This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby Essay

1960 Words 8 Pages
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings largely focus on the American aristocracy during the 1920s. The ‘20s became alternatively known as “the Jazz Age,” a term coined by Fitzgerald with connotations encompassing the prosperity, frivolity, and decadence of the upper class. The atmosphere and mindset of lavish excess are preserved in the plots and characters of Fitzgerald’s writings. Although Fitzgerald’s protagonists are wealthy, there is a noticeable distinction between those who come from “old money” and those who are considered “new money”. Amory Blaine, of This Side of Paradise, and Jay Gatsby, of The Great Gatsby, exemplify this difference.

Fitzgerald’s novels explore the opulent lifestyle of the upper class, and the
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With striking similarity in both appearance and personality, it seems that Amory has “inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worthwhile” (3). Fitzgerald is pointing out the meaningless of the trappings of the upper class. Although Amory and Beatrice are rich and beautiful, these traits do not make them worthwhile. It is the characteristics that Amory develops on his own, without Beatrice’s influence, that redeem him.

Gatsby, on the other hand, develops into the person he is by recognizing the kind of person he does not want to be- a bourgeois, like his parents. He rejects them as “shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” (The Great Gatsby 104) and yearns to move up from the middle class he is born into. After seeing millionaire Dan Cody’s yacht, Gatsby strive to achieve “all the beauty and glamour in the world” (106) that the yacht represents to him. Gatsby’s desire to attain the wealth and glamour of the upper class leads him to create the personage Jay Gatsby, his Platonic conception of himself. He goes about transforming himself methodically, practicing things such as “elocution, poise, and how to attain it” (GG 181) and learning from Dan Cody until “the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of a man” (107). As an outsider, Gatsby’s perception of the upper class is romanticized and
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