The Great Gatsby: A Marxist View

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Struggle in class is a central element in the analysis of social change in western societies; the basis of the perspective is economics. This is known as the Marxist theory. Marxism was created by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism was a philosophy that said that the current government systems of the time (capitalism and democracy) were not the best and would lead to a revolution. The quote above claims that capitalism will separate the rich from the poor and the poor from the rich, and this will be bad because when the gap becomes so huge, people in the lower social classes will be forced to revolt and create a new form of government. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby depicts the division between social classes and establishes ‘West Egg’ and ‘East Egg’ as the most important classes with one in a higher position than the other. The division between the two groups is created due to a difference between the newly wealthy and the ones with the “old money”, respectively.

A Marxist could analyse part of Gatsby’s life as the eye-opener that he commenced life as the son of ‘shiftless and unsuccessful farm people’ and since, have been constantly prepared to change his financial standing (Fitzgerald 99). As this movement slightly reinforces the corrupt financial divide between wealthy and non-wealthy as opposed to demolishing the system completely, the Marxist approach would not understand this as an accomplishment. The Great Gatsby is set in two areas in New York known as ‘West Egg’ and ‘East Egg’ (Fitzgerald 3). Nick Carraway says that he studied at Yale, and fought in World War I shortly after. He goes to New York City to learn the bond business: “a set of newly purchased ‘volumes on banking and credit and investment securities’ will ‘unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew’ ” (LITTLE 1). According to Nick, East Egg is the prosperous one of the two. Jay Gatsby, regardless of everything he’s got, lives in West Egg. It could possibly mean that Gatsby, himself, has not become part of the most important people at East Egg. For the main role, Gatsby could be considered as an especially wealthy young man. Power and life on either Egg keep Gatsby further from Daisy Buchanan, the woman he has an affair with.

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The story takes place soon after World War I, during Prohibition, in the early 1920s. At this time, drinking was completely banned. Alcohol was only definitely forbidden since many people produced, traded, and consumed liquor nevertheless—including many figures in the story, who seem to be regularly drunk, especially Gatsby, for he obtained his capital illegally. Still, it’s not entirely wine and cars. George Wilson and Myrtle Wilson occupy a completely separate setting: the old valley of ashes that connects the unusual worlds of the Eggs. In the Jazz age of the 1920s, the quantity of capital one had established the level one would be in. Though there was the classification of ‘rich’, there were sub-groups, like protected or ‘old’ money, which is where families have been wealthy for many generations. ‘New’ money is moderately glared against and viewed on with mistrust and disdain by the society, who pride themselves on having been prosperous for generations. This time period, along with the stipulations of that time, is critical to the story due to the fact that Gatsby is of a wealthy status due to his bootlegging business. The social setting is a group of wealthy, educated people those with a carefree, fun lifestyle, often spent around parties or gatherings and have little concern over people who are not included in their social environment.

Fitzgerald’s characters represent Marxist ideas, through his representation of the different classes, and his interpretation of how their class defines their life. As mentioned before that this story was written according to the post-World War I, where Fitzgerald, Carraway and Gatsby all fought in. Nevertheless, it doesn’t signify the ongoing capitalist society it represents but unveils the hidden side of culture at the time. It brings out how the chase of property weakens individual excellence, as seen with Gatsby when he failed all the things he had, because of the goal he had to ‘reach the top of the ‘heap’’ (LITTLE 14). The richer characters, like Daisy and Tom, and the ones who take part in Gatsby’s gatherings are truly the most offensive and foolish ones, creating an image of the ‘American Dream’ which was the climax of American aim in the ‘Roaring 20’s’. Fitzgerald’s position would seem to be significant of the upper class, as conclusively the elegant characters come to troubled passings, but, accidentally or not, the stereotypes are reinforced of the separate classes and describes underprivileged people in a moderately un-affirmative standing. The class that the novel represents in the most assertive data is the storyteller, Nick Carraway, himself, who is from a middle-class household and appears to be the only one happy with his lot in life. Nick’s sense of community is really alike to Fitzgerald’s. As although Nick grows from a wealthier family than Fitzgerald, the author was essentially raised as if he were rich, so would be used to surrounding himself with people like Nick, things are seen from a different perspective. His can see things objectively due to his social state. There are Tom and Daisy who both come from moneyed families who know about and have been ‘in the money’ for ages. Then there’s George and his wife Myrtle, who both symbolise the inferior working class and eventually the one who began life, a low class and jumped up in the business with his implausibly obtained money – Gatsby. Throughout the novel, needy people are represented in a very contrary way. While the rich are the people who have all the fun by attending parties and having frivolous romances, the less well-off citizens live in a ‘valley of ashes,’ where men move ‘dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air’ (Fitzgerald 23). It would seem that Fitzgerald is indicating that money makes you an interesting and happy citizen, while lack of this inevitably leads to a boring, ‘grey’ life in the valley of ashes. Marxism would dispute this, as Marx wants classes to be overthrown, implying that everyone is capable of living in the same standards as each other, and are therefore all equal. It is, however, an accurate depiction of the 20s, where the focus was very much on living the high life, as the men were fresh out of war and wanted to enjoy themselves. This composition of literature is most definitely a product of the era it came of, and the opinions that society had.

The Great Gatsby is quite focused on the topic of money and how it will surely influence one’s life. Money, wealth and class are fundamental issues which support the development, and the way in which characters act, think, associate with the other characters, also are portrayed. Power and money are intricately correlated, as having one typically – but not always implies the other is present while requiring one means the other is absent. From a Marxist perspective, the plot’s most obvious flaw is its unsympathetic rendering of George and Myrtle Wilson as the story’s delegates of the lower class. George and Myrtle try to enhance their lot the only way they know how. They are dupes of capitalism because the only way to win in a capitalist economy is to succeed in a market. The plot is also flawed, by Nick’s interests of Gatsby. He tells us at the start of the novel, that Nick came to the West to learn the bond business; later he indicates that he’s also in New York so that he may “enjoy the company of men and to escape the increasing social expectations back in the Midwest”, where he is being urged to marry (Froehlich 210). While it is clear that Gatsby is not making use of the things that he owns, it is certain that we would. Therefore another hole in the plot, specifically from a Marxist prospect, is how the commodity’s demand is actively reinforced for the audience by the luxurious style used to describe this world of leisure and gratification.

This traditional narrative is still important at the present, the same as the Marxist concepts being in it, which expose those richer while being overwhelmed by their lifestyles at the same time. People admire impressive, unattainable objects – whether they denote material or differently, and they enjoy seeing others continue on a mission to approach their goals – going up a class, just as Gatsby did in the roaring age of jazz in the 1920s. An era new, it’s still precisely identical. Men, of different ages, obtain young, impressive women solely by having fortunes, hard work doesn’t certainly earn any reward, and corruption still pays. Fitzgerald sums up the materialistic motive and strength of the characters in The Great Gatsby with a quote by Thomas Parke D’Invilliers at the beginning of the book.

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The Great Gatsby: A Marxist View. (2022, Aug 30). Retrieved from

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