In The Great Gatsby, money is a vast motivator in the characters" relationships, motivations, and also outcomes.

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Many of the personalities disclose themselves to be very materialistic, their motivations pushed by their desire for money and things: Daisy marries and remains through Tom because of the lifestyle he can carry out her, Myrtle has her affair with Tom because of the privileged people it grants her accessibility to, and also Gatsby even lusts after Daisy as if she is a prize to be won. After all, her voice is "complete of money—that was the inexhaustible cinjury that climbed and also dropped in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals" song of it. . . . High in a white royal residence the king"s daughter, the golden girl. . . ." (7.106).

So how precisely does materialism reveal itself as a theme, how can it help us analyze the personalities, and also what are some prevalent assignments bordering this theme? We will certainly dig into all things money here in this guide.


Money and also materialism in the plotKey quotes about money/materialismExamining characters by means of money/materialismUsual assignments and analysis of money/materialism in Gatsby

Rapid Note on Our Citations

Our citation format in this overview is (chapter.paragraph). We"re utilizing this mechanism because there are many type of editions of Gatsby, so using web page numbers would only work-related for students via our copy of the book.

To uncover a quotation we point out using chapter and also paragraph in your book, you deserve to either eyeball it (Paragraph 1-50: start of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-on: finish of chapter), or use the search function if you"re utilizing an virtual or eReader version of the text.

Money and also Materialism in The Great Gatsby

In the opening peras, Nick develops himself as someone that has had actually many benefits in life—a affluent family and also an Ivy League education and learning to name simply 2. In spite of not being as well-off as Tom and also Daisy, his second cousin, they view him as enough of a peer to invite him to their house in Chapter 1. Nick"s link to Daisy consequently renders him attractive to Gatsby. If Nick were simply a middle-course everymale, the story might not play out in the exact same method.

Tom and also Daisy"s activities are also supported by their money. At the start of the novel they move to fashionable East Egg, after relocating roughly between "wherever before human being played polo and also were well-off together," and also are able to very easily pick up and also leave at the end of the book after the murders, thanks to the defense their money provides (1.17). Daisy, for her component, just begins her affair through Gatsby after an extremely detailed screen of his riches (using the mansion tour). She even breaks down in tears after Gatsby reflects off his ridiculously expensive collection of colored shirts, crying that she"s "never checked out such beautiful shirts" before (5.118).

Gatsby"s notoriety comes from, first and foremany, his huge wealth, wide range he has gathered to win over Daisy. Gatsby was born to poor farmer parents in North Dakota, yet at 17, identified to end up being wealthy, struck out through the wealthy Dan Cody and never looked earlier (6.5-15). Even though he wasn"t able to inherit any component of Cody"s fortune, he provided what he learned of affluent culture to initially cdamage Daisy prior to shipping out to WWI. (In a unidevelop she had actually no idea he was negative, particularly provided his sophisticated manners). Then, after returning residence and realizing Daisy was married and also gone, he collection out to earn enough money to win Daisy over, turning to crime through a partnership with Meyer Wolfshiem to easily amass riches (9.83-7).

On the other hand, Tom"s mistress and anxiety Myrtle, a car mechanic"s wife, puts on airs and also tries to pass as well-off via her affair through Tom, however her involvement with the Buchanans gets her eliminated. George Wilson, in comparison, is constrained by his lack of wealth. He tells Tom Buchanan after finding out around Myrtle"s affair that he plans to move her West, yet he " money pretty bad" in order to make the relocate (7.146). Tragically, Myrtle is hit and also eliminated that evening by Daisy. If George Wilboy had actually had actually the indicates, he likely would certainly have actually already left New York through Myrtle in tow, conserving both of their stays.

Hardly anyone shows up to Gatsby"s funeral considering that they were just attracted by his wide range and also the parties, not the guy himself. This is encapsulated in a phone speak to Nick explains, to a man that used to pertained to Gatsby"s parties: "one gentleman to whom I telephoned implied that he had obtained what he deoffered. However before, that was my fault, for he was one of those who provided to sneer a lot of bitterly at Gatsby on the courage of Gatsby"s liquor and also I must have actually known better than to contact him" (9.69).

In short, money both drives the plot and also describes many kind of of the characters" motivations and constraints.

