Social Class in West and East Egg

8 August 2016

Throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald consistently presents us with themes and motifs that highlight and question Americas class and interactive social morals. Fitzgerald portrays America to us during one of it’s most influential and prominent decades. It is through this frame of America in the 1920s that we are brought to understand a new transition, and growing difference in the social structures in the 20s.

As individuals both live and strive for the ideal American dream, we become aware of a distinct function in human society that begins draw a widening bridge in the class system. This distinct difference is shown through, obviously the lower classes yearning attempts to reach the American dream, and prescribed wealth. But more prominently The Great Gatsby provides a scope through which we are able to view the growing differences within Americas wealthiest classes, specifically with regards towards, morality and social graces.

Social Class in West and East Egg Essay Example

These differences in wealth are portrayed as ‘New “ and ‘Old’ money, which throughout the book are categorized by ‘East’ and ‘West’ Egg, east representing old money, and the older aristocracy, and west representing the newly self made millionaires. It is through individuals who respectively belong to east and west eggs that Fitzgerald attempts to represent a changing social frame between old and new money, and the differing morals and ideals that result from the groups. Typically, throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses a character to embody or personify themes or motifs within in the book.

Among the many qualities that Gatsby himself represents, one of the most iconic, is Fitzgerald’s use of Gatsby to represent new money, and social graces, and morality that have grown through this class, assuming this, we may interpret Gatsby’s actions as reflections of new monely archetypical qualities. Gatsby is portrayed to us as an exuberant, slightly socially obnoxious man. Keeping in mind what he represents, we see him in pink suits, monstrous mansions, and his yellow Rolls-Royce.

We can draw a few interpretations from this representation of Gatsby, at first glance we notice all of these aspects of him seem to lack subtlety or discreetness. It is not necessarily classy, or, like his extravagant parties, which do not follow many distinct social, high class manners, or graces, does not attempt to present high taste. All of these qualities can be interpreted as, pretentious, or vulgar, in the display of wealth, or lacking common social graces. However this is not the only portrayal of Gatsby.

Gatsby is alos seen throughout the book to have a sense of conviction, we see him as determined and loyal, with a strong foundation, based in his love for Daisy. On page 145 we observe a dialogue between Gatsby and Nick that begins, “ He wont touch her,” I said. “he’s not thinking about her” I don’t trust him, old sport” “how long are you going to wait? ” “all Night if necessary. Anyhow, till they all go to bed”(145) Here we are witnessing the scene where Gatsby waits outside Daisy’s house after conflict with Tom, and Myrtles death.

This is a prime example of the determination, and loyalty that Gatsby represents. With regard to keeping in mind that Gatsby is a portrayal of ‘new’ money, we can assume these to be qualities, and morals Fitzgerald intended to reflect on the class of new money, through west egg. Similar to the use of Gatsby to personify the values and morals of the west egg, or new money. Fitzgerald uses characters to reflect qualities of east egg, or old money. Most prominently through the book, we are presented with the Buchanans’ embodying Fitzgerald’s intended reflection of the old aristocracy.

We begin to notice a difference in the way in the way new and old money are presented, simply by the description of the Buchanan’s home, “Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white…. jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning garden…The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy afternoon”(7) Fitzgerald paints an image of class, and elegance based simply on the Buchanan’s home, it shows us that their environment almost radiates a sense of status and grace.

This can be closely juxtaposed next to the description of Gatsby’s house “it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy…spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool.. and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. ”(5) Which confronts us with a more arrogant, or ostentatious, portrait of Gatsby, his mansion isn’t displayed to the reader with the same elegance, or grace as the Buchanan’s house, but rather statement of flashy wealth. Similar to the portrayal of Gatsby himself.

However it is underneath this facade of class and grace that the Buchanan’s reflect, that we may observe. Keeping in mind what both individuals represent, We see a clear difference In Gatsby and the Buchanans, through chapters 8-9, after myrtle’s death, we see both parties true colors. As Tom and Daisy flee, leaving the tragedy, not to deal with it. Gatsby’s good qualities such as love and loyalty lead to his death, where the Buchanan’s qualities of selfishness and arrogant inconsiderate disposition, allow them to withdraw themselves from the situation.

Looking directly at the characters, proves to reveal just as much as the description of their environment, and behaviors. Fitzgerald provides yet another scope into the classes that Gatsby and the Buchanans represent. We are provided with the description of Tom as, “Now he was…rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. ” (6)

?We see Tom portrayed as a man who feels a right to condescend, and behave rashly towards others, he seems to radiate a sense of entitled superiority. Through this we can see that Fitzgerald meant to have Tom represent old money as an entitled and aggressive entity After examining these qualities of individuals associated with west and east egg, thus representing old money. It can be easily stated that Fitzgerald intended to provide us with a sense of a growing divide within the social operations of the upper class.

We have come to identify East egg, or old money, as classy, maintaining social graces, and elegance. However they are equally inconsiderate, selfish and arrogant. West egg, or new money is shown as flashy, and slightly obnoxious, exuding class, but parading it around. However we see in Gatsby, a higher sense of moral, and loyalty. Perhaps even more of a humanity. It was through west and east egg, and their interactions, that Fitzgerald was able to present us with this dynamic interplay of society and class.

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