Mobility In The Great Gatsby

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Is it possible for a person to change? Is a person forced to make due with the cards they were dealt? In her piece The Great Gatsby: Driving to Destruction with the Rich and Careless at the Wheel, Jacqueline Lance equates the personalities and characteristics of the characters in The Great Gatsby to the characteristics of their respective automobiles, suggesting stationary character personas. Just as Lance suggests a lack of mobility in character personalities through her analysis of The Great Gatsby and the prevalence of automobiles, F. Scott Fitzgerald proposes a lack of mobility within the class system. This paper will contend that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is tragedy of society, in which the absence of social mobility …show more content…
After spending the entire evening imitating her idea of a women from the upper class, Myrtle mentions Daisy’s name defiantly towards Tom and he “[breaks] her nose with his open hand”(37). When Tom, who represents the elite class that Myrtle desires to join, breaks her nose, he also eradicates the notion that she and Daisy are equals. Even though Tom invests excessive amounts of money in numerous gifts for Myrtle, to him, she is still a working class women from the Valley of Ashes who is incomparable to his high class wife. When Nick first introduces the Valley of Ashes, he points out the “persistent stare” of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, a pair of eyes on an advertising billboard that peer over the Valley (24). The billboard’s relentless gaze upon the Valley of Ashes insinuates an oppressive tone: it’s as if the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg are a prison guard, holding the inhabitants of the Valley of Ashes hostage, in their district, and in their social class. No matter what the people do, they cannot escape the doctor’s stare, and they cannot escape their place in society. Overall, The Great Gatsby is a tragedy of society because it highlights the lack of mobility within social classes. Fitzgerald demonstrates the lack of social maneuverability through the attempts of Gatsby to join the aristocracy and the plight of the inhabitants of the Valley of Ashes. A lack of social mobility is a tragedy because people should have the right to become whoever or whatever they desire. People are who they are because of the choices they make, not the families they were born