Money Equals Happiness (The Great Gatsby)
Money Equals Happiness (The Great Gatsby)
Throughout history many societies have had upper, middle, and lower classes. The classes formed separate communities of diverse living and never crossed social barriers. In the book, The Great Gatsby, instead of streets and communities separating each class there was a sound. On West Egg, the rich received their money not from inheritance but from what they accomplished by themselves. They worked hard for their money and received no financial support from their families. These people gained in one of two ways; either they worked for it or relied on illegal means for survival. On the other hand, or island, East Egg natives represent the class of society that receive money from their relatives. They were someone’s heir and rich from birth. It was also known that no one on East Egg would marry someone poor or with new money. Fitzgerald reveals that the life of the privileged class is filled with corruption, carelessness, and materialism through his use of characterization in the novel.
Daisy, the wife of Tom Buchanan, has no goals in life; no discipline, nor any morals. She can’t even think for herself because she has never had to before. She talks to Nick as if he is part of a group which is secluded from the lives of the East Eggers and in some aspect he is ” ‘All right,’ said Daisy. ‘What’ll we plan?’ She turned to me helplessly. ‘What do people plan?’,” (153). Daisy lacks competence. Daisy has nothing to do or care about each day. She has no idea of how to plan something because she hasn’t had to do anything that requires thinking since the day that she thought money would solve her problems. She can go through life without having to think about anything that would probably require an elementary education. In the scene where Daisy runs over Myrtle, she doesn’t care what has happened, she just cares about herself. “For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes,” (158). This quote shows that Daisy is living in a dream world where she doesn’t have to obey any laws. Her snobby personality gets her in trouble. Killing Myrtle has no affect on her. She just keeps living her boring carefree life with no regard for other people.
The corruption in this novel can be seen through Daisy and Tom’s way of life. They believe they can run away from the problems they start and not be held responsible for them. Their money corrupts them into thinking that they are untouchable.
‘Don’t tell me, old sport.’ He winced. ‘Anyhow-Daisy stepped on it. I tried to make her stop but she couldn’t so I pulled the emergency brake. Then she fell over into my lap and I drove on’ (151).
Both Daisy and Tom are incapable of guilt and believe if they have a lot of money then they can get away from any situation. Tom’s behavior clearly reveals his lack of guilt when he fails to react to the death of his mistress. He regarded her as an object which really meant nothing to him. He showed her off and used her just like everyone else in his life. Tom’s carelessness and money powered mind makes himthink he can cheat on Daisy because he does not believe he has to answer to anyone for his behavior. ” ‘That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s but he was a tough one. He ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never stopped his car,” (187). Tom had every intention in convincing everyone that Gatsby was the one who killed Mrytle with his car. He didn’t care what happened to Gatsby just as long as the blame wasn’t on Daisy. Then he makes up the idea of Gatsby telling lies to Nick and Daisy. Tom doesn’t care who he hurts as long as the outcome of it is beneficial for him. Tom and Daisy seek justification in only their values when it suits them. Tom and Daisy are products of the pervasive corruption of the 1920’s and demonstrate how the rich are corrupt and careless.
Also, Daisy and Tom are carelessly creating problems and leaving them to be resolved by someone else. They believe they can have a carefree life without anything ever happening to them. Daisy sits around all day doing nothing and believing that her material possessions make her happy and that is all she needs in the world. Her daughter was only something that she could show off to guests just like all of her other possessions that she had. She believes that what she owns is what makes her accepted. She shows off her daughter as if she was a possession that she bought.
‘I waited but she didn’t say any more, and after a moment I returned feebly to the subject of her [Daisy] daughter.’
‘I suppose she talks, and-eats, and everything.’
‘Oh, yes.’ She looked at me absently (21).
The only reason she even acknowledges that her daughter is there is when she feel she needs to show off her possessions, and her daughter is only a possession to her. If she tried to change and actually decided to be less materialistic then maybe she would change her whole outlook on life.
‘Her [Daisy] voice is full of money,’ he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . . . (127).
Gatsby knows what makes Daisy different from the common people. The way she uses her voice shows that she lives a luxurious lifestyle and by proving it to people around her she has made her voice more elegant and almost proper. It is her way of showing people that she is rich when she cannot show off her possessions. She needs to let people know that she’s rich because money is the only thing that she cares about, and the only happiness she gets out of life.
The novel The Great Gatsby shows many different aspects of the upper class. From corruption to being uncaring many characters never change personalities and don’t even try to change. Daisy stayed the same careless, materialistic woman throughout the book and Tom stayed hypocritical and angry. Eventually both run away never accepting responsibility for the damage that they caused. They thought that because they have money they would never have any problems and if they did money would get them out. Money was everything to them and Daisy loved money more than she loved her own daughter. Tom thought that because he had money he could cheat on his wife and that love meant buying his wife a necklace which to his wife was love because it cost a lot of money. Both characters never realized what money couldn’t buy them. Between Daisy and Tom money can buy love. To them money equals happiness.