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How Money and Wealth Depicted in the Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby”


Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby documents a classical manifestation of the implications of social status and wealth. Fitzgerald uses numerous examples to illustrate material and wealth as though very influential and make people powerful; it cannot imply or buy happiness for an individual. In essence, wealth is portrayed as a valuable possession whose presence brings a lot of impact on a person’s life. The novel shows how wealth is a major element in the social order by showcasing, how money corrupts individual, classifies social groups and segregate others, has influence and power, yet cannot guarantee certain values in life.

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Fitzgerald’s two major characters; Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby help the reader to understand several features of wealth and differences between “old money” and “new money.” Gatsby is an important person when explaining the role of money in the novel’s society (Wang 235). Ideally to him, money is a means of achieving certain goals or dreams in one’s life. Therefore, he struggles to amass wealth motivated by the family of Buchanan. He also helps to illustrate the difference between the two types of money in this novel. On the one hand, within the novel, old money is considered as wealth inherited from a lineage, for instance, people who were born from wealthy backgrounds had this kind of money. On the other hand, new money describes fortune gained from hard work within the current lineage. First, Tom is an “old money” as he highlights the personality qualities of people from well-established backgrounds. He is an heir of rich generations with higher social ranks. Unlike Gatsby, who had an unsuccessful lineage, he is portrayed to have higher mortality and etiquette in his behavior. Therefore, although Gatsby may have amassed a substantial amount of money in his life, his residence and social ranks may not match Tom’s position. Therefore, he is portrayed as an old-school individual who is not exposed to formalities alongside other modern values, thus, flashy and inexperienced with money.

Likewise, throughout the novel, wealth seems to possess some unique privileges and influence. Tom’s family is rich and works as a certain class of people who categorize peers based on race and economic statuses. On the opposite side, Gatsby is struggling to become the same status as Tom and admires Tom’s lifestyle because he has a lot of wealth. This example used by Fitzgerald focuses on helping the reader understand that sometimes money can make someone love a person but will never change the social norms (Jiang). Gatsby’s wealth becomes influential when he uses his finances and belonging to attract Daisy, illustrating how privileged wealthy people are among community members. At the same, it also shows how money corrupts morals among people because Daisy ultimately changed her loyalty and could pay more attention to the highest bidder. Therefore, Fitzgerald seems to concentrate on how materialism overcomes affection with special interest alluded to the power of money; no genuine love seems to illuminate societies except where there is considerable income.

The rise and fall of Gatsby provide an example to us that all the wealth gained can be useless because people cannot buy happiness or life itself. From the beginning of the story, he stands as a rich and ambitious young man who is focused on amassing resources that he tentatively forgot his background. The new money he acquires fails to help him fulfill his ambitions and ends up back to the family lineage. Through this novel, it is important to note that money only helps Gatsby attain certain missions, including having a relationship with Daisy (Fitzgerald 5). On the contrary, Buchanan spends his wealth with no clear intention but seemingly to affirm the power and dominance of Gatsby’s people. There are instances where people in contemporary societies use their economic influence to assert either political interest or position to the common citizens because they can afford to pay daily expenses. Nonetheless, they all fail to attain maximum happiness and fulfillment in life because money can never be everything a person needs to survive. Seemingly, however rich or poor a person could be in a society, joyfulness is an individual choice. Richness comes with massively ending sacrifices that sometimes may cause mayhem in families.


To conclude, Fitzgerald’s novel gives examples that can exist in our societies through art that documents several aspects of a pragmatic society. He depicts wealth as one major driving force that may segregate or unite people depending on the user. Thus, wealth is not only cherishable but also vital in determining the influence of an individual in power and possession. Seemingly, can buy love and manipulate people into making decisions in a relationship, yet it cannot change the social history or standings of such individuals. Essentially, wealth makes people strive and move without attaining any sort of happiness. Therefore, Fitzgerald uses the setting to help the reader understand that all materialism and plastic money that individuals struggle for are all worthless and vanity. Nonetheless, life is priceless and no amount of wealth or money can buy happiness. Thus, people need to embrace true happiness and love to become successful in life.


Fitzgerald, Scott. F. The Great Gatsby. RIPOL Classic, 2017.

Jiang, Jinxuan. “The Analysis of the Tragic Reality of The Great Gatsby.” 2019 4th International Conference on Humanities Science and Society Development (ICHSSD 2019). Atlantis Press, 2019, pp. 471-475. Web.

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Wang, Chenye. “Similarities and Differences between Tom and Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.” 2017 4th International Conference on Literature, Linguistics and Arts (ICLLA 2017), Francis Academic Press, 2017, pp. 234-236. Web.

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