The Great Gatsby

Ordinary people whose lives and deaths are enmeshed with and determined by broader political, social, and economic issues; What are those issues at work in The Great Gatsby?


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This would be covered under the theme of class.


Class is an unusual theme for an American novel. It is more common to find references to it in European, especially British novels. However, the societies of East and West Egg are deeply divided by the difference between the noveau riche and the older moneyed families. Gatsby is aware of the existence of a class structure in America, because a true meritocracy would put him in touch with some of the finest people, but, as things stand, he is held at arm's length. Gatsby tries desperately to fake status, even buying British shirts and claiming to have attended Oxford in an attempt to justify his position in society. Ultimately, however, it is a class gulf that seperates Gatsby and Daisy, and cements the latter in her relationship to her husband, who is from the same class as she is.

This same theme also applies to Myrtle Wilson. In her position, she feels lucky to be having an affair with a man who is quite frankly expected to have affairs. Tom has no consideration for the woman, and no regret for the trauma he causes her husband. She's easy prey, and Geirge doesn't matter. Tom can do whatever he wants..... and he feels entitled to do so. His position makes him pretty much untouchable.