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An Analysis of The Great Gatsby

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John Stewart

on 20 February 2013

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Transcript of An Analysis of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby Daisy Buchanan: Characters Daisy Buchanan Tom Buchanan Nick Carraway Jay Gatsby Myrtle Wilson George Wilson Catherine Meyer Wolfsheim Dan Cody sister friends friends friends cousins Yale affair affair Social Classes Upper Class Middle Class Lower Class Dan Cody Tom Buchanan Daisy Buchanan Nick Carraway George Wilson Myrtle Wilson Meyer Wolfsheim Jordan Baker friends romance Jordan Baker Catherine Dan Cody Tom Buchanan Daisy Buchanan George Wilson Myrtle Wilson Meyer Wolfsheim Jordan Baker Old Money New Money No Money Jay Gatsby Jay Gatsby Although there are three main classes; upper class, middle class, and lower class, these can be divided even further.

In The Great Gatsby, social classes divide even further into, old money, new money, and no money.

East Egg represents old money:

Old money families are families which have had a lot of money for a very long time. They are families that have created a number of great social connections. Old money families are well educated and have specific social behaviors. People from East Egg look down on people from West Egg because they are not from old money and do not typically have the social behaviors and education as the East Eggers do.

West Egg represents new money:

The new money families typically became wealthy after the 1920's boom and have no social connections like the old money families do. They tend to buy crazy things and show off their wealth. A lot of new money people acquired their money illegally, such as bootlegging.

The Valley of Ashes represents no money:

The no money class is overlooked and includes people with low income jobs who live in smaller houses. They are poor and do not strive for the American Dream like old and new money classes do. They can also be named the working class. Tom Buchanan: About the Characters Nick Carraway: Tom Buchanan is the husband of Daisy Buchanan. He was also born into wealth and is of the upper class, old money. Tom lives in a beautiful house in East Egg with Daisy and his daughter, Pammy.

Tom is described as a large, muscular brute of a man. He is referred to as a hulk. He is an excellent athlete and used to be a football star. Tom was also educated at Yale and enjoys reading large books. Tom is known to have a racial attitude.

Tom Buchanan is a very selfish and careless man. He does what he wishes, regardless of the consequences. Tom has an affair with Myrtle Wilson, and knows that he is hurting Daisy by having this affair, but he does not care.

Not only is Tom Buchanan unfaithful, he is also abusive. Tom has abused both Daisy and Myrtle. He hit Myrtle, breaking her nose, and turned Daisy's knuckle black and blue. He is a cruel, hard man and is a prime example of the shallowness and carelessness of the rich. In almost all situations, Tom has the upper hand. He loves to control other peoples lives. Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby. Nick is a plain, straightforward, honest guy who is very well built. He is a handsome young man who turns thirty during the novel. Nick falls into the category of middle class.

Nick starts as an outsider in the East Coast and slowly starts to become involved in the conflicts and issues that surround him. He provides the moral judgement of the events and people that he meets and experiences.

Nick was raised in the Midwest in Minnesota but moved to the East Coast to get a job in the bond business. Nick buys a small bungalow in West Egg and is the neighbor of Jay Gatsby, a very mysterious man. He meets up with Daisy Buchanan, who is his cousin and later takes part in the reuniting of Gatsby and Daisy.

Nick is seen as naive and innocent throughout the novel. He experiences the lifestyle of the wealthy people of the East Coast. At first, he dislikes Gatsby and his over the top parties and found himself intimidated by Meyer Wolfsheim, a man who rigged the World Series and got away with it. Nick meets a young woman named Jordan Baker who he grows feelings for, but also feels shame for Jordan because she can't stop lying and cheating. Nick discovers that Tom Buchanan is cheating on Daisy with a mistress, and that Daisy does nothing about it. He learns that the rich all have one thing in common; they are careless, selfish, and have no proper morals or values. In the end, Nick only comes to respect Jay Gatsby.

Through Nick's experiences on the East Coast he learned a number of things. He decides to move back to the Midwest, and never return to the crazy life of the East Coast and it's careless dramatic ways.
Daisy Buchanan is a beautiful, flirtatious woman who has a voice that is mysterious, intriguing, thrilling, and sensuous. Her voice catches the attention of all. Daisy's voice is full of money. Her voice leads the listener to believe that what she has to say is always exciting and interesting. All characters in The Great Gatsby are drawn to Daisy because of her voice.

Daisy is a fun-loving woman, and is a flirt. When she has a conversation with someone, it is always charmingly sassy and entertaining. Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, describes Daisy as having an irresistible charm.

She was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and was the most popular, beautiful girl in the area. She was referred to as, "The Golden Girl". Daisy was born into a wealthy family and as she grew older, she married Tom Buchanan, a wealthy hulk of a man and moved to East Egg. Together they had a daughter, Pammy. Daisy is classified as upper class, old money.

