By: Leah Kim
Back in 1920’s, many people’s lives revolved around money and status. Despite the glory of achieving goals, a lot is also lost in response to the blindness while pursuing them. In The Great Gatsby by F. Fitzgerald, different classes are portrayed and how the upper class devoids morality. The protagonists making wrong choices divulge how wrong purpose in life, money and status in this novel, leads to immorality. Involvement in affairs, dishonesty, and carelessness all contribute to the overarching theme of lack of virtuousness in The Great Gatsby.
The methods that the characters used in this novel to gain wealth and fame project the duplicity and corruptness of them. Gatsby gained the riches through illegal business with Mr. Wolfshiem (Fitzgerald 103). Like Gatsby, numerous other people in the upper class “succeeded” and got to where they are through unlawful ways. It is even evident from the first encounter of Jordan and the narrator Nick Caraway that she is not a trust-worthy person. Nick states how he realized “she was incurably dishonest” (Fitzgerald 46) in addition to her superiority complex. She also cheats in a major golf tournament, which was done merely for fame; she goes against ethics for her selfish desires and goals. Corruption and materialism takes over the honest hard work that one must put in to achieve a successful future and goals.
Myrtle and Daisy display their absence of respect and loyalty by getting in affairs with Tom and Gatsby, accordingly as well in this novel. They both escape their marriage for wealth. Having been unhappy in a marriage with Tom as an excuse, Myrtle betrays her husband George. She regretfully talks about George saying she thought he was a gentleman: almost like it’s a regretful misunderstanding (Fitzgerald 29). Lastly, Daisy falls in love with Gatsby and his lavish lifestyle as well. Wrong priorities blinded by materialism and immortal goals prevent all of these characters from being rightful in their actions. Countless scandalous affairs in the novel reveal how misleading goals regarding status and money consequently corrupt their values.
What’s more, the unjust nature of the upper class is even associated with deaths of innocent lives. Rather than taking accountability for the tragic outcome of Myrtle’s death, Gatsby spoke as if Daisy’s reaction was the only thing that mattered regarding the car accident (Fitzgerald 110). However, her real reaction about the devastating news of death was heartless and she was only trying to avoid the consequences by covering it up. This makes Nick’s interpretation of Gatsby and Daisy “careless people” accurate. They are who “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…” (Fitzgerald 137). To these selfish, heartless people, death is not serious or impactful enough for them to awaken from an idealistic fantasy that money will solve anything. Such fallacies behind their immoral actions represent the lack of morality in people in this rank.
Although living an ideal lifestyle of wealth is what most people want, it is crucial to remember what’s more important: honesty. Fitzgerald explicitly illustrates the negative outcomes of neglecting moral ethics. The wrong outlook of success and identity discards will lead to an ultimate downfall as one of the greatest tragedies of the novel, Gatsby’s death, proves it. Cheating to climb up the social ladder, getting in affairs, and not taking the repercussions of actions all pertain to the upper class lacking morality.