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What quotes are there to describe the "hollowness of the upper class" in The Great Gatsby?

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winnaman | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2011 at 3:31 AM via web

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What quotes are there to describe the "hollowness of the upper class" in The Great Gatsby?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 18, 2011 at 3:47 AM (Answer #1)

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Certainly you have identified one of the major themes of this novel as it depicts the infamous "jazz age" of the 1920s that only really the wealthy were able to enjoy in all its hedonistic decadence. A great place to start if you are trying to identify quotes that support the theme of the hollowness of the upper-class is Chapter Three, that details the first of Gatsby's parties that Nick attends. Key to this description is Nick's opinions of these wealthy upper-class individuals:

Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby, and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behaviour associated with an amusement park.

Clearly this indicates the riotous behaviour that the guests (half of whom invited themselves) engaged in.

You also might like to consider Daisy's famous quote in Chapter Seven:

"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"

Clearly this points towards her own sense of emptiness and futility in her life as she tries to fill it in whatever way she can. According to Nick, of course, upper-class individuals like her only "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness..." and this again points towards the essential hollowness at the heart of the upper-class that Fitzgerald so competently dissects.

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