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Explore F.Scotts Fitzgeralds presentation of class and wealth in The Great Gatsby and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.

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Introduction

Explore F.Scotts Fitzgeralds presentation of class and wealth in 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz'. Wealth and social class permeate much of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz'. Set during the roaring twenties when many people had newly accumulated wealth after the war, both texts seek to explore and satirise the complexities of wealth and social class. They particularly focus on how far people may go to fit into a social class or protect their fortune. Despite 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz' being set within the fantasy genre, elements of Fitzgerald's own life run as undercurrents throughout both texts. Fitzgerald's life features heavily in the texts, be it through the characterisation of Nick and Gatsby or the underlying references to his personal experiences. The experiences of the main protagonists' form parallels with Fitzgerald's interactions with the wealthy, both at Princeton and Great Neck and in his relationship with Zelda. 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz' satirises the exuberant wealth experienced by Fitzgerald when visiting a Princeton classmate. 'The Great Gatsby' on the other hand, is more reliant on aspects of Fitzgerald's own life which forms the emotional foundation of the novel. ...read more.

Middle

Fitzgerald employs a myriad of symbolisms, metaphors and similes to depict the sheer luxury and over exuberance of the aristocrats within both texts. Through these devices he is able to satirise the materialistic world the aristocrats inhabit, making it appear outlandish. In 'The Diamond as Big as the Ritz' John Unger, a boy from Hades with 'meager standards of living' is 'amused and delighted', by the luxurious lifestyle Percy and his family lead. When he arrives with Percy they are driven in what Percy dismissively calls a 'buggy'. However, the reader can extrapolate from John's reaction at the 'thousand minute tapestries of silk, woven with jewels' that the vehicle is far from an old buggy. In this instance John's amazement may have been employed to paradox Percy's dismissive attitude towards wealth as he refers to the luxurious car as 'old junk'. Fitzgerald may have used this paradox highlight the hollow nature of the wealthy, whose lives are fueled by consumerism to the extent that they place little value to the possessions everyone else would deem as extraordinary. In 'The Great Gatsby', Nick is also amazed by the wealth he experiences at the Buchanan home. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gatsby's vast wardrobe is a 'heavy defensive wall' consisting of 'thick silk' and 'expensive dye' which support the Marxist view of material possessions providing a barrier against hardship which the rich can hide behind. For Gatsby, and many others, material possessions help to protect their status in the same way the 'invisible cloak' of Gatsby's army uniform had hidden his lower class status when he first met Daisy. In general, the negative portrayal of consumerism in his work has made him very popular with Marxist writers. In conclusion, Fitzgerald uses 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Diamond as Big as Ritz' to highlight the negative elements of wealth and class, whilst particularly emphasising that class roles will never be crossed. Both texts highlight the potential hazards of capitalist societies when one becomes consumed by materialism, placing greater importance on monetary fortune and status than the consequences of their actions. Although Fitzgerald presents both wealth and class in negative lights he reminds the reader that wealth alone does not give way to moral corruption hinting that it is wealth in conjunction with high social class that leads to the decaying of one's moral compass. 1 http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/94327/the-deconstruction-of-the-american-dream-in-the-great-gatsby ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a good essay demonstrating knowledge of both texts and a genuine engagement with the task in hand. Ideas are considered articulately and the writer can use embedded quotations fluently to support points. There are some points for improvement:
1) The essay ideally needs to be comparative throughout. Topic sentences at the start of paragraphs can establish clear comparative points for analysis.
2) There is good evidence of use of the text at times, but this needs to be more consistent, providing opportunity for detailed analysis.
3) Structurally, the biographical comments might be better placed near the end of the essay, enabling focused textual analysis earlier in the essay. Alternatively, relevant contextual references can be integrated into other points in the essay.

Overall, four stars ****

Marked by teacher Lucy Foss 26/06/2013

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