Daisy Buchanan seems to be perfect, but has flaws alike everyone else. Although Daisy is very charming and sweet, she is also very careless, a dreamer, and is very selfish and materialistic. Since Daisy is so wealthy, she does what she wants and doesn't worry about the consequences that follow, making her careless. She is a dreamer because she strives for the unreachable American Dream and wishes to be with Jay Gatsby, a man she loved five years prior. Since Daisy was born into wealth, she became selfish and materialistic by nature. Jay Gatsby is an extremely wealthy young man who lives in a mansion in West Egg. Gatsby is well known for the extravagant parties he throws every Saturday night, filled with exciting activities and interesting people. He is a very mysterious man, and no one really seems to know much about him, only false rumors. Jay Gatsby is a part of the upper class, and would be placed in the new money group.

As the novel progresses, we discover that Jay Gatsby's true birth name is James Gatz and that he was born on a farm in North Dakota. Gatsby did not want to be a farmer so he re-invented himself and began working with a millionaire by the name of Dan Cody. Dan Cody aided Gatsby and taught him how to become rich and reach his American Dreams. After this, we learn that Gatsby has earned his money through illegal activities like bootlegging.

Gatsby is in love with a woman by the name of Daisy Buchanan. However, Daisy is married to Tom so they cannot be together. Gatsby is willing to do anything to win Daisy, and worked hard to earn a lot of money, and buy a huge home just to impress her.

Gatsby is seen as a flawed man who is dishonest, but very optimistic. Gatsby has the ability to transform most of his dreams into reality. Unfortunately, Gatsby was murdered by George Wilson for a crime he did not commit at the end of the novel. Nobody came to his funeral. Jay Gatsby: Jordan Baker: Jordan Baker is a very dishonest, careless, beautiful woman. She is a professional golfer. Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker once had a romantic interest in each other.

Jordan Baker is described as cynical and hard. She is a person who has seen and heard too much to be lied to. Jordan realizes that appearances are deceiving. She is a liar, a cheater and cheated to win in her first golf tournament. Jordan hates the idea of being below others always wants an advantage. She dislikes shrewd men because they may have an advantage over her, and stop her from getting what she wants.

Jordan was born into a wealthy family and is in the upper class, old money group. She lives with her aunt in her aunt's apartment in New York. She is a spoiled girl due to her wealth and takes things for granted. This is also the reason why she is such a careless woman and expects things to happen for her. In order to truly understand the characters in The Great Gatsby, you have to know their background and what they were born into. There are certain characteristics and traits which define their social structure and class. Common qualities of people in the upper class:
careless
selfish
materialistic, shallow
unhappiness

Examples: Every single person in the Great Gatsby is connected to money. Nick, Daisy, Tom, and Jordan come from wealthy families. George tries to sell cars to earn money so he can take his wife away because he suspects that she is having an affair. Meyer Wolfsheim rigged the World Series to become rich. Dan Cody taught Jay Gatsby the tips and tricks to become wealthy, and speak like those of old money. The social structure and classes of New York, East Egg, West Egg, and the Valley of Ashes all revolve around money, and social status. The newly rich are seen as bold, buying extravagant but stupid things, and lacking in social graces, taste and education. For example, Gatsby is of the newly rich. He lives in a giant mansion, drives a Rolls-Royce, and wears a pink suit. Jay Gatsby is terrible at picking up on small social signals and therefore is lacking in social graces.

The old aristocracy however seem to possess grace, taste, and elegance. For example, the beautiful Buchanan home and how Daisy and Jordan wear white flowing dresses.

At the same time, the old money families seem to lack heart and prove to be careless and disrespectful. They are seen as bullies who are so used to being wealthy that they become careless and aren't bothered if they hurt others and cause terrible consequences. In shorter form,
Old money Class:
People who inherited their money and passed it down through the generations.

New money Class:
People who earned money through various businesses after the war.
Tom Buchanan told George Wilson that the car that murdered Myrtle was Gatsby's. He did not care about what would happen to Gatsby, and Daisy did not tell anyone that she was the one driving the car that killed Myrtle, allowing Gatsby to be murdered for a crime he did not commit, but took blame for out of love.

"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)
Jay Gatsby shows the selfishness of the upper class by wanting more even after he had won Daisy's affection and attention. Gatsby wanted Daisy to tell Tom that she never loved him.

"He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." (Fitzgerald, 109)

This quote shows that Gatsby was expecting a lot out of Daisy and couldn't just accept her love for how it was, it had to be more. Gatsby's illegal activities to become rich. (bootlegging) Myrtle wishes for money and to be in a higher social class. She is very materialistic.
Daisy is a very materialistic woman. When she sees all the beautiful shirts that Jay Gatsby owns, she is overwhelmed.

