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The Obsession with Materialism in The Great Gatsby

Great Gatsby written by F Scott Fitzgerald is the best example of the industrial zone and the aspect of class structure in the 1920s America. All the characters in this novel are completely obsessed and immersed in the aspect of materialism and they think that material aspects of life bring happiness. Materialism is termed as the obsession and obsession to materialistic wealth as well as positions at the cost of intellectual and spiritual well-being. Spirituality is the attachment of the sensitivity to different religious values (Fuad p20).

According to Fuad, materialism has been found in the three main characters of this novel. This aspect of materialism has been found due to different priorities. The three characters that exemplify the trait of materialism are Daisy, Tom and Gatsby. In this particular novel the aspect of materialism and spirituality as well as the changes of identity or seen in these three characters.

The first character is Daisy who is the best example of materialism versus spirituality. When she was young she was a lady who was in love with Gatsby but did not marry him because “I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me…” (Fitzgerald p 37). This aspect of materialism had affected Daisy and it has also affected her future when she had married Tom who was a rich man. She had only wanted the best things in life but realised that she was not happy with Tom because ultimately money could not buy ultimate happiness. After meeting Gatsby for the first time in five years, Daisy had again become the same young lady who was in love with Gatsby before she had met Tom.

Daisy was obsessed with the glitz and glamour of the materialistic world and she wanted a safe and secure life which could only come from money. This made her reject Gatsby even if she loved him and she had to marry not for love but for money. She realised her mistake when she met Gatsby after five years. For a while she had forgotten all the materialistic aspects of the world and she said.

The next character is Tom who is the person  that shows a very strong obsession with materialistic aspect and he has no  spirituality in him. He is a big example of the big American dream and he is very wealthy which makes him break all the rules. Tom betrays Daisy by having an affair and Tom does not think twice before causing an accident. “She is not leaving me, certainly not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her finger.”( Fitzgerald p142) This quote proves the fact that Tom was a materialistic person who only cared about the amount of money people had. 

The last character is Gatsby who also shows the fight between material and spirituality. Gatsby is an example of materialistic aspect because he was forced to become rich so that Daisy would accept him. He wanted to prove himself to her and that was only possible through wealth, which he did not have. This made Gatsby do some dishonest actions in order to become rich and prosperous just so that he could win the love of disease. The main reason he wanted wealth and status was not for happiness but for Daisy who was his ultimate goal of happiness. He had hoped that if he was successful one day them he would marry her therefore his ultimate goal of happiness was her and not the money. His house was a big example of this dream because it was a synthetic place which was only built for Daisy and not because he really wanted to have a luxurious life. “My house looks well doesn’t it? He demanded. See how the whole front of it catches the light.“ (Fitzgerald p 95). He had realised that Daisy did not want to marry him because he was poor and he made it the biggest goal of his life to become really wealthy so that he could impress Daisy and marry her someday (Arum p10).

Therefore to conclude, all these three characters show the different aspects of materialism and spirituality and how either materialism or spirituality cutting of a person or make them confused. Gatsby was the perfect example of an individual who was very spiritual and knew the ideals of life but he was purposefully ready to let go of them just because he loved an individual who prioritised money and materialism over spirituality. This had caused Gatsby to become rich and become purposefully obsessed with materialism which ultimately led to his death. This novel shows the perfect example of the big American dream and the things people sacrificed just to get materialistic gain which ultimately was only the outer glamour which darkened The inner workings of the mind.     

References

 Arum, Sekar Setyaning. The influence of materialism towards characters development in F. Scott fitzgerald’s the great gatsby. Diss. Universitas Katolik Widya Mandala Madiun, 2019.

Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925). na, 1991.

Fuad, Nurul Shafira. The effect of materialism towards myrtle in the great gatsby and madame mathilde in “the necklace”. Diss. UIN Sunan Ampel Surabaya, 2019.

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