Class differences in society are a major impact on the lifestyle of people. Even today we can see how it effects how a person experiences their life. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we can clearly see how Gatsby’s social status changes while in Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi we can see how class differences effect the opinions of the people in the class. The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen also demonstrates the philosophy and the dynamics of the differences between the rich and the poor.
In these three works, status is portrayed as a dominant force in shaping one’s educational and/or social experience. In The Great Gatsby we can see how one’s status effects a person’s educational and/or social experience. Gatsby was born into a poor family and so he wasn’t able to get a proper education. Instead he worked as a clam-digger and a salmon-fisher, unlike Tom and Nick who had the best education due to their higher status and abundance of money. Gatsby had a different social experiece from Nick who was raised as a wealthy young boy who knew of his status.
This acted as a confidence booster, one that assured him of his identity. Nick’s father once said to him “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (1). Gatsby, on the other hand, had a different social experience. Gatsby wasn’t spoiled and became mature at a younger age. However, when Gatsby moves to West Egg, his educational and social experiences now differ from his past due to him being a higher status.
Gatsby, now a wealthy man, is able to pursue an education with more confidence. He is also able to experience a new social standing. An example of him excercising his new wealth and position in society is his hosting of popular parties in which he is able to observe how higher class people interact. Despite this he is always uncomfortable with the rest of the higher class and is only a spectator of his parties. He never really fits in because although he is now a higher class, he grew up poor with different ideals.
Growing up in a different environment made Gatsby think that with money he can achieve anything – even his goal of attaining Daisy’s love. His naivety with money shows distinct class division between poor and rich. Interaction between men and women in Tehran make women dependent on men. Gender plays a role in determining staus in Tehran. No matter how poor a man is he is seen as having more status than most women. In the excerpt Reading Lolita in Tehran, we can see the different educational and social values between men and women.
Since men are raised thinking they have the superior status and their outlook on women are all similar. Unlike men, women are forced to be dependent on the male because of Tehran laws. This restricts women to do what men want to. Educationally both men and women were taught in this excerpt ,but how they perceived education was different. For a very religous man like Mr Nyazi, The Great Gastby as a book goes against eveything he believed in. Religon and his beliefs made him more narrow-minded and unable to look at the whole picture, making his argument biased.
Mr. Nyazi argued, “West is our great enemy, it is the Great Satan, not because of its military might, not because of its economic power, but because of its sinister assault” (126). For a woman in Tehran to be able to argue back to a man was a big deal. Zarrin had a less biased view than Mr. Nyazi arguing how he wasn’t reading critically enough. Zarrin said, “An inablility to read a novel on its own terms. All he knows is judgement, crude, and simplistic exaltation of right and wrong” (128).
In this particular society, gender is a status that is even more difficult to break through than wealth. Being born into a wealthy family meant that you have many advantages. In The Theory of the Leisure Class we can see how the standards of the wealthy are very different from the poor. Being born into a higher class also comes with social pressure to be like everyone else and be different from the poor. Thorstein speaks of some guidelines wealthy people follow to show off their wealth to say I’m not poor ,but rich.
At this tage of wealth consists chiefly of slaves benefits accruing from the possesions of the riches and personal service and the immediate products of personal service”(1). What the wealthy experience is very different from the poor. The wealthy has more freedom of choice, having more leisure time to do what they please, while the poor must work everyday to survive. Whether through status or gender ,these roles in society inevitably effect the experiences and oppurtunities that are offered. Gatsby being how he changed from the lower class to the higher class or even how Zarrin viewed The Great Gatsby versus Mr. Nyazi’s view.
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Topic: Comparison of the Great Gatsby, Leisure Class, and Teaching in Tehran
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