The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Lens

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 602 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 602|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Examining The Great Gatsby through a Marxist lens illuminates the underlying socioeconomic tensions and critiques prevalent in F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel. Set during the opulent 1920s, the narrative explores the excesses of the Jazz Age and the stark contrasts between the wealthy elite and the working class. This essay delves into the novel's depiction of wealth, class, and power dynamics, revealing the ways in which Fitzgerald employs a Marxist perspective to unveil the darker realities of the American Dream.

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At the heart of the Marxist analysis is the examination of class divisions and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few. The characters in The Great Gatsby embody distinct class positions that reflect the disparities of the era. Jay Gatsby, for example, epitomizes the nouveau riche – a self-made millionaire who accumulated his wealth through dubious means. His lavish parties and extravagant displays of opulence underscore the excesses of the upper class, revealing a conspicuous consumption that contrasts sharply with the struggles of the working class.

Tom Buchanan, on the other hand, represents the old money aristocracy – those who inherit their wealth and status. His sense of entitlement and casual racism exemplify the attitudes of the established elite, who view their social position as inherently superior. Tom's affair with Myrtle Wilson, a working-class woman, underscores the exploitation and objectification of those with lower social status. This dynamic showcases the ways in which class privilege can perpetuate a cycle of inequality and reinforce power imbalances.

Furthermore, Fitzgerald uses symbolism to convey the Marxist critique of wealth disparity. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, depicted on a billboard, serve as a haunting reminder of the moral decay and spiritual emptiness underlying the pursuit of wealth. These eyes, often interpreted as the watchful gaze of capitalism, highlight the dehumanizing effects of a society driven by materialism and profit. As characters chase their material desires, they remain blind to the ethical consequences of their actions and the suffering of the less fortunate.

The Marxist lens also reveals the illusory nature of the American Dream in the novel. Gatsby's infatuation with Daisy Buchanan and his relentless pursuit of wealth reflect the aspiration for upward mobility that is central to the American Dream. However, Gatsby's success is built on a foundation of bootlegging and criminal activity, indicating that the American Dream may be attainable only through morally dubious means. Additionally, the tragic ending of the novel underscores the fleeting nature of success and the emptiness that can accompany the pursuit of material wealth at the expense of genuine human connections.

It's important to note that while the Marxist analysis highlights the class struggle and critiques the excesses of capitalism, it also offers a lens through which to examine individual agency and moral choices. While Gatsby's wealth may be ill-gotten, his intentions are rooted in a genuine desire to win Daisy's love. This complexity underscores the tension between personal aspirations and systemic inequalities, suggesting that individuals may be both victims and perpetuators of the unequal economic structure.

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Ultimately, The Great Gatsby serves as a cautionary tale that exposes the dark underbelly of the Roaring Twenties. By applying a Marxist lens to the novel, readers gain a deeper understanding of the power dynamics, class divisions, and societal critiques that permeate the narrative. The novel's portrayal of opulence and excess, juxtaposed with the struggles of the working class, resonates with the Marxist critique of capitalism and its implications for social inequality. Fitzgerald's exploration of the American Dream as a hollow pursuit of material wealth speaks to the enduring relevance of the novel's themes in contemporary discussions of wealth, class, and social justice.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Lens. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Lens.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Lens. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
The Great Gatsby Through a Marxist Lens [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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