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Copy of The Great Gatsby: Through the Lens of Marxism

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ceili lawrence

on 15 May 2013

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Transcript of Copy of The Great Gatsby: Through the Lens of Marxism

The Great Gatsby Four main topics on the Marxist approach: economic power Materialism vs. Spirituality class conflict art, literature, and ideologies " This valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke, and finally, with a transcendent effort of ash-gray men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.. " This quote is an example of economic study. This quote is critiquing industrialism and capitalism. It is also portraying the victims in the working class who have to keep following this routine and feel powerless. The working class has no power to capitalism.The industries are in control and control the working class. #1 Marxism is all about power. Marxism is based on the philosophy of Karl Marx. His major argument was who ever controlled production in a society controls the society itself. The factories would "own" the society. It is mainly about people in power and those who are powerless. It focuses on capitalism and industries taking the power. pg. 27 Another aspect of Marxism shown in The Great Gatsby is through wealth. Wealth is distinguished between classes. Wealth is possible to achieve with out being born into it, in this case explains Jay Gatsby. Poverty, on the other hand, set restrictions. An example in the book is George Wilson who is unable to go West with his wife because he doesn't have enough money. Tom and Daisy can do as they please because they live the life of luxury. In this novel, wealth shows who is holds the most power. Wealth: "Her voice is full of money." This quote goes along with wealth in the novel. Gatsby said this talking about Daisy.This means that she was born rich and will always remain rich. This gives her the power of wealth that she never had to work for. Unlike Gatsby who worked for his money. This is also another example of the area of economic power Karl Marx: #2 "I supposed he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end." #3 In this quote, the reader sees how hard Jay Gatsby had to work to make his name become a known one. He became this "great" man by committing to make money at an early stage in life. He worked his way to where he is now. This is how he gained power. He was not born with the power of money and fortune. Gatsby's life was from rags to riches and Fitzgerald puts an emphasis on his accomplished life by using the adjective "great". The characters are the ones who truly demonstrate Marxist theory through their actions. They follow the act of commodification. Commodification is the thought that you are what you own. One thing this causes you to do is want more and more. This is shown through out the characters in the novel. Tom Buchanan How it is shown: His marriage to Daisy, her beauty is equal with his wealth. His joy in having expensive things He has power over all the women he has affairs with These all bring up his personal wealth because there something he can control. Tom is always wanting to be better than everyone else. Daisy How it is shown: accepting Tom's proposal for money Leaving Gatsby because he has a lower status Lets Gatsby take the blame for Myrtle's death and she got of scotch-free. She seems a little stuck-up and wants the best she can get. The characters: Jay Gatsby How it is shown: How he strives to show off to Daisy through the stuff he buys. His continuous attempted to have daisy If he gets Daisy it will show that he no longer belongs to the same social class and will move up. He is constantly trying to impress people and be what he owns by throwing parties and have a huge group over. All throughout the novel the reader experiences a distinct difference between the definition of power. Power can be found through money, social classes, up bringing, and through materials. F. Scott Fitzgerald chose the central meaning regarding Marxism to let the reader perceive these different powers. Myrtle: “Is it a boy or a girl?”
Dog Owner: "That dog? That dog's a boy."
Tom: "It's a bitch," said Tom decisively. "Here's your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it." Pg.32 #4 This quote shows that Tom is more powerful than Myrtle. Tom aggressively peruses his point that the dog is not a boy, so to suggest that he is in command. He is in command simply because he can through away money not only for one dog but ten dogs. Clearly putting forward the point that, money can buy Myrtle’s emotions and she can have “more” only because he controls her. “It excited him too that many men had already loved Daisy- it increased her value in his eyes.” p.156 #5 It is about capitalism. Gatsby wanted Daisy not because he loved her, but because everyone loved her. He wanted something that was in demand, hard to get--it was all part of his quest for wealth and power. George Wilson Symbol of the working class He doesn’t have that much money considering he even asks Tom for a car. He has been planning for a while to take his wife the place she has always wanted to go. “The West” Mytrle Wilson She is a symbol of the working class and lives in “The Valley of Ashes” She tries to find a better live by being Tom’s Mistress. In that view she gets whatever she wants (a puppy) Also, Myrtle is just an object to Tom, and he uses her whenever he feels like is. “One thing's sure and nothing's surer; The rich get richer and the poor get – children.” Pg. 101 #6 The general idea is that the rich get everything and the poor blame their children. Children cost a lot of money. This also is an example of social classes. The rich have more power over the poor. "I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife.” P.137 #7 By Tom calling Gatsby a Nobody is like saying he real isn’t a part of this upper-class society. Tom comes from old money and Gatsby comes from new money. Tom doesn’t believe Gatsby is one of them so he has no status to him. