The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald: Wealth Literary Analysis and Symbolism Essay

            In the novel The Great Gatsby, champagne flows freely.  Women don diamond necklaces and tiaras.  Men drive extravagant sports cars.  Parties last for days.  We all want to be part of the ultra-rich and enjoy the luxurious lifestyle and never have to worry about money. We might expect that someone who has all of the wealth and comforts of life would be content, or perhaps even complacent, sitting in a room somewhere, counting piles of money and feeling satisfied.

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The Great Gatsby and Wealth Symbolism Analysis 

Yet, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby shows the dual-edged nature of wealth: we simultaneously envy the glamorous life, and yet we harshly judge those who have it. Through interrupted sentences and the diction of movement, Fitzgerald shows how all of us, including the narrator, simultaneously envy and hate wealthy men like Tom Buchanan.

The Great Gatsby: Tom Buchanan and Wealth Analysis  

The author Scott Fitzgerald highlights the limitations of Tom’s materialistic lifestyle through the diction of movement—he presents Tom as someone who is not content with what he has, and constantly searches for something fulfilling—for something more. Nick explains that he “felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game” (10). These words echo a feeling of purposeless movement, from “drift on,” which connotes aimlessness, to “wistfully” and “irrecoverable,” which imply futility.  Fitzgerald portrays Tom as someone who longs for deliberate movement, but who can at best “drift on forever seeking” (10). 

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The Great Gatsby: Tom Buchanan’s House Analysis

Tom’s life, by all outward appearances, is calm and orderly. His beautiful house seems a place of refuge from the storms that toss the rest of us poorer souls about—but even Tom’s yard, which surrounds this fortress of wealth, is restless:  “the lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door…jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens—finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run” (11).  The lawn is a place of activity and movement, a place of restless energy, a place that is free and roaming—its “jumping” and “momentum” signifies the youthfulness and vitality that Tom Buchanan now seems to lack, having become master of this house. 

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The Great Gatsby Essay: Tom Buchanan, Wealth, and Materialism Symbolism Analysis

When Nick first sees Tom, Tom “[is] standing with his legs apart on the front porch” (11) —he is standing, not jumping.  He “stands” still and majestic, like a rugged bronzed statue, rather than moving like a flesh-and-blood man. Fitzgerald further acknowledges the limitations of Tom’s materialistic lifestyle through the diction of movement; he presents Tom as someone who is not content with what he has and is constantly searching for something fulfilling—for something more—in contrast with the go-getting main character the Great Gatsby himself. 

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