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Woes of the Rich and the Poor in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

Updated on September 17, 2019
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The woes of the Rich and the Poor in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

In today’s world one percent of the richest people, adults with more than one million dollars, own forty five percent of the total global wealth (Anna-Maria 78).These moguls make up the crème de la crème in the socioeconomic chain who have made their fortunes from the sweaty backs of the poor working class .In Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby the contrast between the different socioeconomic classes is brought to light using various characters. Although the poor class does not realize, the rich have their problems too.

The Buchanans have their marital problems. Tom comes from a wealthy background and Fitzgerald, notes that “his freedom with money was a matter of reproach.”(8).Having known no struggle all his life, Tom is amused to hear that Nick works as a bond man. To add insult to injury he exclaims that he hasn`t heard of the company he works for, a statement which annoys Nick(Fitzgerald 13).Tom also has a condescending attitude towards Wilson, the mechanic, and husband to Daisy with whom he is having an affair with. He narrates of how Wilson thinks that his wife has gone to see her sister and of how dumb he is (Fitzgerald 26).Tom does not realize that his both, his mistress and wife, are drawn to him only because he is rich.

Daisy is a materialistic woman and only married Tom for his money and to raise her social class. After Gatsby left Daisy to join the WWI, Tom courts Daisy by pampering her with expensive gifts. Tom buys daisy a pearl necklace worth three hundred and fifty thousand dollars (Fitzgerald 82).The Buchanans live a lavish life with no worries of a mundane job. With so much time at their disposal they live recklessly and unanswerable to no one but themselves. This recklessness brings out Tom`s promiscuity who has an affair with Myrtle, Wilsons wife. Although Daisy learns of the affair, she does not divorce Tom because she does not want to depart from this affluent lifestyle.

The poor want to get rich so badly that they go out of their way to get to that level. Myrtle for instance confesses of how Tom’s affluence attracted her and led to the affair while they are at the McKee’s house. According to Fitzgerald myrtle could not keep her eyes off Tom`s patented leather shoes while at the train (40). Myrtle has to endure suffering for her covetous nature because despite her nose being broken by Tom while at the McKee’s she still sees him. One would expect that after such an incident she would have ended the affair. The poor resolve to use insidious means to become rich.

Gatsby used illegal means to become rich. Gatsby does not inherit family wealth unlike the Buchanans. It is purported that Gatsby becomes wealthy through bootlegging. This earns him quite a fortune with time and he buys a huge mansion on the west egg near Nick`s humble house. Gatsby is not shy of fronting his wealth to anyone who cares to watch from importing sleek suits and shirts from England to hiring a full orchestra for a party at his house (Fitzgerald 44). There is no clear evidence to show where he acquired his wealth.

The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece that shows the real lives of people from different socioeconomic classes. Even though the poor want to get rich so badly they do not realize that the rich have their own lifestyle problems too. It is a great reflection of society today and another reminder of the undying question, “what should be done to bridge the ever growing gap between the rich and the poor?”


Works Cited

Lusardi, Annamaria, et al. “Optimal Financial Knowledge and Wealth Inequality.” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 125, no. 2, Mar. 2017, pp. 431–77, doi:10.1086/690950.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald. , 1925. Internet resource.

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