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Then wear the gold hat, if that will certainly move her;If you have the right to bounce high, bounce for her as well,Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,I should have you!"


The epigraph of the novel automatically marks money and materialism as a vital layout of the book—the listener is implored to "wear the gold hat" as a means to impush his lover. In other words, wide range is presented as the crucial to love—such an essential crucial that the word "gold" is repetitive twice. It"s not enough to "bounce high" for someone, to win them over with your cdamage. You need riches, the more the much better, to win over the object of your desire.

"They had spent a year in France, for no certain factor, and also then drifted right here and also tright here unrestcompletely wherever world played polo and also were wealthy together." (1.17)

Our development to Tom and also Daisy instantly defines them as well-off, bored, and also privileged. Tom"s restlessness is likely one motivator for his affairs, while Daisy is weighed dvery own by the understanding of those affairs. This combicountry of restlessness and resentment puts them on the course to the tragedy at the end of the book.

"Tright here was music from my neighbor"s home through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and also went choose moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft or taking the sunlight on the warm sand also of his beach while his 2 motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and also from the city, in between nine in the morning and also long previous midnight, while his terminal wagon scampered like a bhazard yellow bug to satisfy all trains. And on Mondays eight servants consisting of an additional gardener toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravperiods of the night before…." (3.1-3.6)

The summary of Gatsby"s parties at the start of Chapter 3 is long and also very comprehensive, and therefore it highlights the extraordinary extent of Gatsby"s wide range and materialism. In contrast to Tom and Daisy"s expensive yet not overly gaudy mansion, and also the small dinner party Nick attends tright here in Chapter 1, every little thing about Gatsby"s new wealth is over-the-peak and showy, from the cprices of ovarieties brought in and juiced one-by-one by a butler to the full orchestra.

Everyone who pertains to the parties is attracted by Gatsby"s money and wealth, making the society of money-worship a society-wide trfinish in the novel, not simply something our primary personalities autumn victim to. After all, "People were not invited—they went there" (3.7). No one comes due to cshed individual friendship through Jay. Everyone is tright here for the spectacle alone.

He took out a pile of shirts and started throwing them, one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and also thick silk and fine flannel which shed their folds as they dropped and spanned the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he carried even more and the soft well-off heap placed higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and also plaids in coral and apple-green and also lavender and also faint orange through monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly via a strained sound, Daisy bent her head right into the shirts and also began to cry stormily.

"They"re such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad bereason I"ve never checked out such—such beautiful shirts before." (5.117-118)

Gatsby, favor a peacock reflecting off its many-colored tail, flaunts his wealth to Daisy by reflecting off his many-colored shirts. And, fascinatingly, this is the initially minute of the day Daisy totally breaks down emotionally—not as soon as she initially sees Gatsby, not after their initially long conversation, not also at the initial sight of the mansion—however at this extremely conspicuous display screen of wide range. This speaks to her materialism and how, in her civilization, a certain amount of riches is a obstacle to enattempt for a relationship (friendship or more).

"She"s obtained an indiscreet voice," I remarked. "It"s full of——"

I hesitated.

"Her voice is full of money," he shelp suddenly.

That was it. I"d never before taken before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible cdamage that increased and also dropped in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals" song of it. . . . High in a white royal residence the king"s daughter, the gold girl. . . . (7.103-106)

Daisy herself is clearly associated through money here, which allows the reader to view Gatsby"s desire for her as desire for riches, money, and also standing even more primarily. So while Daisy is materialistic and is attracted to Gatsby again due to his newly-gained wealth, we check out Gatsby is attracted to her also because of the money and also standing she represents.

I couldn"t foroffer him or like him but I witnessed that what he had done was, to him, totally justified. It was all exceptionally careless and also confused. They were caremuch less world, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their substantial carelessness or whatever before it was that retained them together, and also let other civilization clean up the mess they had made. . . . (9.146)

Here, in the consequences of the novel"s carnage, Nick observes that while Myrtle, George, and also Gatsby have actually all passed away, Tom and also Daisy are not puniburned at all for their recklessness, they have the right to sindicate retreat "earlier into their money or their vast carelessness… and let other human being clean up the mess." So money below is more than simply status—it"s a shield versus obligation, which enables Tom and Daisy to behave actually recklessly while various other characters suffer and die in quest of their dreams.