"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such - such beautiful shirts before." (Fitzgerald, 92)
When Tom revealed the truth about how Gatsby became wealthy, Daisy became even more depressed and unhappy than she already was.

"But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room." (Fitzgerald, 134) Myrtle Wilson: Myrtle Wilson is classified in the lower class, or no money class. She is married to George Wilson and lives in a garage/house. Myrtle is having an affair with Tom Buchanan and believes that Tom loves her.

Myrtle is very unhappy in marriage with George and is attracted to Tom for several reasons. Tom is very controlling, and manly, Myrtle loves this because George is neither of these things.

She is described as a thickish, materialistic woman who is not very attractive and is in her mid thirties. She is hit by a car and killed at the end of the novel. Ironically, Tom's wife Daisy was the one who hit her. George Wilson: George Wilson is married to Myrtle Wilson. His wife does not love him and does not respect him because he does not have the qualities that she wants him to possess.

George Wilson is a blond, spiritless man who is faintly handsome and pale. He appears to be lifeless, exhausted, sad, and is poor. He is in the lower class and the no money class. George is a hardworking man and tries his best to provide for his wife. He owns a garage in the Valley of Ashes.

George believes that the billboard of T.J. Eckleburg symbolizes God's eyes, and that Myrtle will be punished for her adultery. Despite this, Wilson still feels guilty for his wife's death and goes out to kill the murderer, who he is lead to believe is Gatsby. Once he has shot Gatsby, he commits suicide. Catherine: Catherine is Myrtle Wilson's sister. She is not mentioned a lot in the novel The Great Gatsby. Catherine has bright red hair, and wears a lot of makeup.

When she speaks with Myrtle, she is highly opinionated but also respectful. She compliments Myrtle's dress, but Myrtle replies in a way that makes her sound snotty and materialistic.

Although Catherine is a minor character she shows her commitment and loyalty to her sister when she gives a statement saying that Myrtle did not know Gatsby in any way, shape, or form once he was murdered by George Wilson. Meyer Wolfsheim: Meyer Wolfsheim is a very mysterious and uneducated man. He is a business associate and a friend of Jay Gatsby.

Meyer Wolfsheim rigged the World Series, and became very rich, therefore putting him in upper class. He is also in the newly rich class because he is poorly educated. He lives in New York and is a shady character. He leads the readers to initially believe that Gatsby is involved in illegal business.

Although Jay Gatsby and Meyer Wolfsheim were close friends and business partners, Meyer Wolfsheim refused to go to Gatsby's funeral. Dan Cody: Dan Cody is a coarse man who made a lot of money from the Gold Rush. He owned a yacht and was Gatsby's mentor when Gatsby was a young man. Dan Cody provided Gatsby with a taste of the upper class and left him a sum of money when he passed. Gatsby however did not receive this money, Dan Cody's ex wife did. Social Structure and Classes The Great Gatsby revolves around social structure and classes. It explores the sociology of wealth, and how the new money millionaires of the 1920's relate to the old money families. West Egg represents the newly rich, and East Egg represents the old aristocracy. Unhappiness Materialistic Selfish Carelessness Characters are not the only thing in The Great Gatsby that relate to social structure and classes. There are a few themes, symbols, and locations that relate to social structure and classes as well! Locations East Egg Home to the upper class, specifically the old money class. Daisy and Tom Buchanan live here. West Egg Home to some upper class people. Generally the area where the newly rich people live and are frowned upon by the East Eggers. The Valley Of Ashes Home to the lower class people, the no money people. Also known as the working class. The Valley of Ashes is depressing and dirty. "I lived at West Egg - well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contract between them." (Fitzgerald, 5) "Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of summer really begins on the evening I drove over to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans." (Fitzgerald, 5) "This is the 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 transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air." (Fitzgerald, 23) If you live in East Egg, you are to criticize and look down on the West Eggers and those who live in the Valley of Ashes. You are to believe that you are better than them because you come from old money. Themes Fun Fact Jay Gatsby has more money than Tom Buchanan, but is still considered to be of a lower class than Tom. The American Dream The American Dream is the idea of being successful, becoming rich, popular, getting what you want and being happy. It was once a dream which showed perseverance, hope, and the idea of success against all odds.

Due to social structure and classes, the American Dream is dead. Wealth, privilege, and lack of humanity, values, and morals have killed the American Dream. Wealth has replaced hope and success with materialism.

Many of the characters in The Great Gatsby show the theme of how the American Dream is dead. For instance, Jay Gatsby pursued the American Dream. He re-invented himself to become a rich aristocrat, buying a huge mansion, nice car, and number of material possessions. Gatsby's main goal was to win back the affections of Daisy Buchanan.

