Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”, all the characters – with
one exception – are corrupted by the power of money, shaping their lives,
motives, emotions, relationships and actions.
the main character, Gatsby, turns out to be someone in whom the most exalted
feelings – love and dream of human potentialities – are infiltrated, and
intimately corrupted by the obsession with money. Gatsby’s love for Daisy is inseparable from the love he
has for money and Daisy is barely distinguishable from the richness in Gatsby’s
mind. When Gatsby tells Nick of his first meeting with her, we see that it is
the sumptuousness of her house that impresses Gatsby above all else; Daisy’s
power of seduction is inseparable from that of the house over him (p.141).
Moreover, Gatsby surprises Nick by defining the essence
of Daisy’s charm over him: in Gatsby’s ears, Daisy’s voice “is full of money” (p. 115). It
seems clear that Gatsby’s attraction to Daisy comes along with his dream of
success and fortune. His relationship to others is systematically mediated by the value of
exchange, because he always tries to “buy” the acceptance or
affection of others. The day of his reunion with Daisy, Gatsby, dressed
in gold and silver clothing, hastens to show her his mansion and all it
contains, room by room. At the end of this visit, he displays before Daisy’s
eyes his entire collection of shirts. Gatsby does not have this attitude
only with Daisy but also with Nick. When the latter accepts to arrange a
reunion between Gatsby and Daisy at his place, Gatsby immediately offer him a
job for the service rendered; but Nick refuses for the very same reason.
However, Gatsby is not the only character
driven by his obsession with money. Daisy is unable to live her love for Gatsby by her
attachment to the material luxury life of which her childhood was surrounded.
She marries Tom after the war, for this reason, instead of waiting for the
return of a Gatsby who has not yet made a fortune. When Gatsby is threatened by
public rumor, she decides to stay with her husband to keep her financial
security. She will not even send a message at Gatsby’s funeral.
addition, Tom uses his wealth to control and dominate others, and his identity
is defined by the things he owns, things he does not necessarily enjoy but that
function as signs of his power. As for Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, she is
also decisively motivated by money and merchandise. What attracted her to Tom
during their first meeting was his costume and his luxurious shoes and while
they are together, Tom is constantly buying the things she demands. Having
married a poor man, she is frustrated by her lack of money in a society where status
is determined by wealth.
the power of money is predominant in the novel, and its hold extends to all the
characters – with one exception, however: Myrtle’s husband. George Wilson turns
out to be the only true lover of the novel. Silently worshiping his wife, he is
devastated by her death, and his murder of Gatsby is the only act of the novel
that is not tainted with pecuniary motivation.
In conclusion, money reigns over
relationships in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. All characters, with the exception
of Wilson, are motivated by wealth and use it as an instrument of power.