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Great Gatsby Marxism

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Nicole Ohadi

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Great Gatsby Marxism

By Nicole, Andrew & Daniel
What is Marxism?
is a theory created by Karl Marx that states that analyzes society as a class struggle between between the rich and the poor.

It also states that capitalism will ultimately be superseded by communism. Marxism has been traditionally perceived as very radical and the anti-thesis of the American Dream.
In What Ways Does Marxism Relate to the Great Gatsby?
Materialism and the failure of the American Dream

The wealthy class prospers; working class suffers

East Egg vs West Egg vs Valley of Ashes

Women prioritize socio-economic status over love

Unfair privilege
who the hell is Wilson?
who is Wilson?
short description?
what he covers?
(rich prosper, poor suffer)
(american dream failure)

In the Great Gatsby

Questions & Thesis
Great Gatsby is a literary representation of the failures of communism and the need for Marxism

Gatsby goes from rags to riches
Gains wealth illegally
Gatsby is indirectly killed by Tom
Old money > new money
American Dream is a lie
Tom is the oppressive upper class
Tom is the oppressive higher class
Triumphs over Gatsby
Manipulates Myrtle & Wilson
Abhorrent egotistical personality
George is the oppressed lower class
Works the most, gets the least
Abused by Tom and societal values
F. Scott Fitzgerald is a
Jay Gatsby
What ideas does Gatsby represent?
American Dream
Notion of New Money
What Marxist concepts are directly illustrated by Gatsby?
Unfair Privilege
Gatsby's Failure
Failure to get Daisy
Daisy picks stability of traditional wealth
Gatsby's Death
Gatsby pays for Tom's & Daisy's mess
George and Myrtle suffer
American Dream
New rich not as respected
Riches to rags to death
Tom's Materialism
Color Symbolism

- The wife of George Wilson

- Addicted to wealth and fitting in with the higher social class rather than her own

- She cheats on George by having an affair with Tom Buchanan evidently because he is of higher class than Wilson, which fulfills her desire of being up on the social scale

Myrtle Wilson
Daisy Buchanan
- Daisy lives and depends on wealth and materialism, which is why she is married to Tom rather than Gatsby.

- "She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except for me!" ( Fitzgerald 130)

- Her need for socio-economic stability that Tom offers is what she ends up running back to, because she rather stick to her economic stability than experiencing true love with Gatsby.

- "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made..." (Fitzgerald 179)
Money Elevates Social Importance
- Money elevates social importance, BUT it can only elevate your social importance so much.
- Gatsby has a higher social status than Wilson even though they were born with equal opportunities
- Gatsby will never have a higher social status than Tom regardless of how much wealth he acquires
Unfair Justice
- Tom doesn't work but still has a huge fortune
- Interview with the reporter
- Tom's child is automatically ensured upper class status
- Gatsby has to work hard to acquire wealth
- Contrast in opportunities as children

"His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people" (P.82)

Tom vs. Gatsby
Jordan Baker
- Like the Buchanans, Jordan Baker is in the upper class; she is a famous professional golfer

- Jordan has never been seen in the book actually working. - Another demonstration of the Anti-Thesis of the American Dream.

- Idea of working hard to make a wealthy living is defeated as hard work is not demonstrated by the people of the upper class.

- Jordan is shown to be very egotistic (Marxist stereotype of the upper class)
- Gatsby and Tom are not equal in eyes of society

- Same economic wealth, but Tom comes from a wealthier family; new money does not elevate status

- Tom sees Nick as being part of his class, but sees Gatsby as below him

" I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife." (p. 106)

- Tom is an alpha male who always wants to be number one
- Tom spending and showing off his money helps him accomplish being the best in the room
- He feels using wealth is more important than acquiring wealth
- He uses his money to buy and take advantage of respect
- Fitzgerald almost makes Tom impossible NOT to hate
George Wilson
- The Husband of Myrtle Wilson