Money: the ultimate shrug-off.

Assessing Characters Through Materialism

We touched on this a bit with the quotes, but all of the personalities deserve to be analyzed from the allude of view of their wide range and/or just how materialistic they are. This analysis deserve to enwealthy an essay about old money versus brand-new money, the Amerihave the right to dream, or also a much more straightforward character evaluation, or a compariboy of 2 various characters. Mining the text for a character"s mindset towards money deserve to be a really helpful method to understand their motivations in the world of 1920s New York.

If you analyze a character through this theme, make sure to explain:

#1: Their perspective in the direction of money.

#2: How money/materialism drives their options in the novel.

#3: How their final outcome is shaped by their riches status and what that claims around their area in the human being.

Character Analysis Example

As an instance, let"s look briefly at Myrtle. We acquire our best look at Myrtle in Chapter 2, as soon as Tom takes Nick to watch her in Queens and they end up going to the New York City apartment Tom keeps for Myrtle and hosting a little gathering (after Tom and also Myrtle hook up, with Nick in the following room!).

Myrtle is obsessed via reflects of wealth, from her outfits, to insisting on a specific cab, to her apartment"s decoration, complete through scenes of Versailles on the overly-big furniture: "The living room was crowded to the doors with a collection of tapestried furniture completely also large for it so that to move around was to stumble continually over scenes of ladies swinging in the gardens of Versailles" (2.51). She also adopts a various persona among her guests: "The intense vitality that had actually been so amazing in the garage was converted right into superior hauteur. Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently impacted moment by moment and also as she broadened the room thrived smaller around her until she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot with the smoky air" (2.56).

In Myrtle"s eyes, money is an escape from life via her husband in the valley of ashes, something that brings standing, and somepoint that buys course. After all, Tom"s money secures her fancy apartment and allows her to lord it over her guests and also play at sophistication, even while Nick looks down his nose at her.

Obviously there is physical chemisattempt driving her affair with Tom, but she appears to acquire as a lot (if not more) pleasure from the materials that come with the affair—the apartment, the garments, the dog, the parties. So she keeps up this affair, despite exactly how ethically questionable it is and also the danger it opens up for her—her materialism, in various other words, is her major motivator.

However, despite her airs, she matters very little bit to the "old money" crowd, as cruelly confirmed first when Tom breaks her nose with a "brief deft movement" (2.126), and later, when Daisy chooses to run her over rather than obtain right into a automobile accident. Myrtle"s character reveals exactly how precarious social climbing is, how materialism is not actually a route to happiness/virtue.

In this novel, actual hill climbing is safer than social climbing.

Common Assignments and also Discussion Topics About Money and Materialism in The Great Gatsby

Here are means to think about frequently assigned topics on this the design template of money and materialism.

Discuss Tom & Daisy as human being who "smash things and retreat right into their money"

As questioned above, money—and also especially having inherited money—not just assures a certain social class, it guarantees security and also privilege: Tom and Daisy deserve to literally live by different rules than various other, less-wealthy world. While Gatsby, Myrtle, and also George all end up dead, Tom and Daisy obtain to skip tvery own and prevent any results, despite their direct involvement.

For this prompt, you can check out earlier examples of Tom"s carelessness (breaking Myrtle"s nose, his behavior in the hotel scene, letting Daisy and Gatsby drive earlier to Long Island also after the fight in the hotel) and also Daisy"s (throwing a fit just prior to her wedding but going via with it, kissing Gatsby through her husband in the next room). Show exactly how each circumstances reveals Tom or Daisy"s carelessness, and also exactly how those instances therefore foreshadow the bigger tragedy—Myrtle"s death at Daisy"s hands, adhered to by Tom"s manipulation of George to kill Gatsby.

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You can additionally compare Tom and Daisy"s actions and also outinvolves various other personalities to help make your point—Myrtle and also Gatsby both contribute to the problem by participating in affairs with Tom and also Daisy, however obviously, Myrtle and Gatsby do not acquire to "retreat into their money," they both finish up dead. Clbeforehand, having actually old money sets you much acomponent from everyone else in the civilization of the novel.