The Great Gatsby is a profound tale of love, loss and the American Dream, however a key element which help to drive the novel, is the inexplicable connection all these different themes have to prosperity and money.
Both prosperity and money work hand-in-hand in this novel and achieve a sense of anguish in readers, as it not only reveals the ‘new’ truth behind the achievement of the American Dream, but also how money leads to the fall of even the most sincerest of men.
Money is clearly a huge factor in the novel, as it represent status and ensures that the social hierarchy is kept stable. Throughout The Great Gatsby, it is evident that there is a clear binary opposition between ‘old and new money’, the latter one being the least desired. The old money, representing the lineage of wealthy pure blue bloods, and the new money, people who desire to reach the elite status of the East Egg but will never achieve it. This clear separation of the two types of money can be seen in Fitzgerald’s East and West Egg. Through the appearance of the Eggs, it is clear to the readers that although both contain wealthy citizens, they inherently are not the same.
This undeniable difference leads us to their views on the American Dream. Although, the East Egg resent the West Egg, there are similarities between the two. Whilst the East Egg have already achieved the American Dream through inheritance, the West Egg, through work, achieve Fitzgerald’s interpretation of the American Dream, which is to become rich. This could be Fitzgerald’s personal jab at society on how the true nature of the American Dream has been lost and that people of the 1920’s society believed the only way in which one could prosper and achieve the American Dream is through money. This being said, the 1920’s was not the only time in which wealth was a key factor in achieving the American Dream and essentially eternal happiness.
This concept of money being the only way to achieve all of life’s joys and wonders still resonates today with contemporary readers. Personal traits of characters such as, the chauvinistic Tom Buchanan, can be seen in many people today, for example, bigots such as Donald Trump. Tom’s prejudice statements in Chapter 1 are similar to the ones Donald Trump states in the video below.
Although it can be stated that Donald Trump earnt his money, his ‘small loan’ of 'one million dollars' from his father, helped him well on his way to create the Trump empire. Clearly from old money like Tom, Trump attempts to downplay this clearly large amount of money and convey a tough upbringing, but failing, instead follows a more Tom like mannerism of an egotistical narcissist.
Trump is also a prime example, for demonstrating the power which comes with money. By the end of The Great Gatsby, the Buchanan’s are left to live out their lives, whilst those around them who were not of their elite status, would be harshly affected and broken by their actions or in the cases of Gatsby, George and Myrtle, dead. Although Trump has not yet got the power to kill anyone, it is clear that from his money he has great power legally. In addition to this, his campaign for Presidency is very concerning. When linking back to the American Dream, in 2015 Trump claimed that the American Dream was ‘dead’, and blaming all that is wrong with America on the Mexican immigrants who left for America to better their lives. Due to Trumps wealth it is inevitable that many people will follow him, and agree with his obnoxious statements.
It can clearly be established that the prosperity and money represented in The Great Gatsby can inevitably linked to modern day society.