Examine the relationship between class and love in The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald presents class as a barrier to Gatsby and Daisy's relationship. It is revealed that Gatsby and Daisy did not marry because Gatsby sought to acquire wealth so that he could provide Daisy with the life she deserves. The pearls that Tom gives to Daisy on their wedding night become a symbol of the wealth which Daisy chooses over Gatsby. Tom has 'won' Daisy over with money and this is shown through the pearls she wears on her neck, like a dog collar highlighting Tom's dominance. In the present, though Gatsby is incredibly rich, his money is considered 'New Money' which is frowned upon by those who have 'Old Money', such as Tom. The West Egg and East Egg symbolises this divide, and this divide becomes literal with the water that separates their houses. Thus, though Gatsby is now just as wealthy as Tom and Daisy, he is not considered the same class as them. There are indications of this; for instance, Gatsby's car is yellow not gold, and Tom doubts Gatsby is an Oxford man because "He wears a pink suit." In the end, such class distinctions prevent Gatsby and Daisy's relationship from succeeding, just as they did in the past.
Furthermore, Tom's affair with Myrtle demonstrates another instance of the dispute between class and love. Myrtle does not share the same wealth as Tom, she lives in the Valley of Ashes and her husband runs a garage and is almost completely dependent on Tom as shown by his pleas for Tom to sell him his car. The relationship between Tom and Myrtle is clearly unequal. When she calls him at home she is dismissed, only Tom can reach out to her and suddenly drag her away from her home to their shared flat. In this flat, he has complete control over her and, indeed, asserts this control by hitting her. Additionally, Tom lies to Myrtle; he claims he cannot marry her because Daisy is Catholic and cannot get a divorce, Nick says this is not true. Myrtle's lower class allows Tom to treat her as he wishes. Fitzgerald presents a relationship that cannot be equal because of class differences.

Illustration of a video tutorial

Need help with English Literature?

One to one online tuition can be a great way to brush up on your English Literature knowledge.

Have a Free Meeting with one of our hand picked tutors from the UK’s top universities

Find a tutor

Related English Literature A Level answers

All answers ▸

To what extent are the three nineteenth century texts you've studied concerned with class and social stagnation?


'Ariel and Caliban are equally enslaved' Use your knowledge of the play as a whole, and show how far you agree with this view.


'Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts.' (With unseen passages to choose from, as seen on OCR English Literature A Level)


How do you demonstrate wider reading in your exam?


We're here to help

contact us iconContact usWhatsapp logoMessage us on Whatsapptelephone icon+44 (0) 203 773 6020
Facebook logoInstagram logoLinkedIn logo

© MyTutorWeb Ltd 2013–2022

Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy