Society and Class in The Great Gatsby

Decent Essays
Society and Class in The Great Gatsby The Roaring Twenties, or the Jazz Age, was a period characterized by post-war euphoria, prosperity, profligacy, and cultural dynamism. There were significant changes in lifestyle and culture in the 1920s; many found opportunities to rise to affluence, which resulted in groups of newly rich people, such as the hero of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby. Set in this booming era, the novel portrays the lavish and reckless lifestyle of the wealthy and elite. With the aristocratic upper class in the East Egg and the nouveau riche in the West Egg, people are divided into distinct social classes. Contrasting the two groups’ conflicting values, Fitzgerald reveals the ugliness and moral decay beneath…show more content…
As Nick says, “Gatsby turned out alright at the end”(2), despite all the scornful things Gatsby has represented. Despite the general characterization of the upper class as gentle, well-mannered people, the kind, well-bred characters are more of the West Eggers than the upper class East Eggers. In fact, the upper class displays the worst behaviors. Tom, for example, is arrogant, selfish, hypocritical, and constantly rude to Gatsby. He proudly speaks out racist and sexist views, and shows violence such as when he breaks Myrtle’s nose for merely annoying him. When the Buchanans at the end, simply move away than attend Gatsby’s funeral, they prove to be inconsiderate, careless people who “let other people clean up the mess they had made.”(179) Jordan, who is dishonest and a cheater, is not such a refined character either. Gatsby, on the other hand, is a “perfect gentleman”, what Wolfsheim regards as “a man of fine breeding”(71) He always maintains a polite and kind attitude, even when he’s with Tom and his condescending friends. He is continuously considerate and loyal, and although his manners come off as affectations, Nick nonetheless finds “something gorgeous about him”. When it comes down to personal charm and character, wealth and class mean nothing. Another contrasting value between the East Egg upper class and the West Egg new rich is
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