Great Gatsby – Social Class

8 August 2016

In the Great Gatsby, social class plays an important role in determining the course of events. Geographical factors and occupation primarily decide the divisions in the community and the social class of the characters can bring people together, but also tear them apart. The social classes in the novel appear evident to readers, as they are commonly decided by their occupation and home region. They are divided into new rich, old rich, middle class and poor. But social class is more than just having money, it is determined by culture, education and even conforming to society.

The geographical differences of each location in the novel contributed to the social class of the characters. All of the regions in the Great Gatsby had their own unique components which divided them in a social perspective. West Egg is the home of the new money, people who have recently made their money through business. These people usually import assets to create a luxurious and imposing atmosphere. The residents of East Egg come from traditional and wealthy families and have often inherited their millions.

Great Gatsby – Social Class Essay Example

They appear to readers as well-mannered and elegant people, but they look down in a condescending way on the people of West Egg. They believe that their family backgrounds are ‘inferior’ and that they spend their money in distasteful ways. The Valley of Ashes is an ugly wasteland, home to the poorer citizens of the area. It provides a contrast to the rich and dense exteriors of the two Eggs and the brightness and noisiness of New York. Nick determines that the region is “unprosperous and bare”, and attempts to ignore the harsh reality of the wasteland, just like the other Egg residents.

Therefore, the regions inhabited by the characters in the novel predominantly conclude their social class. Having wealth and expensive assets wasn’t enough for Gatsby to cross the social divide between him and Daisy. Jay Gatsby’s social class at the beginning of the novel was unlike Daisy’s as he thought that his financial worth would be enough to lure her. He believed that he needed to match her class to try and impress her, like with his collection of imported shirts and his affected accent. Gatsby attempts to imitate the upper class to try and bring closer his relationship with Daisy.

It became evident to readers that Gatsby had missed the point and had confused wealth and love. He states that Daisy’s voice is “full of money”, which links his desire for her and his longing for wealth and status that she represents. Furthermore, the main reason why Gatsby holds extravagant parties is because he wishes Daisy will attend and become amazed and flattered by his wealth and popularity. In truth, Daisy dislikes the party she attends and displays that she is unable to live up to Gatsby’s dream.

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