- He is the hardworking owner of an auto shop

- Resident of the Valley of Ashes

- Kills Gatsby along with himself
What Ideas Does Wilson Represent?
Anti-Thesis of the American Dream
American Dream

is this idea in which people work hard to become successful

- Wilson demonstrates a complete contrast to the concept as he works hard long hours, yet does rise in wealth or status
Lower Class
- Wilson is the direct representation of the
lower class

- He is a hardworking civilian who dwells in the Valley of Ashes

- He does not live the life of luxury like Tom and Gatsby of the upper class, and gets looked down upon and manipulated by the wealthy

Upper Class vs. Lower Class
Conflict Between the Rich and the Poor
- The society is completely divided between the rich and the poor

- Myrtle has an affair with Tom because of his place on the
socio-economic ladder; he is preferred over her own husband

- Tom does not actually have a job, yet his higher status allows him to have power over Wilson and to view, and treat him as inferior.

- Tom takes advantage of Wilson's naivety and manipulates him into thinking it was Gatsby who had killed Myrtle, causing Wilson to murder Gatsby.

The Valley Of Ashes
- The valley of ashes is the abstract representation of the lower class.

- It is a place of desolation and false hope

- the Valley of Ashes shows the dark side of the American Dream where hard working people do not achieve any success.

- The valley is grey, symbolizing the lack of life and hope, in the achromatic, melancholic dale

What Marxism concepts are indirectly illustrated by Gatsby?
- Usually only the rich people are associated with colours.

- Especially green, it's the colour of their fresh cut grass, money, and the light at the end of Tom's deck.

- Along with green, red and white represent East Egg.

- Only colours used to represent the poor is grey, seen in the explanation of the valley of ashes

Gatsby & green light are
American Dream
1) If Gatsby represents the American Dream, what does this say about Fitzgerald views on it?

2) What does Tom's and George's personalities and relationship demonstrate?

3) What do the females roles in Great Gatsby represent in the Marxist interpretation?

Thesis: The Great Gatsby is a literary representation of the failures of capitalism and Fitzgerald is a Marxist
Failure of American Dream?
Unlike George, Gatsby is the living proof of the American Dream

On first glace, he is. But as we dwell deeper we realize it is just an illusion

The American Dream is that one can completely change his or her social class through success. But Gatsby and Tom are never seen as equals
Gatsby represents the concept of "new money"; those that made their own fortunes

They live in a different place, have a different lifestyle, and are never seen as equals with the old rich.

The Marxist interpretation would argue that the concept of "new money" exposes the illusion of social class movement.
Or wait... is he?
"And you found he was an Oxford man," said Jordan helpfully.

"An Oxford man!" He was incredulous.

"Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit."

"Nevertheless he's an Oxford man." (129)
"She's got an indiscreet voice"...

"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly. That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money - that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it... high in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl. (127)
Gatsby acquires his wealth through hard work yet illegally. i.e bootlegging and cheating

He is rewarded well for breaking the law while George lawfully works hard and acquires no wealth

Since Gatsby is the American Dream, Fitzgerald may be showing that in our quest for the American Dream we obsess so much on the outcome that we forget about the morality of our actions
As Gatsby acquires his wealth, he is consumed by materialism.

We slowly begin to see that his love for Daisy has really become the love for what Daisy represents.
Gatsby first tries to acquire riches fairly but soon corrupted by materialism and prospect
of quick money.

"He and this Wolfshiem bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter" (141)
"You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride."

"I'm thirty" , I said, "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor." (Fitzgerald 166)
- "'Let's have some gas!' cried Tom roughly. 'What do you think we stopped for--to admire the view?'
'I'm sick,'... 'Been sick all day.'
'What's the matter?' 'I'm all run down.' 'Well, shall I help myself?' Tom demanded." (Fitzgerald123)
- "He was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn't told him who owned the car"... "He ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog and never even stopped his car." (Fitzgerald 178)
-"We drove on toward death through the cooling twilight" (Fitzgerald, 129)
"He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick." (Fitzgerald 124)
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