However, due to Gatsby's illegal ways of making money and the division of social classes between himself and Daisy, this dream could never come true. Gatsby could never achieve his American Dream because it was dead. Society and its social classes and lack of values and morals murdered it. Daisy retreated back to her money and carelessness because she is very materialistic, making Gatsby's American Dream impossible. East vs. West East vs. West is a common theme in The Great Gatsby and is related to social structure and classes. As previously discussed, East Egg represents the upper class old money group, and West Egg represents the upper class new money group.

East Egg looks down on West Egg for their lack of social grace, taste, and elegance. If you were not born into old money, you don't matter and will never compare to the East Eggers in their eyes.

The East Eggers also represent those who are careless and lack morals. They are seen as corrupt, selfish, snobby and materialistic.

However, most of those who live in West Egg have morals and ethics to live by, like Nick Carraway.

Fitzgerald shows us how the division of social classes are very different, and how depending on where you are raised, you are raised to act, be, and believe in certain things. Wealth and Power Wealth and power is a dominant theme in The Great Gatsby. It is also a theme which incorporates social classes.

Wealth is always an advantage, and generally those who are wealthy have a lot of power and are in the upper class. They have the ability to control other people and situations because people either fear them, admire them, or are paid.

Meyer Wolfsheim is a good example of a man who has wealth and power in The Great Gatsby. He has made a lot of money through illegal businesses, rigging the World Series, and has helped Jay Gatsby achieve a lot of his wealth.

This means that Meyer Wolfsheim has the power to help people, and most likely hurt people. He runs a risky business in which could get him into a lot of trouble. Meyer Wolfsheim is involved in bootlegging, which is illegal due to the fact that prohibition occurred during the 1920's.

Jay Gatsby is also a man of wealth and power. Jay Gatsby is of the upper class, and asks Nick Carraway, who is middle class, if he would like a side job to earn extra money in return for reuniting Daisy and himself. Nick knows that Jay Gatsby is involved in illegal businesses, and refused because since he is a West Egger, he is one of the West Eggers who does have morals and ethics. Since Nick is of the middle class and doesn't pursue the American Dream as much as those of the upper class, he does not crave the extra money to be happy. Society and Class Society and class itself is a theme in The Great Gatsby. Society and class goes and hand in hand with social classes and structure.

Society revolves around the different social classes and how they act and are, and classes are the different social classes.

Society as a whole is filled with different people, but they generally categorize into the social classes of upper, middle, or lower class. Then more in detail into old money, new money, and no money.

The Great Gatsby is all about social classes and how society acts and is manipulated and morally incorrect. People have begun to care more about wealth and their selves instead of the things that really matter in life like happiness, loyalty, honesty, and family to name a few. Symbols Cars Cars are seen as a status of wealth. If you have an expensive car, you are assumed to be of the upper class.

For instance, Jay Gatsby bought Rolls-Royce. “It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns. (Fitzgerald, 64)

He bought this car to impress Daisy and show off his wealth to her. Cars also however symbolize other things like the death of Myrtle Wilson, who thought Tom was driving the car, and the American Dream. The Valley of Ashes The Valley of Ashes is not only a location between West Egg and New York that consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It is also a symbol.

The Valley of Ashes symbolizes the moral and social decay of society. This decay is caused by the pursuit of wealth, and selfishness. The rich indulge for themselves to make themselves happy, forgetting about all others, specifically those who live in the Valley of Ashes and work hard for their small amount of money.

The Valley of Ashes also symbolizes the plight of the poor. People alike George Wilson, who live in the Valley of Ashes and lose their vitality as a result of this. The Valley of Ashes leads people to lose interest in a reason to live and become spiritless, and exhausted.

This symbol relates to social structure and classes because those of higher class have the capability to help the people of the Valley of Ashes, but as was stated earlier, they indulge for themselves to make themselves happy, forgetting about all others. Gatsby's Parties Jay Gatsby hosts a number of extravagant parties every Saturday night. These parties are a symbol of the different social class's ways and symbolize how wealthy a person is. He hosts these parties in the hopes that Daisy Buchanan will show up one day.

These parties are filled with delicious food, beautiful entertainment, and a huge number of people. The people who come to the parties are those who which to advance their social status and make it look as though they are of upper class and are wealthy.

These parties also symbolize the difference between old money and new money classes. When Tom Buchanan had a party, it was much simpler. This shows how the new money class has over-the-top parties to flaunt their money in unnecessary ways.

The old money class are already comfortable and graceful in their wealth, so they see no need to show it off and have large parties. They simply throw parties in order to cure their boredom. Overall, The Great Gatsby revolves around the different social classes and their structure. Fitzgerald bases the book around these social classes, and uses them as obstacles to portray the most important theme in the book; the death of the American Dream. The different social classes of Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson, and Nick Carraway prove to make the book more interesting and meaningful. These social classes truly portray the social structure of the 1920's and make for an interesting book. Daisy was modeled after Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda. John Stewart
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