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry." p.37 "His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all." Nick asks Gatsby why Wolfshiem isn't in jail for fixing the world series
This shows that the educated and wealthier people do not suffer the same punishments as lower people do, because they are privileged. "I cant' complain," answered Wilson unconvincingly. "When are you going to sell me that car?"
"Next week; I've got my man working on it now."
"Works pretty slow, don't he?"
"No he doesn't," said Tom coldly. "And if you feel that way about it, maybe I'd better sell it somewhere else after all." "Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope." People will always judge one another. From money, to houses, to clothes people will always be judging others on the quality and quantity of their things. Therefore there is really no hope that people judging each other will stop. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,"
he told me,"just remember that all the people
in the world haven't had the advantages that
you've had." Superior people judge those who are
not as accomplished or wealthy as them. However
what makes people superior to others? They
have been given opportunities and advantages that
others may have not been able to get. Therefore the
people granted these advantages have a better life then
those who aren't, because they have more power with
their money. Looking through the Marxist lens "Why isn't he in jail?"
"They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man." #8 P.73 Wilson is of a lower class than Tom, so Tom is seen as superior.
When Tom threatens Wilson, you can see that there is separation between the two, and Wilson quickly backed down and submitted to his "superior". P. 25 #9 This represented the corruption of the wealthier
individuals and that they retreated into their money
and power whenever they made a mess of things. #10 p. 76 Gatsby denied his past and the poor family he came from. Because he became a member of a different class, he lies to hide his roots. Coming from a poor family does not give him the power he is working for. #11 p.63 What is capitalism? It is defined as an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market This quote shows the American idea of separation of social classes. #12 p.2 #13 p.1 #14 All of those quotes show our lens in The Great Gatsby. Marxism was a very easy lens to look through. This novel displayed many quotes and characters that were relevant to the Marxist theory. This novel has the overall underlying meaning of having power or being superior to others. Presented by: Cheyenne Hunsinger, Tessa Bucciarelli, Becky O'Neill, Doug McCarthy, Morgan Drungell, and Kenny Moss. #15 "A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of headly excitement: there are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired." This explains the working class. They are always working hard and very tired. They are powerless to the upper class because they work hard for their money that does not compare to the upper class.This also compares to those who work very hard to avoid being know as poor. "It makes me sad because I've
never seen such - such a beautiful
shirt before." #16 p.24 Ideally in the Marxist approach money makes you who you are. This shirt is trying to define how much wealth Gatsby has and that the things he owns are showing off his power through his riches. " It is invariably saddening to look through the new eyes at things upon which you have extended your own powers of adjustment." #17 p. 60 This is referring to one of the most common and difficult faults of communism to get by. The idea of some people working much harder than others, yet those who put significantly less effort into life still reap the same benefits. "When a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it anyway. I keep out. When I was a young man, it was different...I stuck with them to the end..Let us learn to show friendship for a man when he is alive not after he is dead." #18 p. 58 This is saying how when a man is dead he no longer holds any power. He is powerless and should no longer be treated in that way. This quote shows that power only can be present if you are living. Capitalism is a huge factor in the Marxist theory. It is basically money for money. Companies will come and buy things cheap,work on them, then seal them for a more expensive price. This is "necessary" labor to show the power between the different classes. Those working do not have as much overall power as those who own the industries, because they do not have as much wealth.
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