What are the most obvious examples of greed in The Great Gatsby, and how does this "deadly sin" ruin lives?

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mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

F. Scott Fitzgerald's magnum opus, The Great Gatsby satirizes the materialism of what Fitzgerald himself named the Jazz Age. Indeed, the characters worship at the altar of greed: Daisy's voice sounds like money and she has been purchased as a wife for a $350,000 pearl necklace;Tom Buchanan brings dozens of polo ponies with him from Chicago to East Egg and proudly displays his property to his guests; Jay Gatsby re-creates himself and amasses a fortune merely for the sake of having one to display to win back the past and Daisy; he offers his rewards for his illegal greed by hosting lavish parties where no one knows any one else, parties which Jordan Baker describes as "so intimate" because "there isn't any privacy." Meyer Wolfshiem sells his soul for gambling  upon the World Series; Jordan cheats in order to win golf tournaments and prizes; Mrytle Wilson gives herself as human sacrifice to the false pretenses of money. 

After the death of Mrytle Wilson, Jay Gatsby is the only rich man who demonstrates compassion for anyone else, causing Nick to remark that he is "worth the whole damn bunch," of the "careless people" whose immoral materialism and greed are incurable.

kapokkid's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

I would consider the most obvious example that of Daisy who wasn't capable of waiting until Gatsby got back from Europe and needed to feel the comfort and security of great wealth.  This was at least part of the reason she was attracted to Tom and it could certainly be argued that it ruined not only her life but Gatsby's as well.

Gatsby's greed and hunger for things he cannot have, such as the approval of Daisy and her crowd that can only come from having old money, or for Daisy herself leads to ruin for Gatsby and for Daisy in some ways.  You might also make the argument that it leads to ruin for Wilson and Myrtle as their great conflict leads at least in part to Myrtle's death on the road.


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