In what ways are the upper class shallow and materialistic in The Great Gatsby?I'm writing an essay connecting how one character's (Gatsby's) inability to escape his past reveal the theme of...

In what ways are the upper class shallow and materialistic in The Great Gatsby?

I'm writing an essay connecting how one character's (Gatsby's) inability to escape his past reveal the theme of shallowness in the upper class.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the dichotomy of the established upper class of the East and the nouveau riche from the Midwest with the two areas of East Egg and West Egg.  When Nick Carraway enters the home of Daisy and Tom Buchanan, it is a house that reflects gold.  Women in white dresses that ripple and flutter as if the women "had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house."

After Nick asks Daisy if she knows Gatsby, she demands, "What Gatsby?" Then, she speaks of missing the longest day of the year.  Clearly, she speaks with Miss Jordan Baker in a "bantering inconsequence." Later, Daisy asks Nick if he is engaged because she says,

"We heard it from three people so it must be true."

In Chapter Three, Gatsby holds parties that mimic those of the upperclass where the guests do not know each other and there are strangers who wear the same dress and people laugh at the same things; laughter spills "with prodigality" much like the shallow laughter of Daisy who calls herself a "silly fool."  Jordan declares ironically that she likes large parties because

"They're so intimate.  At small parties there isn't any privacy."

As to Gatsby's identity, a mystique develops, and rumors circulate that he has killed a man.  In this mimicry of the upper class, Gatsby arranges for Daisy to come to his house with its freshly manicured lawn by pulling out all his shirts and by trying to stand casually by his mantle.   Impressed with all his material possessions, Daisy buries her head in his shirts. With a voice that Nick says "was full of money," Daisy lives in the illusion that money makes everything lovely.  While she allows Gatsby to be totally devoted to her, she will not tell Tom that she does not love him, but turns to Gatsby and cries,

"Oh, you want too much!....I love you now--isn't that enough?"

Far too materialistc, Daisy will not relinquish those things between her and Tom.  In a shallow betrayal of Gatsby, she allows Tom to arrange for Mr. Wilson to believe that it is Gatsby who has struck and killed Mrytle Wilson.  But, while the loyal Gatsby stands outside her window in hopes of protecting Daisy after the accident, Nick notices that Daisy and Tom share "an air of natural intimacy" as though "they were conspiring together"; thus, Gatsby watches over "nothing." For, Daisy allows Jay Gatsby, the man with no background, to become the sacrificial victim to hers and Tom's shallow materialism. 

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