Class Illusion In The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, tells a story defined by class. Nick, the narrator, gives us insight into three disparate groups of people: the East Egg crowd, represented by Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who were born into wealth; the West Egg crowd, represented by Jay Gatsby, who “pulled himself up by his bootstraps,” so to speak; and the people in the Valley of Ashes, represented by Myrtle Wilson, who have only an illusion of superiority. Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby pursue relationships with the Buchanans in order to feel as though they are of their class. Myrtle uses Tom to support her feelings of superiority, while Gatsby uses Daisy to forget what he has learned about wealth since they first met. Both want to the impossible: to have…show more content…
The naivete of their younger selves, coupled with the inevitable inaccuracies of his memory, creates in Gatsby’s mind a version of Daisy that her real self, having been married to Tom for five years, can never live up to. Almost immediately after they reconnect, the illusions of them Gatsby has constructed begin to break down. When Gatsby tells Daisy about watching the green light on her dock, Nick observes “Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now...his count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” (93) The loss of what his had imagined being magically close to Daisy distracts Gatsby from the physical reality of Daisy standing next to him. He maintains his imagined version of Daisy and of what their relationship can be, much as he maintains an illusion of effortless wealth despite its contradicting with his actual, earned fortune. In his mind, Daisy is intrinsically connected to the idea of wealth he had as a young man. When they first meet, five years before the events of the book take place, Gatsby has yet to inherit a portion of Dan Cody’s fortune. He is a working-class soldier, and Daisy’s lifestyle is not one he has previously experienced. She assumes him to be from a similar background and he does…show more content…
Tom uses Myrtle much the same way she uses him. He has power over her and her friends that he does not have over Daisy. Myrtle is a game he is playing. Daisy, while not as deliberate in her manipulation, has no plans to leave Tom for Gatsby. He is not a secure choice, and if he was he would not need her. The socioeconomic yearning that leads Myrtle and Gatsby to Tom and Daisy is also what dooms their relationships from the beginning. Neither Myrtle nor Gatsby could ever have successfully reached the level of the Buchanans, and their efforts get them both

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