History Repeated

Gatsby's Society vs. Modern Society

ig·no·rant (adjective): Lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.

ne·glect·ful (adjective): characterized by neglect; disregardful; careless; negligent (often followed by of ): neglectful of one's health.

care·less (adjective): not caring or troubling; having no care or concern; unconcerned (usually followed by of, about, or in ): careless of the rights of others; careless about one's behavior; careless in speech.

ma·te·ri·al·is·tic (adjective): excessively concerned with physical comforts or the acquisition of material things rather than spiritual, intellectual, moral, or cultural values.



The words defined above are all adjectives that can be used to describe Gatsby’s society as well as modern society. We all live in this society, but is living in it all that we do? Does one contribute to this society in a positive way on a daily basis? Unfortunately no, and that's the cause of such a catastrophic problem. Although you may like to think that our society has a higher potential to succeed, the social themes in Gatsby's society of the 1920s era are frighteningly relevant to our modern society. Our society is an incredibly materialistic society, just as the 1920s Gatsby society that Fitzgerald wrote about was. The idea of materialism and carelessness are both very powerful elements in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work. These two things are important because they lead to the eventual downfall of Gatsby's society and because they are relevant in our society they will without a doubt contribute to the downfall of modern society.

Materialism & Carelessness

“The things you own end up owning you." -Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Americans have this "need" to want something. Whether it's the latest fashion trends, the newest cars, or the most recent technology, americans have this strange obsession with the idea that they need to have these things. We have this idea in our head that if we don't have these things we won't be the best version of ourselves. When in reality, these things are the cause of individual as well as societal decay.


In The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald Daisy chooses to stay with Tom because of the materialistic things he has to offer her. She stays with him because she knows that being his wife will allow her to lead a safe, secure & lavish life. In the book Gatsby writes about the couple, "impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire". This quote shows how their relationship is a very convenient one but not a loving one. Another example of this loveless relationship is Toms absence at the birth of his daughter because he is away with his mistress.


Daisy chooses to be with Tom over Gatsby because of his monetary value not because she loves him more. You see these same kinds of relationships in modern society. According to an ABC news article written by Susan Donaldson James "Heart-stopping, knee-weakening, "when-is-he-going-to-call" kind of love wanes in about 18 to 24 months, but the kind that comes in dollars and cents lasts a lifetime". The article goes on to state, "Families were interested in the connections to in-laws to improve their financial interests" and "as the middle class emerged and men could support themselves rather than depend upon an inheritance, they became "the most exuberantly romantic, Women who were totally dependent and legally subordinate said things in their diaries like, "Caution: My heart inclines to Harry, but I can't take that risk."" Research is showing that women in modern society are more likely to marry a man who can provide well for her rather than their true love.

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Finger Pointing

Modern entertainment suggests an attitude of carelessness. Take a popular song by two-time Grammy award winning rapper Kid Cudi for example, a line from the chorus, "the sky might fall, the sky might fall but I'm not worried at all". People of today's society have a very carefree, non-worrisome, "blame it on the other guy" attitude. The attitudes of today's society are similar to that of Jordan Baker's in The Great Gatsby. An example of Jordan's attitude would be her view on driving. She confesses "They'll keep out of my way," she insisted. "It takes two to make an accident." This quote is important because it demonstrates Jordan's disregard for others safety and shows how she depends on other people to avoid an accident with her. Too many of these careless people in a single society will ultimately cause the complete decay of our society just as the large amount of careless people in The Great Gatsby did.