The IUP Journal of English Studies
Capitalism and the Fall of the American Dream: A Marxist Reading of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams

Article Details
Pub. Date : March, 2022
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES130322
Author Name :Tamador Khalaf Abu-Snoubar, Nazzem Attiyat and Issam Aldawkat
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 12



The paper describes Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams from a Marxist perspective. It talks about Marxism from a twofold perspective. First, Fitzgerald creates elaborate geographical and structural maps that delineate where the bourgeoisie and proletariat begin and end. For instance, the communities of West and East Egg would qualify as the proverbial American dreamland, a place of wealth and higher aspirations, while the Valley of Ashes symbolizes proletariat poverty and exploitation. Second, Fitzgerald shows that the protagonists of these stories experience eventual ruin, partly because of their consumerist and materialist orientations and ambitions. In other words, it is precisely this need to acquire material wealth that drives characters to ruination, leading to Gatsby's death and Dexter's unhappiness, as he realizes that wealth cannot offer spiritual satisfaction. The Marxist reading will consider both features as fundamental to Fitzgerald's broader goals to situate capitalism within a rapidly-declining, opulent America. While Fitzgerald may not have been an out-and-out Marxist, and indeed, such assertions remain controversial to make, there was certainly something in capitalism that he saw as failing.

The paper explores The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams from a Marxist perspective, arguing that key symbology, including the positioning of the wealthy East and West Egg against the poor and decrepit Valley of Ashes, as well as Dexter's dreams to join the elite class of Sherry Island, are representations of the bourgeoisie-proletariat dynamic inimical to Marx. While Fitzgerald wrote these two different stories, they mostly exhibit the same theme of communities and individuals embedded within certain contexts that present