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What are the themes of The Great Gatsby? Show more Show less

F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved novel The Great Gatsby is required reading for most high schools. It shows New York City during the 1920s: a time of youth, wealth, and prohibition. What exactly are the themes of the novel, and how are the characters influenced by the values of the era?

The Great Gatsby is about wealth Show more Show less

The characters are only focused on being rich.
(1 of 5 Positions) Next >

Old money vs. new money

Characters are defined by having old money or new money, even dividing what neighborhood they live in: East Egg or West Egg.
(1 of 1 Argument) Next >
The Great Gatsby book education literature reading

Context

The Argument

West Egg, where Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway live, is for people with new money. They are looked down upon because they only came into wealth recently. People with old money, like Daisy and Tom Buchanan, live in East Egg. They are viewed as the upper class since their wealth has survived through generations. Daisy chose Tom Buchanan over Gatsby because of his wealth. Tom didn't work for his money like Gatsby did, which places him in the upper-class. The characters are only motivated to stay wealthy and keep their lavish lifestyle.[1] In The Great Gatsby, wealth defines social class. This is proven by Tom Buchanan's established connections through old money. He is vain and constantly attempts to flaunt his fortune. Despite his extravagant parties, Gatsby will never achieve the status that Tom has because he has new wealth.

Counter arguments

Jay Gatsby is not motivated by money. He uses wealth as a tool to impress Daisy in hopes that she would want to be in a relationship with him again. He spends his time and money throwing large, grandiose parties hoping it will catch her attention. Nick Carraway is also unconcerned about his wealth. He has enough money to live comfortably while enjoying the perks of having connections in the upper-class. Even though he has to work, his job in the bond business earns him high status.

Framing

Premises

[P1] People with old money live in East Egg. [P2] People with new money live in West Egg. [P3] People with old money have a higher social status. [P4] Social status is defined by wealth. [P5] Therefore, the theme of The Great Gatsby is wealth.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.webofproceedings.org/proceedings_series/ESSP/ICLLA%202017/ICLLA_082554.pdf
This page was last edited on Thursday, 26 Mar 2020 at 11:35 UTC