The location of Gatsby’s house is chosen as an attempt to impress Daisy with his so-called wealth, a clear misuse of his ill gained money. Gatsby’s house is furnished to a very high standard, but these books and antiques are just Gatsby’s way of showing off his wealth to others. However Gatsby does not really care for materialism, we can tell this because his bedroom, the only room he really ever uses, is empty compared to the rest of the house. The whole illusion of his lifestyle, house and parties, hide his main goal in life, to win the love of Daisy.
The fact that Daisy is now a married woman does not signify with Gatsby, his lack of morals again exposed. During the novel, Fitzgerald clearly comments on American Society. We are shown how a society that once existed under clear concise morals have been corrupted by the new world. The people of this era had been shown new wealth and freedoms and would do anything in their attempts to gain them. Fitzgerald frowns on the East, and shows it in an ill light, while painting the West as wholesome and moral.
The West, where the narrator Nick comes from, still encompasses the morals that the first settlers took to it. If we consider Gatsby’s parties, we are shown a clear picture of the fast living American society of the time. Held every week in the summer they were a symbol of the extravagance of the time. Firstly we are told of the over the top arrangements for these parties, and the vast amounts of money that were lavished on them. Nick describes how a whole orchestra had been brought in to entertain the guests who had been ferried to the party from New York in Gatsby’s Rolls Royce.
This is a clear statement on how over the top the whole period was. Secondly, we are told about the crates of oranges and lemons delivered to Gatsby’s mansion on a Friday and collected as spent halves on a Monday, this can be viewed as a reference to the guests. Gatsby was using them to further himself socially, as much as they were using him. “In his blue garden people came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne. ” (Pg 45). The party was drawing the socially elite like drawing moths to a light, even thought the parties had no particular point.
We can clearly see how each of the characters in the book base their lives around materialistic values. There is a major conflict between those that are traditionally rich and newly rich, and a misconception that happiness can be re-captured if they can make enough money. Nick tells us how Tom Buchanan’s family were: “enormously wealthy – even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach”. (Pg 12) We are told how contemptuous the people are, towards both the lower classes and even themselves. He explains how Tom’s tone had: “a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked”.
(Pg 13) The Buchanan’s and Jordan Baker are discussing a racial book when Daisy says: “We’ve got to beat them down”. (Pg 19) Again, we are shown the complete and utter distain these people have for anyone they do not believe fit in to their level, a reflection of the rich society of the time. The comment that Fitzgerald was making about American society in the 1920’s is very clear in The Great Gatsby. He shows us that a society that once lived by strict moral and ethical codes and a belief in democracy and equality for all has been corrupted by the new world that grew up after World War 1.
In the 1920’s people had discovered new wealth and freedoms but then began living their lives extravagantly and excessively, disregarding everything and everyone that were not a part of their ‘social class’. This was the world of the East. The world of the West, where Nick arrived from, was quite different. Their world still reflected the morals and beliefs of the first settlers. It was a moral world where anything was possible, where dreams could come true. Gatsby was also from this world, but his dreams were destroyed in the East by its corruption and his own faulty visions.
The novel, although set in America in the 1920’s, could relate to any country and any period of time. Everyone who reads this novel can take something away from it, a lesson, a lesson that people and feelings mean more than money and materialistic trappings.
Biblography : Tanner, Tony. The American Mystery: American Literature from Emerson to DeLillo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2000. (Web 1) http://www. helm-information. co. uk/fsfitzgerald. htm – accessed 7th March 2003 Reference – Penguin Popular Classics – The Great Gatsby (1994) – York Notes on The Great Gatsby (1980).