Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby And Money Value

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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"Our great cities and our mighty buildings will avail us not if we lack
spiritual strength to subdue mere objects to the higher purposes of
humanity" (Harnsberger 14), is what Lyndon B. Johnson had to say about
materialism. He knew the value of money, and he realized the power and effect of
money. Money can have many effects, however money cannot buy happiness. Many
people disbelieve this fact, and many continue to try and actually buy articles
that make them happy. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Fizgerald
keenly shows us how Jay Gatsby is one of these people. Gatsby believes that if
he has money, he can do attain great goals. Gatsby is a sensible man, yet he has
many false conceptions. Jay Gatsby believes that money can recreate the past,
can buy him happiness, and can be helpful in achieving a level of prestige in
the prominent East Egg. Jay Gatsby believes he can buy happiness; and this is
exhibited through his house, his clothes, and through Daisy. He owns a large
portion of finances due to some mysterious source of wealth, and he uses this
mystery source to buy his house, his clothes, and Daisy. Gatsby’s house, as
Fitzgerald describes it, is "a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in
Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy,
and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden"
(Fitzgerald 9). This house, as Fitzgerald fabulously enlightens to, is an
immaculate symbol of Gatsby’s incalculable income. "The house he feels he
needs in order to win happiness" (Bewley 24), is an elegant mansion; that
of which an excellent symbol of carelessness is displayed and is part of
Gatsby’s own persona. Every Monday after a party, this house is kept by eight
servants. It has its own entrance gate, and is big enough to hold hundreds of
people at a time. His careless use for money to impress others is portrayed
through his clothes; a gold metallic hat, silver vests and gold jackets. The
shirts and clothes that are ordered every spring and fall show his simpleness in
expressing his wealth to his beloved Daisy. His "beautiful shirts . . . It
makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before"
(Fitzgerald 98). It seems silly to cry over simple shirts, but "It is not
the shirts themselves that overwhelm her but what they symbolize . . ." (Cowley
43). These shirts represent the simple awesome manner of Gatsby’s wealth and
his ability to try and purchase Daisy’s love, this time through the use of
extensive clothing. Fitzgerald wisely shows how Gatsby uses his riches to buy
Daisy. In the story, we know that "They were careless people, Tom and
Daisy--they smashed up things . . . and then returned back into their
money" (Fitzgerald). By this, we know that Daisy’s main (and maybe only)
concern is money. Gatsby realizes this, and is powered by this. He is driven to
extensive and sometimes illegal actions. He feels he must be rich and careless
for his five year love, and when expressing Gatsby’s readiness to spend any
amount of money for his hopeful wife, a poem must be stated. "Then wear the
gold hat, if that move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she
cry "Lover, gold hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!" ( ).
This poem is a perfect description of how Gatsby tries to buy Daisy, and her
love. All these enlighten us to Gatsby’s personality, therefore we know Gatsby
is willing to use an unlimited source of income to actually buy trifles to prove
his worth to Daisy. He will buy a house that takes, even him, three years to pay
for and purchases clothes every Spring and Fall. He does all he can in order to
buy, what he feels is his only happiness, the woman he has watched for five
years, the woman who’s only concern is money, the infamous, Daisy. Gatsby’s
obsession is with the buying power of money, however, this obsession does not
limit itself merely to possessions, but also to physical attributes. Jay Gatsby
attempts to recapture his past with money. He also implies he has a past at
Oxford, he entices Daisy with wealth, and sometimes spins absolute obvious lies.
In his past at Oxford, the author uses a prestigious, ivy league school that
Gatsby visited in order to imply that Gatsby did come from a high class
background. However, Fitzgerald candidly avoids saying for how long, for what
reasons, or why he has indeed attained entrance at Oxford. Being misplaced by
the Military at this local prestigious college unfortunately serves as a
hindrance. Gatsby shows Nick a picture "A souvenir of [his] Oxford days . .
. " (Fitzgerald), as if to imply that he was there. In all actuality,
Gatsby had only dreamed of attending a school such as Oxford, and even a small,
dishonest taste of this makes him dream of changing his past. This, as Malcom
Cowly states, "past holds something that Gatsby [longs] for, a simpler,
better, nobler time . . ." (Cowly 45). With a photograph, Gatsby
effectively, and almost unmistakably, recreates his past. Not only does Oxford
involve untruths, but most of this recreation involves numerous obscene and
unbelievable lies. Gatsby "live[s] like a young rajah in all the capitals
of Europe . . . " (Fitzgerald), as Nick, incredibly notes "With an
effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter" (Fitzgerald). With
documentation like this, Fitzgerald effectively proves Gatsby’s statements to
be lies. Even "When Nick asks him where in the Midwest [Gatsby] comes from,
Gatsby ignorantly, but elegantly, tells him San Francisco, geography losing to
the pretensions of the romantic imaginations" (Lehan 60). These and
numerous other lies prove how James Gatz tries to recapture the past through the
use of enamorous mendacity. There is one reason only why Gatsby tries so
desperately to alter his past, his pursuit of one money stained Daisy. Jay tries
to buy Daisy in various ways. Not only does he buy many material items to
impress her, but he continues to accumulate as much money as he can in order to
physically buy her. As Jordan states, "He wants her to see his house, and
you live right next door" (Fitzgerald). Perhaps the only reason he does is
to show how much money Gatsby possesses. When Daisy finally realizes this, a
problem occurs. "He innocently expects that he can buy anything--especially
Daisy. She is for sale, but he doesn’t have the right currency" (Bruccoli
vii). Clearly Gatsby has the money, unfortunately he does not have the right
type of money, he comes from the wrong class of society. Due to the dream of
attaining a higher social class and for Daisy, Gatsby tries to recapture his
past, even if he is being forced to tell emaculant outlandish lies. In order to
achieve a certain prestige, so that Daisy will love him (she may already love
him, but she won’t live with him), Gatsby uses his dirty money, his
association with well known people, and numerous gestures to obtain this level
of respect. Gatsby’s "mysterious source of wealth" (Fitzgerald), as
Fitzgerald describes is through an activity called bootlegging. This illegal
business is very risky, yet very prosperous. Gatsby uses it to "get rich
quick". As writer Henry Dan Piper says, "Bootlegging was after all a
more or less acceptable business enterprise . . . " (Piper 191). While this
may be, this enterprise does not raise Gatsby’s level of respect. The kind of
wealth he needs is "acquired" wealth. The kind of wealth he achieves
is earned. In the prominent East Egg, and with Daisy, this type of wealth is
unacceptable. Also, association is used in Gatsby’s struggle for prestige.
When taking Tom through his party, he stops at every famous person available.
"Gatsby identified him, adding that he was a small producer"
(Fitzgerald) is a sentence in which Gatsby directly tries to associate his name
with, and in turn earn a level of respect specifically from Tom. Gatsby includes
anyone famous, even those who are morally bad. "Meyer Wolfsheim, the man
who fixed the world series in 1919" (Mizner 23).
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