarding the death of Myrtle. (Fitzgerald 167). Tom demonstrates an indifference toward other people. In illustrating him as “careless,” Fitzgerald portrays the upper class as exclusive and therefore, dominant. Although he supposedly cares for Myrtle’s life, his egotism offers otherwise. Even after Tom saw his mistress lying lifeless, he simply ran off with his money and began a new life unaffected by the traumatic experience. In addition, he became (debatebly) morally responsible for Gatsby’s death for he yearned revenge. Tom and Daisy are a classic case of wealthy couples, a corrupt couple, who will do anything to protect themselves only. The sudden disappearance of these two reveals their blatantly impetuous behavior; they are aristocratic and incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions. Stealthily, Daisy satisfies to leave Gatsby because it allows her to break away from the consequence of murder. Even though she loves Gatsby, she unhesitantly escapes to Tom’s safety when the opportunity came. Fitzgerald’s model of American culture discloses the eviscerate effects of capitalism on socioeconomic “winners” such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Similarly, Tom manipulates his prosperity to not only “purchase” Myrtle Wilson, but also various other lower­class women whom he has affairs with. According to the Marxist lens, socioeconomic rank separates people. Fitzgerald portrays this theory by the incommensurate relationship between Tom and his mistress Myrtle­­ paying for an apartment and buying a dog for her. Tom’s overpowering standing presents when he “making a short deft movement, broke her nose with his open hand”(Fitzgerald 40). Here, Tom takes advantage of Myrtle by physically abusing her because he knows she’s dependent upon him. Due to her inferiority, Tom can treat his mistress poorly without any resistance. Tom’s using of women interprets his commodified outlook on interaction that bounds within his relationships.Because capitalism promotes the correlation between the worth of a man based off how much he possesses, Tom validates his value; he considers people as object. For example, to attain Myrtle’s Show More

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