Article Review: Possessions in the Great Gatsby

Pages: 2 (624 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Sociology  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Possessions in the Great Gatsby," the author discusses the "debilitating effects of money and social class on American society" (210). The characters of Jay Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson are used to demonstrate the impossibility of becoming a card-carrying member of high society without having both money and an esteemed social position. Through their deaths at the hands of Daisy and Tom Buchanan, they also demonstrate the physical dangers inherent in interacting with people who are fiscally above the law.

In 1920's America, there are striking differences between the 'old money' and 'new money' members of the upper class. Gatsby is new money. He has recreated himself from a member of the middle class, even changing his name from Gatz to Gatsby so that he will fit into the upper echelon of society. It becomes quickly evident, however, that Gatsby is lacking in social position. He has wealth but he does not have a pedigree to validate his entry into high society.

Gatsby's extravagance and ostentation demonstrate to everyone that he is an upstart rather than a true member of the leisure class. Donaldson claims, "The trouble is that these possessions, which Gatsby shows off like a peacock his plumage, proclaim him as an arriviste" (207). Gatsby has purchased a relatively new home, unlike the ancestral mansions lived in by the inherited rich. He has filled it with period pieces that were purchased more as an act of displaying his wealth than because of good taste or quality. When Tom Buchanan first meets Gatsby, he is able to discount him as serious competition for Daisy's interest on the basis of his suit and car, which are so flashy that they give away his middle-class status. Gatsby wants to be a member of society, but he does not have the breeding, the background, or the manners to be considered a member of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Possessions in the Great Gatsby.  (2010, March 23).  Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/possessions-great-gatsby-author/285869

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"Possessions in the Great Gatsby."  Essaytown.com.  March 23, 2010.  Accessed July 23, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/possessions-great-gatsby-author/285869.