Analysis Of Jean-Jacques Rousseau In The Great Gatsby

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an English Philosopher whose work was influential especially in the eighteenth century. Some of his main works include the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, and the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Both of these works were written in response to prompts from the Academy of Dijon. For the first discourse, the prompt was, “Has the restoration of the sciences and arts tended to purify morals?” and for the second discourse the prompt was, "What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by the natural law?" (Delaney “Encyclopedia of Philosophy”). Fitzgerald uses Rousseau’s philosophy to contribute to the purpose of The Great Gatsby with his demonstration of good character versus good personality, …show more content…
Fitzgerald depicts the East, specifically East Egg, as the hereditary millionaires and the West, specifically West Egg, as the newly rich. The eastern lifestyle, which Tom is a part of and Gatsby longs to belong to, relates again to the good personality and the decrease in morality. On the other hand, Nick is a part of the western lifestyle along with Gatsby before he changed his life to become more like an easterner. “... Rousseau argues that [the sciences] create a false sense of need for luxury, so that science becomes simply a means for making our lives easier and more pleasurable, but not morally better.” (Delaney, “Encyclopedia of Philosophy”). The luxurious lifestyle seems to be home to the people who are associated with science and the arts such as Tom Buchanan and Gatsby. If the sciences create a need for luxury, perhaps Fitzgerald intentionally uses the geography along with science and the arts to create the inequality. Furthermore, in Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby, Nick points out that the story of the East and West had really just been of the West. “...Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, we”re all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.” The main characters were all from the West, but when they tried to adapt to the Eastern life, when they tried to incorporate …show more content…
Perhaps, Nick 's statement that all of the main characters originated from the West indicates this philosophy in the text. In that case, the West may be their “original state of nature”. In the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Rousseau forms a story that explains the origin of inequality. The story begins with man in his natural state where he has very few needs, little contact with humans, and he is happy. The principles that motivate this man are pity, self-preservation, and perfectibility. The perfectibility allows him to change and adapt to his environment. However these changes cause men to come in contact more often, and as they interact, the inequality begins to form. Men compare themselves to each other, and the poor and rich are distinguished based on property. This resulted in a state of war, and eventually the rich created laws that would protect their power and convinced the poor that it would provide the freedom and safety. These social classes are also demonstrated in The Great Gatsby. For example, Tom and Daisy Buchanan are part of the upper class because they live a rich, luxurious life in East Egg. Nick could be placed in the middle class because he is neither rich nor poor and perhaps because he lived in East Egg at one point. George Wilson is an example of the lower class because of his location, the valley of the ashes, and his job, working at a downtrodden car repair shop. Moreover, Nick

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