The Great Gatsby “Emerson said it well: ‘Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself” (Peterson). The world is filled with cheapskates, phonies, and two-faced people. Many use others for their own benefits. Objects cannot define a relationship; it should be the feelings developed that defines the relationship of two people. The characteristic of materialism is a barrier for true love between two people. This relates to Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby.
Nick Carraway has just moved to a West Egg, and his mysterious neighbor is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby’s long living dream is to rekindle his love and relationship with Daisy Buchanan, who is currently married to Tom Buchanan. He attempts to pursue his relationship with Daisy through his unexplained wealth. However, their love couldn’t be true because of their focus on “things” rather than each other. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows that materialism can ruin the chance at true love. Gatsby tries to make Daisy love him through his money and excessive spending on nonessential things.
When him and Daisy first reconnect their relationship, he brings her over to his house to show off the clothes in his closet: “He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue.
Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily” (Fitzgerald 92). Gatsby is throwing his shirts everywhere to show that he is full of money and that they don’t mean much to him, acting like it doesn’t matter if they get ruined. He does this to show that his money is plentiful and he tries to make Daisy want to be with him and his rich lifestyle. Daisy starts to cry because she is overwhelmed with his prosperity and shows how she starts to love him through his riches.
Another way Gatsby tries to show off his wealth is by throwing a party and inviting Daisy and Tom, but at the end of the party she seemed apathetic. Gatsby noticed her weariness and was concerned, so he confided in Nick: “‘She didn’t like it,’ he insisted. ‘She didn’t have a good time. ’ He was silent, and I guessed at his unutterable depression. ‘I feel far away from her,’ he said. ‘It’s hard to make her understand’” (Fitzgerald 109). Gatsby implies that he threw the party so that she would enjoy herself and want to come back to him.
He tries to make his life seem very extravagant because he knows that it is what she looks for in a lover. Gatsby becomes unhappy because she was unhappy with his party; he feels that he must show off his money just to get Daisy to fall for him. Gatsby’s secret is revealed finally during a trip to the city: he and Tom get into an argument and Tom discloses the truth. Gatsby’s secret business of drug deals was the basis of his affluence.
Daisy is shocked and doesn’t know what to do as Gatsby tries to deny the facts: “It passed, and he began to talk excitedly to Daisy, denying everything, defending his name against accusations that had not been made. But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room” (Fitzgerald 134). Daisy becomes reluctant to the fact that it was a fake fortune while Gatsby tries to cover up his lies.
Although Daisy acted like she was in love with Gatsby before the incident, her feelings quickly faded as she realizes the truth. The money was the basis of their relationship and it was what held them together. This proves how their relationship was based off of money and how Daisy immediately forgot about how “in love” they were. This motif of materialism is explored because it shows how love can’t be genuine if it is based off of inanimate objects and money-oriented things. Myrtle is materialistic when she goes for the men with money and pretends to be in love with them.
In New York City with Tom and Nick, Myrtle explains to her friends how she felt about her new marriage with George and her realizations: “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman…I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe” (Fitzgerald 34). Myrtle married him because she thought he came from a wealthy family, breeded, or born, into money. When she found out he wasn’t rich, she knew she had made a mistake in marrying him. Myrtle is materialistic because she didn’t marry George for love, but for wealth.
Myrtle tells about the day she found out he wasn’t rich and admits to her regrets in marrying him. Myrtle was not expecting it: “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out” (Fitzgerald 35). Myrtle finds out that George had borrowed someone’s suit to use during their wedding because he couldn’t afford one on his own. This shows the love that George has for Myrtle and how he goes far to make sure she gets the best wedding ever.
It also shows how Myrtle doesn’t love him, and how was judging him for borrowing a suit. Myrtle is materialistic because she got upset over a suit being borrowed and not purchased for their wedding. Myrtle and Tom’s relationship is materialistic. While in NYC, Myrtle gets Tom to buy her a dog off the streets: “I want to get one of those dogs…I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have—a dog” (Fitzgerald 27). Myrtle asks for a dog and gets one because of Tom’s wealth and uses it to her advantage. Myrtle takes Tom’s money for granted and pursues a relationship with him because she knows he is rich.
Her materialism is shown through her fake relationships with Tom and George; it reveals that she only has relationships with wealthy men and she was not really “in love” with either of the two men. Her materialistic needs clashed with her path to finding love. This motif of love is explored because it shows how people in this world use others for their money. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows that a materialistic mindset will corrupt the chance at true love. Gatsby tried to get Daisy to love him again by showing off his money and failed because he didn’t put his heart and self into their relationship.
Myrtle mistakenly married a man whom she thought was wealthy and turned out he was poor. She quickly regretted their marriage and had an affair with Tom Buchanan, a well known rich man. Fitzgerald demonstrates how none of these relationships worked out because of the materialistic ways of these characters. This motif is explored because it proves how true love isn’t real with fake values. True love should be two people who love each other unconditionally and is not based on money-oriented things.