Money Changes Everything?Does wealth necessarily lead to moral corruption? That's certainly what Fitzgerald seems to be getting at in The Great Gatsby, but I'm not sure it's that simple. I wonder...

Money Changes Everything?

Does wealth necessarily lead to moral corruption? That's certainly what Fitzgerald seems to be getting at in The Great Gatsby, but I'm not sure it's that simple. I wonder if Daisy--or any of the other monied characters--would have really turned out differently if they had been poor. Maybe there was something fundamentally flawed about them to begin with. Any ideas?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I do not think money leads to moral corruption, but it does make moral corruption easier.  There are a lot of people who want money and are willing to do anything to get it.  Once you have money, a lot of new doors for corruption open for you.  The money is not the cause.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The characters in this novel all exhibit a willingess to be fooled. Maybe Jordan is an exception, yet she plays with the rest of the group, especially Nick, and seems willing to fool herself about love.

Perhaps we see the idea of a "false perception" or of "falsely defined difference" from the very first, when we are introduced to East Egg and West Egg which differ from a distance only by the color of the light on the water denoting their locations.

Such a difference is superficial, yet makes a tremendous difference to the people who inhabit these worlds - east and west Egg.

So, I'd say that we can point to some evidence that the flaws in these characters have more to do with perception issues than with wealth.

Wealth is just another fantasy, another falsely conceived notion for those who are prepared to believe anything that makes them feel good about themselves.

accessteacher's profile pic

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

Posted on

I think I am with you in that I don't necessarily agree that it is wealth by itself per se that resulted in Gatsby's downfall. I think other character flaws and other characters in particular had their part to play and exerted a much bigger influence over poor Gatsby. At the end of the day I guess it was Daisy that was his downfall. While wealth of course can be a downfall it is not always the explanation.

alexb2's profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I think it's pretty clear throughout human history that wealth certainly allows corruption on a greater scale! In terms of the book itself, George Wilson is a good character to look at. He is poor, but he is morally corrupted by his wife's affair and his own anger, not by money in and of itself. Although, I guess you could argue that it was the pursuit of the monied life that drove him to murder... I don't think Fitzgerald spares anyone, but the theme of money giving people more access to corruption is definitely a big one.

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