The 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, critically discusses the ideals of the American Dream and recapturing the past. In the 2013 film adaptation, producer Baz Luhrmann translates the plot to portray a more modern take on the text. Although he uses verbatim quotes and loosely follows the pattern of themes, there are several distorted facts and altered settings. The movie is overall weighted more towards the beginning of the book, highlighting the first two chapters the most. When comparing relationships between the two texts, Nick, Gatsby, Myrtle, and Daisy exhibit several differences in social mobility.
In the book, many of the characters believed in “The Dream” that wealth and social mobility was achievable. Fitzgerald illustrates three specific social-economic classes: old money, new money, and the lower class. Authors Janny Scott and David Leonhardt state, “Mobility is the promise that lies at the heart of the American Dream… It is supposed to take the sting out of the widening gulf between the have-mores and the have nots” (1). Gatsby represents new money because he succeeded in a way of shady dealings and bootlegging. Gatsby’s lover, Daisy, represents old money. Although she earned nothing but her inheritance, Gatsby attempts to act as though he is old money by being accepted by her class.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
The 2013 film demonstrates the clear connection between the geographical location and social values of East Egg, West Egg, and the Valley of Ashes. Though they are separated by a small stretch of water, each character symbolizes the differences between new and old money. East Egg, home to Tom and Daisy, represents the sophisticated manners of hereditary nobility, West Egg, home to Gatsby, represents the newly rich, and the Valley of Ashes, home to Myrtle and George Wilson, represents the poor. According to Janny Scott and David Leonhardt, “It appears that while it is easier for a few high achievers to scale the summits of wealth, for many others it has become harder to move up from one economic class to the other” (1). In Chapter 2 of the novel, Fitzgerald describes, “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land” (23). In an area of poverty, Myrtle is viewed as a crude and vulgar character because she mocks Tom by saying “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy” (37). This shows she has little respect for Tom, who is of higher class than her; however, Daisy supports the view that the lower social classes presented as unfaithful. In contrast, the communities in East Egg and West Egg flourish with people living prosperous lives and hosting elaborate parties.
In both texts, the parties are large and grand, but the novel gives the feel of a party in the 1920’s rather than a modern-day twist. According to Fitzgerald, “They were at least agonizingly aware of the easy money” (46). Although the film exemplifies these overwhelming aspects regarding the rich, the book describes Jay Gatsby as a person who hoped for a future while living in the past. Fitzgerald says, “A sudden emptiness seemed to flow… endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host” (55). The illusion of a great life seemed to fool the narrator, Nick, because of Gatsby’s outside image.
Scott and Leonhardt state, “Trends are broad and seemingly contradictory: the rise in standards of living and the blurring of the landscape of class” (1). Gatsby’s multiple attempts to win Daisy over with luxury slowly seemed to fade when Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband, kept his money standards high.