Today, we would define ‘man’ as representing the human race. What is human nature? Human nature refers to the patterns of behavior typical to that of mankind. Every man has both good and evil in him. Sometimes the good may take control or sometimes the evil can get the best of a person. One usually has many traits that make one a man, things like being respectful, loving, and selfish are among the many things that it is in man’s nature to be.
Selfishness is defined merely as “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others” (Merriam Webster).
Most people assume that selfishness is both wrong and unhealthy. A selfish person tends to put one’s own needs before the needs of others. The needs of one are just as important as the needs of others. One has to be able to draw a line between being too selfish and just trying to have a better life.
Being selfish requires caring only about what one wants and not what the rest of society strives for as a whole. In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it is evident through the characters that it is in man’s nature to be selfish through the act of cruelty, greed, and manipulating others to achieve a goal.
It is in man’s nature to be selfish; this is shown through the act of cruelty. Cruelty is shown in the novel when Nick is speaking about Tom’s behaviour. “Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward … It was a body capable of enormous leverage — a cruel body” (Fitzgerald, 9). This quote shows how Tom Buchanan has changed over time. When Nick knew Tom in college years he was very friendly and wonderful to be around. Nick now realizes that Tom’s characteristics have changed from nice and friendly to cruel and abusive.
Tom’s character represents the selfishness, arrogance, and cleverness in people of society. Another example of Tom’s cruelty is also through being abusive. Although Tom is not physically abusive, he definitely causes Daisy some emotional abuse. Tom mistreats and uses Daisy, carrying on another relationship without caring how Daisy feels. Tom does what he needs to get what he wants, thus proving he is a selfish and cruel man. Cruelty is also evident in many works of life, even years ago. Adolf Hitler is the world’s number one cruelest person, caring only about his ountry and their desires. “It’s clear why the Nazi leader is number one … He had intention to create a new order where Nazi Germans would be dominant, so he built a lot of gas chambers where he killed somewhere between 11 and 14 million people, mostly Jews” (10 Cruelest Leaders Ever). Hitler is only one of the many world leaders who show cruelty. Hitler was cruel to Jews and exterminated them. He had set up gas chambers and concentration camps where Jews were put to work and ultimately died. Hitler, once in power of Germany, was very anti-Semitic meaning he had a deep hatred for Jews.
Those who were put in the gas chambers were manipulated to think they were just taking showers, but all it took for death was 15 minutes in a chamber full of the deadly Zyklon-B gas. Hitler was a leader who just wanted power for his country and did not even worry about the surrounding world. He was a very selfish and cruel man in that manner. Hitler killed millions of people, Jews who disobeyed his orders were immediately sent to death, and those who did obey him were killed at a later time. This shows how unfair and concerning life can be and that one will always encounter rude, self-centered selfish people.
In addition, being selfish is among many of the things it is in man’s nature to be, which can be proven through greed. Tom and Daisy are just two of the many characters in the novel who show greed, relying on their money for everything they do. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money … and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald, 114). Tom and Daisy lived in the Eat Egg which represented old money. Old money was money passed down from generation to generation.
Tom and Daisy were very dependent on their money as they grew up in a family line of wealth. They do not clean up the messes they make and rely on their money to get out of their duties. By having the amount of money they do, they have become very dependent on it. They are very selfish with their money as well; they do not let anyone come in the way of gaining more money. Tom and Daisy’s flaw is the fact that Tom will not let Daisy do anything to benefit herself, rather, uses the money for his use only. By using greed throughout life, one is unable to learn how to do things for themselves.
Having greed is even shown today in society. Facebook is among many of the companies who use IPO (initial public offering) to make their profit larger, thus, being greedy by gaining money off of the public. There was greed: executives and insiders made the IPO primarily a way to enrich their own fortunes – rather than the company’s – and their stock dump accounted for 57% of the shares sold in the offering (reinforcing the old joke that IPO stands not for initial public offering, but insider profit opportunity) (Moore).
Facebook is a very greedy company. The initial public offering or IPO for Facebook was a joke to them because they use it to gain money their personal use, pocketing it. The greed shown is a whole new way of running a company. They made the IPO a way to make their profit lager instead of benefiting the company, as supposed to do. As shown in the quote, the IPO no longer stands for what it is supposed to, rather for insider profit joke. The company is being very selfish through greed and making a lot of money off of this strategy.
Greed is a quality that is found in many areas of life and it shows selfishness at its best. Furthermore, being manipulative to achieve a goal is another example of man’s nature to be selfish. Gatsby is manipulative towards Nick in order to find love with Daisy. “I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests that had actually been invited. People were not invited—they went there” (Fitzgerald, 46). This quote shows Gatsby manipulating Nick to fall in love with Daisy.
Gatsby had many parties in which Nick was formally invited to. People who went to the parties did not get formally invited to them, they just went. Gatsby went out of his way to invite Nick to ensure that he would introduce him to Daisy (who was the love of his life). In return Nick would have to do something nice for Gatsby and that is how manipulation is evident. Nick does not realize this at first, however later on he learns that he was just being manipulated by Gatsby. Gatsby did everything he could to just meet Daisy; this is why he used Nick in this way.
Gatsby achieved his goal of meeting Daisy through Nick but this ultimately caused his downfall in the novel. This was truly an act of selfishness on Gatsby’s part by using Nick not as a friend but to meet Daisy. Using manipulation to achieve something is a very common thing in today’s society. Winston S. Churchill is one of the world’s top manipulators to accomplish a goal. “There are men in the world who derive as stern exaltation from the Proximity of disaster and ruin, as others from success. Winston S. Churchill 1874–1965) … The world is filled with skilled morality manipulators. These people are very threatening to your personal integrity … Morality and guilt manipulators are out there at every level” (Morality Manipulators). Winston Churchill was a British Prime Minister during World War II. Churchill was a manipulator but did not use manipulation in a bad way. He used it to get the crowd on his side during his speeches; he had many qualities that allowed him to do so. However, crowd manipulators and morality manipulators can be very threatening to personal honour.
In fact, at times, when Churchill was very serious about the topics he was speaking about; it would often be a scary thing to watch. Churchill was one of the best manipulators of all time to achieve a goal. Britain was very lucky to have Churchill on their side for war as it was him who was able to manipulate the crowds to get them on their side. Churchill was still a selfish man however, but he was selfish for his country not for his personal needs. Therefore, manipulation is among many of the qualities that one would attain to be selfish, thus, not wanting to be this way.
In conclusion, throughout The Great Gatsby, there are many elements that show it is in man’s nature to be selfish, whether it be through cruelty, greed or manipulation. These three traits are among the many ways to show how man is selfish. The act of cruelty shows selfishness by being cruel to others because one only cares about oneself. Greed through using ones money to attain money for their personal use. Manipulation to achieve a goal through only caring about one’s own needs that they hurt other people. Being selfish takes a lot, mainly caring only about the things one strives for the most in life such as wealth.
One would have to act in a terrible way to achieve selfishness and it is not a quality one would like to obtain. Works Cited Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. Print. Moore, Heidi. “Facebook’s IPO Debacle: Greed, Hubris, Incompetence … ” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 23 May 2012. Web. 7 Nov 2012. “Morality Manipulators. “Building Yourself. n. d. Web. 8 Nov 2012. “Selfish. ” Merriam-Webster. n. d. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. “10 Cruelest Leaders Ever. ” Urban Titan. n. d. Web. 7 Nov 2012.
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