Since time immemorial, it has been a common notion that wealth defines a person’s status in the society. It is usually associated with the amount of material things that a person owns that wealth is determined. This essay would try to evaluate the advantage of wealth in the light of the novels ’ Hedda Gabler’ by Henrik Ibsen and ‘The Great Gatsby’ by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.
A discussion of the basic concept of wealth in each novel will first be identified. A deliberation on the advantage of wealth in each novel will be highlighted. Lastly, the essay will compare the ideas in the two novels to establish the significance of wealth.
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The Great Gatsby, narrated through the eyes of Nick Carraway, denotes his enthusiasm to the life of his neighbor Jay Gatsby. The novel is a love story on the surface with the concept of betrayal and true love emanating from each chapter. Nevertheless, the novel connotes on the absurdity of life, wealth and social status during the 19th century. As can be reiterated, the novel tries to undermine the fact that ‘money is tantamount to power and authority in the society’.
Basically, the novel is about the pursuit of Daisy’s love by Jay Gatsby and the means that Gatsby had used to attain his goals. It is noted that Jay and Daisy had been in love prior to her marriage to Tom. Jay had to leave because of war but they promised each other that they will someday marry and live together.
Nonetheless, when Jay came back, he discovered that Daisy had married a rich and wealthy man, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby’s dream is to be with Daisy forever and to win back Daisy’s love. Since Daisy is a woman of aristocratic heritage, it is a prerequisite for him to be rich and famous to be able to succeed her love. Thus, Jay Gatsby has been blinded by money. His dream has been based on the acquisition of money, fortune and fame due to the belief that material wealth can bring back everything.
To further emphasize this viewpoint, it can be helpful to understand some quotes from the novel itself. In a statement when Gatsby imagined that Daisy will divorce Tom, he uttered ‘I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before (Fitzgerald, p. 111)’.
This statement holds his faith to his wealth; it shows that despite everything, he believed that money can still fix everything. When Nick advises him that ‘you can’t repeat the past’, Gatsby replied ‘Why, of course, you can (Fitzgerald p. 111)’. The conversation further reveals Gatsby’s confidence in the power of wealth and determination towards what he wants.
One of the most exquisite remarks that Jay Gatsby had uttered is that ‘Her voice is full of money (Fitzgerald p. 144)’, in reference to Daisy. Gatsby is aware of the fact that his love for Daisy is based on attraction towards wealth. In this regard, Gatsby believed that money can substitute love since Tom had substitute Jay’s place in Daisy’s heart. Like money, love is something that needs to be acquired which determines the purpose of being for Jay. Everything that Jay spends is a way towards fulfilling his dream.
Daisy on the other hand displays the significance of wealth when she married Tom Buchanan despite the fact that she is not in love with him. The novel hinted the interest that Daisy still have for Jay after all the years when she inquired ‘What Gatsby?’ and when she drunk her self before her bridal dinner crying and holding a letter (possibly from Gatsby) in another hand saying ‘Tell ‘em all Daisy’s change her mind (Fitzgerald, p. 51)’.
Wealth is seen as a way to relieve the pain of being left alone. By marrying a wealthy man, Daisy can more easily mend her broken heart. She had been able to ‘moved with a fast crowd (Fitzgerald, p.52)’ and able to maintain her reputation. Money is portrayed as a way out of loneliness. Wealth is displayed as a road towards happiness and fulfillment.
Hedda Gabler is actually a play written by Ibsen showing how much societal pressure and norms confine a person into a specific stereotype. The story revolves around Hedda, who is newly married to George Tesman, an aspiring professor. Hedda is described as the daughter of an aristocratic General Gabler.
It is apparent from the course of the dialogue between Hedda and the other characters that she does not love her husband. It also seems as if she only married him because he can at least provide her with her needs although it may not be enough. Hedda, all throughout the story manipulated other characters into doing her will. George, Aunt Julie and the other characters wants to please her and they do their best to reach her upper-class taste.
Hedda has everything she need. Nonetheless, since she has to marry to maintain her social status, she chose to marry George Tesman. Tesman is a very bookish person. He even researched from libraries despite being on honeymoon. He relay his amazement of the museums and libraries to Aunt Julie, stating ‘Notes, documents- people didn’t know existed (Ibsen, p.13)’. Tesman is willing to do everything for Hedda yet she cannot be satisfied.
The advantage of wealth lies on the respect and the treatment that Hedda receives from other people despite her unusually rude and manipulative character. Despite the fact that Aunt Julie was hurt when Hedda mistaken her new hat to be old and to belong to the maid, she still treat Hedda nicely. Aunt Julie stated ‘she’s lovely all her life (Ibsen, p.19)’.
Thea also remark about Hedda’s difference with her status in the line ‘we’ve not been close… you were always, in a different world from me, socially (Ibsen, p. 26)’. This shows that even though both are women of the same era, Thea still recognizes the fact that Hedda is different ‘socially’. Being a daughter of a respected and powerful general gives her enough freedom and authority, bestowed by the society, to be regarded more powerful than the other women.
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