Money as "Sixth Sense"Somerset Maughman said that "money is the sixth sense without which which the other five senses cannot operate properly."(One of the most famous barbs in literature...

Money as "Sixth Sense"

Somerset Maughman said that "money is the sixth sense without which which the other five senses cannot operate properly."

(One of the most famous barbs in literature is FSF's pronouncement "The rich are different from you and me," to which Hemingway responded, "Yes.  They have more money.")

How do you see this being true of the characters is Gatsby?  When are the senses fooled by this way of thinking?  Was Hemingway right, or does the ability to seek and make money propel success in American society?

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litteacher8's profile pic

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

Posted on

This is a very interesting perspective.  I would say that money clouds judgment, and it is a lens through which we see things.  People with money think a certain way, and people without money think a certain way.

e-martin's profile pic

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

Posted on

I'd say that the comment of the novel, in the end, suggests that the percieved difference between the rich and the not-rich does not go beyond mere perception. The differences, if there are any, are superficial, at best, and probably just imagined.

The question you ask as to whether or not the ability to freely pursue wealth might propel American virtues, if I can put it that way, is a very interesting proposition and one that I would agree with on instinct. Because it is possible to believe that we have no limits, no fixed potential, we think of ourselves in a sort of "expansive context". We feel empowered. We feel potentially great.

That seems good.

gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

 

Money in Gatsby operates less like a sense than like a force of nature. It is electricity and gravity; it gives things and people an intense charge, and it distorts them, drawing others to them. That's part of Gatsby's allure: he did successfully transform himself (at least for a while), and raise himself to wealth. Daisy and Gatsby seem to have more…current running through them than other people.

 

Greg

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Money seems to be a very sensual experience for Daisy, even though she lacks intrinsic "worth" or solidity of character.  Money seems embodied in Tom, who, a rich man, has a powerful build, commanding presence, and exudes authority --"bankrupt" though that authority may be. As for Gatsy, he has money but lacks real aesthetic values, in part, perhaps, because he lacks the education that would differentiate genuine from fake beauty, which is why he drives about in "service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty."

Money and sensuality do seem to go hand-in-hand.  One of my most favorite lines in Gatsby and anywhere, really, regarding Daisy is, "Her voice is full of money."  Everyone seems to intuitively know what this means.  Daisy has that voice that sounds like the jangling of coins and the crisp shuffling of bills, the lyrical lilt of the elite class.   Daisy's voice is the sound of "old money" while Gatsby's has the roughness and practiced artistry of the noveau riche. 

What other characters do you, or other, find appealing to the senses?  Are all of the characters' senses effected by money or the lack of it?  For example, the crowds that flock to Gatsby's estate often remind me of moths to the flame.  Not only are they attracted by the sensual light, but they are destined to burn out in a ashen blaze. 

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Money seems to be a very sensual experience for Daisy, even though she lacks intrinsic "worth" or solidity of character.  Money seems embodied in Tom, who, a rich man, has a powerful build, commanding presence, and exudes authority --"bankrupt" though that authority may be. As for Gatsy, he has money but lacks real aesthetic values, in part, perhaps, because he lacks the education that would differentiate genuine from fake beauty, which is why he drives about in "service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty."

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