F. Scott Fitzgerald uses his novel The Great Gatsby as a way to compare old and new money and to illustrate the lack of morals in those with old money. The main character, Jay Gatsby, representing Fitzgerald's personification of new money, makes his living selling alcohol illegally. He earns his money quickly and is now showing it off with fabulous parties in his oversized mansion in West Egg. Another character, Tom Buchanan, represents old money being the "scion of those ruthless generations who raised up the great American fortunes." Both act out their dreams. Gatsby's is to get Daisy while Tom's is to completely possess Daisy as well as to appear as a well-rounded intellectual. Tom and others in his class inherited their money and live elegantly in East Egg. Gatsby, who is on the surface an immoral person and the personification of new money, turns out to be a better person than those self-centered possessors of the old money.
Gatsby lives in West Egg, a town comparable to Hollywood, which is very superficial, fast moving, and full of immoralities. He is thought to be the personification of new money by Nick and others that surrounded him because he showed off his wealth by throwing large parties, dressing flamboyantly, and owning many overly luxurious possessions. One of the most extreme expressions of his is his car, described as "a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory..." His car is very noticeable, "Everybody had seen it." (Fitzgerald 68). Another example of Gatsby flaunting his wealth is the large parties he throws; in fact they are so large he hires extra help to clean up after the weekend is over. To some Gatsby is just flaunting his wealth but all of his actions revolve around his ultimate goal, Daisy. He bought his house to be close to her, he shows off so she would take notice to him, and he did not care who came to his parties. In fact very few of the people who attended his parties had been actually invited, but he allows this in hopes that Daisy would attend. This is only an extreme example of the personification of the upper class, but not as Richard Chase's criticism, which suggests that the characters are represented realistically. The characters are not representative of reality. The characters presented in The Great Gatsby are exaggerations of Fitzgerald's perceptions of their social class.
East Egg is home to those with old money. This is a town with large luxurious white houses directly across the bay, and in contrast to, West Egg. This is home to the elegant and sophisticated old money that lacks morals. Their possessions are bland colored. Their houses, cars, and clothes all were white or very bland. Daisy wears white dresses, drives a white car, and lives in a white house and Tom wears tan suits. These represent their lack of substance and understanding. Because of this lack of understanding they lack morals. Tom consistently cheats on his wife. Daisy also is without morals; she intentionally kills her husband's girlfriend and consistently takes advantage of Gatsby, using him without even considering leaving Tom for him because he was not rich enough. Fitzgerald uses these characters to show that even though old money looks respectable and sophisticated it lacks morals. Even though on the surface new money looks immoral, its motives are pure and its goals are good.
Gatsby sets a goal for himself that he would do anything to become rich; in order to end up with Daisy. He takes the stereotypical route of becoming rich in West Egg, crime. He starts "drug stores" that were actually fronts for selling alcohol. Tom Buchanan earned some of his money by working; he already achieved most of his success, and the overwhelming majority by inheritance. Marius Bewley proves this in the literary criticism. He states in his article, "Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America", that Gatsby and Tom are opposites. One of the biggest differences is their means. Gatsby illegally makes his money, to support his dream, and Tom has already earned his money. This shows Bewley's view that Gatsby's dreams are making his potential forever increasing, while Tom has already reached his peak and is on his way down, he only sells stocks for enjoyment. Another example of how Fitzgerald shows the two as opposites is that Gatsby turned a stable into a garage for his cars, and Tom changed his garage into a stable, showing them as exact opposites. An important opposite between the two is their physical features. Gatsby is described, page 6, as "Having something gorgeous about him." This is in direct contrast to Tom who had "A cruel body capable of much leverage." (Fitzgerald11). The differences between the two are very great. Gatsby is described as "Very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friends wife." (Fitgerald 77). Gatsby's ideas about Daisy are different, since he loved her since before she was married. Tom is very different; he doesn't love Daisy. He cheats on his wife constantly. But he holds Daisy to him, by using the necklace. She gets married in it, as if being forced to, without any expression, described on page 81.This also shows how little is thought of marriage by the East Eggers, as to not be devoted enough about the prospect of marriage to be nervous about its long term commitment.
Gatsby's dream was to have reciprocated love from Daisy. All the actions that he had taken since they had met are in pursuit of this goal. He is very active in pursuing her, and after he catches her eye he is loyal to her. The greatest expression of his loyalty is that he took the blame for Daisy's blatant action in killing her husband's mistress, Myrtle. Even after that Gatsby looks out for Daisy by waiting by her house to be sure Tom would not be mad at her. Though Gatsby did all these things for Daisy she still did not leave her husband for him. The most influential reason for this is that Tom used an expensive engagement present, a 350 thousand dollar pearl necklace, to "chain" her to him. This idea is described in Arthur Mizener's literary criticism. "Tom uses these means to obtain and control Daisy." (Bewley). The pearls were around her neck "like a chain." Even though she is clearly attached to Tom; Gatsby's loyalty to Daisy is what eventually led to his murder.
The final example of the condescending carelessness of the East Eggers is Tom and Daisy's escape. At the end of the novel they both flee, leaving all the things that they had "Carelessly set into motion" which results in deaths and unnecessary hardships that they had caused in other people's lives. Daisy just wanted to have her own fun with Gatsby, even though she was knew was bound to Tom. Tom had carelessly set up the whole incident with Myrtle that led to Gatsby taking the blame, and to his death.