Better Students Ask More Questions.
Writing an essay on morality and wealth in The Great Gatsby: Could someone give me a...
1 Answer | add yours
High School Teacher
Morality is a value-based code of conduct. The basis of a person's values determine his or her sense of right and wrong. In several cases in this novel, wealth is seemingly the sole basis of some characters' basis of morality.
Through these characters we see a single, vaunted value expressed - material wealth. They dream a dream of material success. They dream of glamour. In a way, these are figures in search of the American Dream. However, it is through these characters as well that we see the dangers of such a shallow base for morality.
On the flip side of the American Dream, then, is a naivete and a susceptibility to evil and poor-intentioned people.
The affair undertaken by Tom and Myrtle is a nice place to start. This affair relates to the idea of wealth as a justification for actions (from both sides - Tom and Myrtle). Tom seems to feel his social position, derived solely from financial wealth, sets him above or makes him better than George Wilson.
Tom is demeaning to George Wilson, his mistress's husband, who owns a garage in the wasteland between New York and East Egg.
For her part, Myrtle feels that she is owed the kind of treatment that Tom gives her. Since her husband cannot offer her the kind of oppulent treatment that Tom can, she is justified in carrying on an affair with Tom. We see here again in Myrtle the notion that wealth erases morality.
The primary moral consideration of many characters seems to be related to wealth. Gatsby makes an illegal fortune allowing him to buy many "beautiful shirts" that impress Daisy to such an extent that she is (nearly) willing to leave her husband for the wealthier man.
However, Gatsby and Daisy both have a dream, a romantic notion, which determines their behavior. More than money, it is a dream of true love that guides Gatsby and Daisy to do what they do.
Morality for them remains relative. There is no code of right and wrong, in a conventional sense, that dictates their behavior. Instead, there is a romantic vision of the "right life" that both of them strive to achieve. Gatsby feels that he can accomplish this through Daisy. She, for a while, feels reciprocally but later decides that it is only through Tom that she has a chance to fulfill this vision.
Posted by e-martin on November 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM (Answer #1)
Related QuestionsSee all »
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.