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Copy of Marxist Reading of the Great Gatsby

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Carlos Reyes

on 14 May 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Marxist Reading of the Great Gatsby

The novel is flawed from a Marxist perspective because of Nick's romanticism of Gatsby
Nick knows that he should disapprove of Gatsby, but he is too charmed by him
He acknowledges Gatsby's criminal activity but responds to it in a way that does not influence his or the reader's opinion of Gatsby
Why does Nick believe in Gatsby?
He wants to believe that Gatsby's dream can come true for himself. He wants to believe that a young man can gain financial success, find the woman of his dreams, and have hope for his future Jay Gatsby The Marxist Reading
of the
Great Gatsby Based on the theories of Karl Marx and influenced by philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Concerns itself with class differences, economic implications, and complications of the capitalist system
Attempts to reveal the socioeconomic system as our source of experience
Interested in the lower class being oppressed
Follows a process of thinking called material dialectic
Material dialectic says that what drives historical change are the material realities of the economy
Conflict leads to revolution (lead by lower class) and then intellectuals will compose an equal society where everyone owns everything Commodification treatment of objects and people as commodities, things whose only importance lies in the benefit to oneself GET RICH QUICK! Daisy Buchanan Flaws In The Great Gatsby From A Marxist Perspective Tom Buchanan Money is Everything Using His Wealth on Women Operating against the novel's critique of capitalism is a subtle reinforcement of capitalism's repressive ideology His marriage with Daisy was an exchange of her beauty, youth, and social standing for his money and power
Symbol of their marriage: the $350,000 pearl necklace
Uses his money and social rank to "purchase" Myrtle and the other women he had affairs with
For all of his affairs, he consistently chooses lower-class women
He goes for women who are the most desperate for and most easily awed by what he has to sell Gatsby & The American Dream George Wilson Jay Gatsby represents the infinite possibility offered by the American Dream.
He goes from extreme poverty to extreme riches
As a boy he divided his time very similar to Benjamin Franklins self-improvement tradition with the practice of "elocution" and the study of "needed inventions;"to create America's idea of the self-made man.
He also worked hard to get his money for the woman he loves (Daisy)
But the American dream was achieved in a corrupt way considering the fact that he achieved his wealth through criminal activity....
His characterization also suggest that the American Dream does not offer a moral alternative, to the commodified world of the wealthy, but reveals the debilitating effects of capitalism on socioeconomic "winners" (wealthy people) like Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby and also on the "losers" George and Myrtle (lower class). The novel gives an unsympathetic view of George and his wife Mrytle, who represent the lower class
George clings to his business to survive but cannot succeed in the market, so he is condemned to the valley of ashes
He is not very bright, which portrays him as a negative stereotype of the lower class
The reader may feel sorry for George, but this is overshadowed by the emphasis on his personal failings
The American dream tells us he just doesn't have what it takes to pick himself up off the ground
It tells us to blame the victim insead of blaming the system Material Wealth is Important Ex: he toys with George Wilson about him wanting to buy Tom's car in order to sell it at a profit
Ex: for his house, he tells Nick, "It belonged to Demaine, the oil man"
He pays much attention to his possessions, just so that he can flaunt them What is Marxism Critical Theory? Setting the scene of The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby was set during the Post-World-War-I economic boom of the 1920's (the Jazz Age)
Capitalism's promise of economic opportunity was at its highest
"Get rich quick" strategy was easily obtainable because stocks were able to be bought on a ten percent margin
Even some poor people during this time could soon become millionaires ("The New Rich")
The social classes included: New Rich, Old Rich, and the Poor Mrytle Wilson Myrtle tries to get ahead in life by "renting" her body to Tom, hoping that one day he will "purchase" it by marrying her
Myrtle is a negative stereotype because she is "loud, obnoxious, and overtly sexual"
She is an easy target for disapproval because of her rejection of George and her pursuit of Tom
The reader's awareness of Myrtle's very limited options is overshadowed by the fact that she does her best to use them Tom wants to be "old" money Nick's Influence Gatsby's Wealth He can never be "old" money
-"old" money requirement: money had to be earned in the past and in the east
-Because he carries this social inferiority, he looks to be part of some other status
-Ex: "The Rise of the Colored Empires"-he can't be part of "old" money because he is already part of the Aryan race
-He feels that his money and power exclude him from social confinements
-Ex: his vulgarity, especially with other women
-Because of his money, he can do whatever he wants Views people as Commodities He is very selfish in this way
-Ex: to get sex from Myrtle Wilson, he allows her to think that there is a chance they will get married one day
-Ex: in order to eliminate his competition for Daisy, he allows George to murder Gatsby, even helping him a bit Gatsby uses his wealth for others as well as himself
His generosity and hospitality are always present
Ex. Gatsby buys a new dress for a woman who ripped hers at one of his parties. "When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked me my name and address - inside of a week I got a package...with a new evening gown in it." (pg. 43)
Despite the fact that his money was earned from criminal activity, Gatsby's good nature goes against the Marxist negative stereotype of the wealthy
The lush language used to describe the luxuries of the rich in the novel also goes against the Marxist negative view of wealth
Ex. Everything at Gatsby's parties seems enchanted: a "tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight" (pg. 47) Daisy was not a victim of Tom's commodification
She uses Tom for his money and power as much as Tom uses Daisy for her beauty and social stability
Believes an idea in order to benefit her status of the "Old Rich"
Ex. Daisy commodifies disaffection just to impress Nick
Her view of life is a commodity in her relationship with Gatsby
Both times Daisy has a relationship with Jay Gastby she becomes uninterested once she realizes he cannot give her the value she wants from their relationship
Ex. During the confrontation scene Daisy see Gatsby is not "much the same strata as herself...fully able to take care of her" (156)
Daisy's commodification of people promotes convenience and facilitates the cold-blooded sacrifice others make for her
Ex. The death of Myrtle is blamed on Gatsby, while Daisy escapes to Chicago with Tom Tyson says that, He [Gatsby] commodifies his world more than Tom and Daisy.
The only room Gatsby uses in his beautiful mansion, is his simple bedroom, and the only time we see him there, is when he's showing it to Daisy.
The main purpose of his material possessions is create an image their ownership portrays and nothing more.
Basically he only owns all of these things to create a "Rich Boy" image, in order to get Daisy back.
Possession of Daisy is the ultimate commodity sign, and in acquiring many material goods he essentially captured one commodity sign in order to get another. Gatsby's Commodification can also be linked to his cold-blooded aggression with which he pursues what he wants. That is supported by the very dark and sinister world of corruption, crime, and death.
Some of these activities include bootlegging and the selling of fraudulent bonds. This is the same underworld of Meyer Wolfshiem, who was known for "fixing" the world series in 1919. Wolfshiem takes the credit for giving Gatsby his start, in his world of corruption. ` The negative view of George and Myrtle Wilson who represent the lower class
Nick's romanticism of Gatsby influences his and the reader's opinion of him
Gatsby is not selfish with his wealth and cares about more than just money
The language used to describe the luxuries of the wealthy paints wealth in a romantic light How does Gatsby Commodify Material things? Gatsby's Corruption "Get Rich Quick" Because the novel was published at a time when capitalism promised of economic opportunity for all ans when stocks could be purchased on credit. Even the "little man" as Tyson puts it could participate in the stock market hoping to make a fortune.
This idea id similar to Gatsby guest, who believed Gatsby's food and drinks to be unlimited so everyone came to take advantage of that, just like during this time period everyone believed the nations resources could never be depleted.
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