InFrancis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”, all the characters – withone exception – are corrupted by the power of money, shaping their lives,motives, emotions, relationships and actions. First,the main character, Gatsby, turns out to be someone in whom the most exaltedfeelings – love and dream of human potentialities – are infiltrated, andintimately corrupted by the obsession with money. Gatsby’s love for Daisy is inseparable from the love hehas for money and Daisy is barely distinguishable from the richness in Gatsby’smind. When Gatsby tells Nick of his first meeting with her, we see that it isthe sumptuousness of her house that impresses Gatsby above all else; Daisy’spower of seduction is inseparable from that of the house over him (p.141).
Moreover, Gatsby surprises Nick by defining the essenceof Daisy’s charm over him: in Gatsby’s ears, Daisy’s voice “is full of money” (p. 115). Itseems clear that Gatsby’s attraction to Daisy comes along with his dream ofsuccess and fortune.
His relationship to others is systematically mediated by the value ofexchange, because he always tries to “buy” the acceptance oraffection of others. The day of his reunion with Daisy, Gatsby, dressedin gold and silver clothing, hastens to show her his mansion and all itcontains, room by room. At the end of this visit, he displays before Daisy’seyes his entire collection of shirts. Gatsby does not have this attitudeonly with Daisy but also with Nick.
When the latter accepts to arrange areunion between Gatsby and Daisy at his place, Gatsby immediately offer him ajob for the service rendered; but Nick refuses for the very same reason.However, Gatsby is not the only characterdriven by his obsession with money. Daisy is unable to live her love for Gatsby by herattachment to the material luxury life of which her childhood was surrounded.She marries Tom after the war, for this reason, instead of waiting for thereturn of a Gatsby who has not yet made a fortune. When Gatsby is threatened bypublic rumor, she decides to stay with her husband to keep her financialsecurity. She will not even send a message at Gatsby’s funeral.Inaddition, Tom uses his wealth to control and dominate others, and his identityis defined by the things he owns, things he does not necessarily enjoy but thatfunction as signs of his power. As for Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, she isalso decisively motivated by money and merchandise.
What attracted her to Tomduring their first meeting was his costume and his luxurious shoes and whilethey are together, Tom is constantly buying the things she demands. Havingmarried a poor man, she is frustrated by her lack of money in a society where statusis determined by wealth.Thereforethe power of money is predominant in the novel, and its hold extends to all thecharacters – with one exception, however: Myrtle’s husband.
George Wilson turnsout to be the only true lover of the novel. Silently worshiping his wife, he isdevastated by her death, and his murder of Gatsby is the only act of the novelthat is not tainted with pecuniary motivation.In conclusion, money reigns overrelationships in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel.
All characters, with the exceptionof Wilson, are motivated by wealth and use it as an instrument of power.