Since the beginning of time, humans tend to develop the common misconception of those who possess wealth and fame posse’s happiness. The average numbers of wealthy people interviewed every year report back describing them as being miserable and never truly happy despite their wealth. This misconception that any common man would believe is due to the fact that one can never know true wealth unless he has it .
When people come upon wealth and start climbing the social ladder, they tend to lose their moral ethics and become more corrupt by changing their life style in becoming less humane. Since the discovery of wealth and social power, society has been separated into two classes, the ruler and the ruled, the rich and the poor. One can find examples of social caste systems in any time line. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and F. Scot Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby contradicts the relation of wealth and happiness in their books because they both show that in order to be truly happy, one must reject superficial things, such as one’s position in the caste system of society, and pursue one’s true desires. When an individual is so concerned with social standing that he abandons the things that he loves, he will only find unhappiness.
In the Great Expectations, Charles Dickens portrays the absence of happiness that comes with higher social position through his character Pip. Pip falls in love with Estella during his childhood and strongly believes that if he were to become gentlemen and earn the title of nobility, Estella will reciprocate his love. Pip then decides to dedicate his life to becoming a gentleman.
After Pip hatches his plan to move to London once he was given a large amount of fortune to learn how to be a gentlemen, he begins to develop a hatred towards his past “common” life, a thing that he once loved: “Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bed-room, I was truly retched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe’s trade. I had liked it once, but once was not now” (Dickens 82). Pip truly believes that his happiness will come from him becoming a gentlemen. In order for him to become one, he must fit the standards of the upper class.
Pip learns to hate all lower class occupations, such as blacksmithery, and abandon his once beloved home. After achieving his goal in obtaining the title of a gentleman, Pip decides to meet Estella but to only get rejected no matter what title or how much wealth he possessed. Pip then goes through many difficulties and in the end loses all his fortunes and ends up with a large amount of debt. When Pip returns home, he realizes that he had missed so much love from his family, especially from Joe who had even paid off all of his debts once he arrived “He would sit and talk to me in the old confidence, and with the old simplicity, and in the old unassertive protecting way, so that I would half believe that all my life since the days of the old kitchen was one if the mental troubles of the fever that was gone” (Dickens 366). Once Pip rejected social standards and started to pursue what makes him actually happy, he was able to find true happiness and finally obtain Estella’s love. Fitzgerald shows Carraway’s misperception when we writes, “Everybody I knew was in the bond business, so I supposed it could support one more single man” (Fitzgerald 3). Carraway was never truly passionate about the ‘bond business’ but somewhat thinks its juts an opportunity that his family approved of and was relatively pleasing to him.
He wishes to adventure the East Coast in becoming a glamorous New Yorker as oppose to a boring Middle-Western man and become his own person while rising in social class. Over the summer, Carraway lived in a decent sized home between two huge mansions. While in New York, Nick befriends Jay Gatsby and many other wealthy and famous characters which allowed him to enjoy the many luxuries of the upper class life. He met Jordan Bakers who was a famous athlete and took her on a date. Nick initially enjoys being with her “I was flattered to go places with her, because she was a golf champion, and everyone knew her name” (Fitzgerald 57). Carraway enjoys spending time with her because of the superficial aspects she provides: her beauty, her fame, and her potions in society. But Nick soon realizes as he spends more time with her that she is very dishonest. Fitzgerald shows her unhappiness when he writes “I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard, jaunty body” (Fitzgerald 58).
Baker had to learn to be fake with others and ignore all her passionate inner desires. Carraway notices this similarity in many other members of the wealthy and famous characters in the novel. Carraway realizes that often the wealthy and upper class members of society are either unhappy, or learn to ignore they true desires and change their perspectives to create an unlawful happiness.
After the death of Jay Gastby, Nick finally realized the twisted mentality of the upper class society and when he was given the choice to continue his career in the bond business as a New Yorker or return back home, he chose to return to the Middle-Western United States. Nick realizes that the upper class society is filled with unlawful, fake, unhappy and superficial people. He decides to abandon the glamorous life to pursue what truly make him happy.
When a person is so concerne with his social status and place in society, they begin to abandon the things they love and in the end only find themselves unhappy.