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Wealth Theme in The Great Gatsby

Wealth in The Great Gatsby is a theme at the heart of many others. Those who come from or live in East Egg are the old wealthy, and come from ancient wealthy families. These include the narrator Nick, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, and Jordan. Gatsby however, is the new wealthy representing West Egg, and because of it the old aristocrats look down on him.

The dog color that Tom buys for Myrtle is symbolic of his power over her. He is her master, and she is his. Color is important in The Great Gatsby. The gold car that Daisy drives symbolizes wealth. She hits Myrtle, who was only with Tom because of his money, with the golden car. Myrtle thus dies By trying to achieve “success”.

Great Gatsby Quotes about Wealth

Nick’s family represented the old wealth. “My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations” (page 7)

Nick’s father tells him “’Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’” (page 5).

Nick lives in West Egg, “the less fashionable of the two” (page 9). Gatsby also lives in West Egg. Tom and Daisy live in Easy egg.

Miss Baker says “’You live in West Egg’, she remarked contemptuously” (page 15).

The old money looks down upon  the new money.

“East Egg condescending to West Egg” (page 49).

Wolfshiem says “There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister” (page 77) about Gatsby. He also refers to Gatsby as a “man of fine breeding” (page 76).

“I remember the portrait of him up in Gatsby’s bedroom, a grey, florid man with a hard empty face – the pioneer debauchee who during one phase of American life brought back the eastern seaboard the savage violence of the frontier brother and saloon” (page 106).

“She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented ‘place’ that Broadway had begotten upon a Long island fishing village – appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing. She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand” (page 114).

 

Gatsby says that Daisy’s charm from her voice is because of her wealth: “Her voice is full of money” (page 127).

Nick tells Gatsby that “They’re a rotten crowd… You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together” (page 162).

But then Nick privately thinks “It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end” (page 162). In this light, Nick is a hypocrite because while he tells Gatsby that he approves of him, Nick privately dislikes Gatsby.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (page 188).