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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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. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy mirrors Fitzgerald’s turbulent relationship with Zelda who much like Daisy, was regarded as being incredibly materialistic. Gatsby can therefore be seen as a representing Fitzgerald’s pursuit of sufficient wealth to support an aristocratic love interest. He does this to the detriment of his artistic integrity which he compromised by writing short stories to fund Zelda’s opulent lifestyle. This is mirrored by Gatsby compromising his integrity and personal worth by bootlegging and lying about being the ‘son of some wealthy people in the Middle-West’, in order to please Daisy and hopefully gain acceptance. He fails in both these areas. In integrating elements of his personal life, Fitzgerald may be implying that loving someone of a different social class comes with compromises and that one may lose sight of who they are in the process.

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 ‘The Great Gatsby’ by virtue of its representations of wealth and class can be seen as a running criticism of the American Dream and America’s obsession with wealth amidst the hedonistic culture of the 1920’s. The American Dream had originally been founded on the notion that anyone, irrespective  of their background could achieve anything in the ‘land of opportunity’ if they worked hard enough. Fitzgerald however, believed that the American Dream was just an ‘illusion’ and that it had been corrupted by the of pursuit wealth. He consistently challenged the idea of the achievability of the American Dream in ‘The Great ...

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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 ****