The Great Gatsby And The Big Sleep – Wealth
Moreover, it is noticeable that, in both novels some characters use their wealth to hide their true desires or loneliness, as they believe their front of money and joy will give them social status and power. This is shown mainly by Gatsby who throws elaborate and excessive parties to try and conceal the fact he has no real friends and that all he really want is Daisy. He seems to think very strongly that people will admire him if he has these exaggerated parties and flaunts his wealth, and that they will not see his true sadness.
Although Gatsby has a house full of people all he really wants is one friend to go swimming with: “Well, suppose we take a plunge in the swimming-pool? I haven’t made use of it all summer. ” (Chapter 3) This a clear example of where money can’t buy you happiness and still leads to isolation. The 1920s was an era of excess due to the abundance of people who gained lots of money through bootlegging, this is strongly represented through Gatsby, who is a symbol of this crazy era: ” among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars”, however all this excess doesn’t bring people closer together as at Gatsby’s parties: “introductions forgotten on the spot”. This isolation is mirrored in ‘The Big Sleep’ by Marlowe’s quote: “I didn’t go near the Sternwood family. I went back to the office and sat in my swivel chair and tried to catch up on my foot-dangling” (Chapter 21). Although he tries to act as he doesn’t care about being alone through sarcasm and his rejection of others this quote creates a sense of isolation.
Alternatively, Marlowe’s loneliness could be seen as a conscious choice as he doesn’t want to be around corrupt individuals, such as the Sternwoods, so he is able to keep his morality, but although this may be true he still sounds quite lonely, as he doesn’t have a partner for his job and he’s always working. As the novel progresses he becomes more disillusioned with the Sternwood’s and his interactions with them: “I got up feeling sluggish and tired and stood looking out of the window, with a dark harsh taste of Sternwood still in my mouth. I was as empty of life as a scarecrow’s pockets”. The bleak simile shows how isolated and depressed he is, yet he would still rather be drinking alone than interact with the corrupt and wealthy people of Los Angeles in the 1930s. Later in Chandler’s life he suffered from the depression and loneliness after his wife’s death in 1964,so in some ways his first book foreshadowed his future in the form of Marlowe was an alcoholic and isolated, which Chandler eventually became.
Finally those with Old Money judge those who have earned their New Money – this is often due to the fact that those who are newly rich have earned their money illegally – this is the case for Gatsby who earned his cash through bootlegging during the era of Prohibition. Additionally, everything about Gatsby suggests excess and he tries to conspicuously display his money in order to attract Daisy, which backfires as those with Old Money do not need to parade it, and this is another reason Gatsby is regarded with contempt by Tom (and to an extent Daisy) Buchanan. An example of this is: “See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too – didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”, although Gatsby can buy the same things as those with Old Money, he cannot buy their status or education, which is why Old Money families look down upon Gatsby – he wasn’t raised the same way as them with the same sense of morality or lack thereof.
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