Money, Power and People in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald



Carl Sandbeurg, the Swedish-American poet famously said “money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings”. Money has the power to aid the people that have it. In The Great Gatsby the author, F.Scott Fitzgerald uses materialistic items to create power. The extravagant setting is used to showcase the character's power. The author uses multiple materialistic items as  symbols to illustrate power throughout the novel. Materialistic items are utilized to mold powerful characters. After examining the elements in F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, it is evident that money and materialistic items are important because it aids individuals to gain power through their wealth and abundance. 

To begin, it is apparent that the grand setting The Great Gatsby makes the character feel powerful. Similarly, having the largest mansion makes Gatsby feel as though he is superior to the others around him. As the narrator Nick describes his home in West Egg he recounts Gatsby's home as a "colossal affair by any standard"(Fitzgerald) (middle). Nick's thoughts about Gatsby’s mansion is similar to society's outlook upon Gatsby's home also. The townspeople find his home enormous and overwhelming, in return, Gatsby feels powerful and proud as his home is the biggest that anyone has ever seen. (compound). As a result of his luxuriant home, Gatsby is always the centre of attention within the people, this lends Gatsby an automatic power and authority over the people. (compound complex). Everyone hopes for all the luxury that Gatsby has and gives him an added respect as the aspire to be like him. His home lends him a raised reputation lending him a powerful role within the society. Furthermore, Tom's residence in the East egg portrays his power through wealth. While Nick travels to the Buchanan’s home he says that “East egg [ Glitters] along the water " as he "[drives] over there to have dinner with  the Tom Buchanan's ... "[Tom's] family [is] enormously wealthy "(Fitzgerald) (snippet). people refer to the occupants of East egg as "old money”. Old money describes  Tom's generational wealth. People from East egg are known to be very rich and make money through proper means in contrast to West Eggers who create money through illegal means. West Eggers aspire to be East Eggers indubitably, lending all East Eggers a sense of superiority. Tom has a power that the West Eggers do not because within their society the East Eggers are considered more desirable and looked up to. Due to Tom living on East Egg, people realize his generational wealth and lend him a certain respect and power which he uses to uphold his reputation. Since people already realize Tom's riches and recognize that he lives on East Egg, it forces Tom to have a higher satus within society gaining him more power within the people. Therefore, both the mansion and East Egg are settings which are used to showcase the gain of power through wealth. 

Secondly, it is clear that the author uses materialistic items as symbols to represent power. The luxurious shirts serve as a symbol to Gatsby’s power. As Gatsby shows Daisy all his prized possessions, she starts to sob when she sees his extravagant shirts and says “it makes [her sad] because [she has] never seen such-such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald) (end). These shirts make Daisy realize all the Gatsby had gained since she last saw him. The shirts depict Gatsby’s growth from rich to poor and powerful as he is now capable of owning such extravagant outfits. The shirts illustrate Gatsby’s power as they are nothing like Daisy has ever seen before. The shirts are a representation of certain ideals between Gatsby, Daisy and the society around them. It represents societal standards of how certain classes should present themselves to fit it. Due to the reason that Gastby owns these extremely expensive shirts, it ensures that he fits the societal norm of what the rich people would wear. The shirts showcase his wealth, thus people recognizing and respecting him and the power he had gained. To continue, the bright yellow car is a symbol of power through materialistic items. After the accident the police ask if anyone saw anything, a bystander then says that “it [is] a yellow car…”big yellow car” (Fitzgerald) (end). The author uses the colour yellow as it represents gold. It is a very valuable metal. (simple) This is important as it is only the rich, like royalty that possesses gold. In addition, cars itself are very sparsely used and that also only by the rich. The large yellow car gives power to all the rich who own it just by its abnormal colour. The yellow colour hints to how expensive the car could be and sends an automatic sense of power. The yellow car thereupon showcases a perception of wealth just through the colour , lending power to the people that drive the car. 

Finally, it is evident that materialistic items shape many characters to make them feel powerful. Gatby’s large impersonal parties are used to create power within his character. Nick explains about the parties where “on the week-ends [Gatsby’s] Rolce-Royce turns into an omnibus bearing parties to and from the city, between nine in the morning and long past midnight” (Fitgerald) (end). These parties showcased Gastby’s wealth as they are one of the most lavish parties anyone has seen. Gatsby spent countless amounts of money for the parties, yet they were so impersonal that he never made any valuable relationships. (complex) For this reason, the parties became a motive for him to gain power and flaunt his newly established richness to the world. He realized the people valued the gathering of the free food and drinks, so he altered his personality to host all these parties and eventually the people of the town are all under him waiting to hear when the next one will be. Moving on, Myrtle also uses materialistic items to help mold a powerful character. During a party Myrtle changes her outfit into a fancy “cream coloured chiffon” dress, where Nick states that “with the influence of the dress her personality [is] also [undergoing] change” (Fitzgerald) (end). Myrtle uses her chiffon dress to mask her middle-class status and exude a rich, personable character. In addition to this, Tom purchases many of the items for Myrle as she desperately tries to keep up with his lifestyle. Having the ability to utilize these items gives Myrtle the feeling of power as she is able to control how others view her. When using these items, she naturally alters her personality to conform and it lends her a sense of power doing so. On the whole, certain materialistic items are used in the novel to help sculpt the characters into powerful people. 

In the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald money and materialistic items are substantial as it assists to gain people power through their affluence. The setting of Gatsby’s large mansion and Tom’s home on East Egg are used to display their power. Materialistic items, such as extravagant shirts and bright yellow cars are used to illustrate power through wealth. Certain materialistic items, such as lavish parties and elaborate outfits are utilized to shape powerful characters. Can money really give a person everything they need?