The very essence of money creates an urge of human nature to obtain it, and have an excess of it. Fame and money go hand in hand; if you have one, you have the other. One also must understand that money equals power; people aspire to money. When people come into wealth and begin rising to the top of the social ladder, history dictates they usually become corrupted, and sometimes compromise their personal values. Do they believe this is for the common good, or merely for personal benefit?
In the novels Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, the protagonists, Pip and Jay Gatsby respectively, believe their prospers are used for the common good, but in reality many values are being compromised. The clich, “Money cannot buy happiness” exemplifies the opposite of what Pip and Gatsby believe, in that both utilize their money in what they believe to be a valiant attempt to bring the women they love into their lives. Along the way to achieving this “goal”, they violated ethics, which in turn changed them as people.
Although money serves as a driving force for individuals, it does not counter the negative effects that are induced during the process. Therefore, money is the root of all evil. Despite the two novels possessing slight differences, they coincide in many aspects. When Pip acquires the money from the unknown benefactor, he moves away under Jaggers guidance and barely ever returns to his hometown. In the beginning, his reasons for coming back were to visit Joe, Biddy, and Miss Havisham, but eventually he changes and seeing the people previously so important to him appears to become a chore.
This is ironic because not even a year ago he looked up to Joe, and regarded him as a father, now he refuses to see him on account of Joe being a common blacksmith. This is one of the first changes that we see in Pip after his knowledge that he will have “great expectations” and become educated. Pip’s entire reason for becoming a gentleman is to attract Estella, and make her return the feelings of love that he holds for her. Ultimately, it appears that Pip is willing to cast away his old life and friends, to become a gentleman and, in essence, obtain Estella.
This perfectly illustrates an immense change in Pip when he compromises his beliefs to accumulate money, stature, and inevitably, Estella. Jay Gatsby also utilizes money as a stepping stone to get what he wants. Back when he was serving in the army, he realized that he could never marry Daisy until he gained financial and social stability. His feelings for Daisy are so strong that he practices many illegal acts he learns via Meyer Wolfsheim who even, “fixed the 1919 World Series”.
Dan Cody and Wolfsheim showed Gatsby how to make a fortune by way of illegal business, and it appears they lead him to believe it was acceptable to carry out these deeds as long as a goal was being reached. This is yet another example of an individual being introduced to money, and fame; then compromising morals and values. In both of the novels, Pip and Gatsby receive, or earn their great quantities of money and do not realize at first the money is tainted. Pip’s benefactor was none other than Abel Magwitch, a known felon who he encountered at a church graveyard and threatened him for food and a file.
In appreciation of Pip’s deed in fetching the items for him, Magwitch nobly decides to endow Pip with a large sum of money. The money was gained through evil deeds though. Since Compeyson and Magwitch acquired the money through fraud, and conning people out of their hard-earned money, it rendered the money evil, or tainted. Even though Pip’s relationship with Magwitch progresses and he virtually becomes a father to Pip, the money remains blemished due to the way it was obtained.
In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby abandons the army a poor man, but has visions of making money, climbing the social ladder, and getting Daisy back in his life. Gatsby thinks he is succeeding when he meets Dan Cody and Wolfsheim, yet is actually tarnishing his image by entering the world of illegal trades and bootlegging. Furthermore, he jeopardizes his inner character by regarding Dan Cody as a role model, and aspiring to be him. Dan Cody lived on a boat, and drank himself into an alcoholic haze nearly every night- is this a role model one should desire?
Overall, Pip and Gatsby accomplished their paralleled tasks of not being common to grasp the women they longed for; they did it in an immoral and unfavorable manner. When people rise to fame in today’s society, they usually retain great amounts of wealth and public recognition. Tupac Shakur can be found to have a direct correlation with Gatsby. Both were brought up poor and did not have much to show for themselves. Because of this, they used their mediocrity as a means of motivation to rise to the top of the world and create a distinct advantage over others.
Tupac asserted himself through gangs to get somewhere in life; much like Gatsby did with Dan Cody and the illegalities he stood for. Throughout his life, he embodied these gangs for stability and manipulated them to get to the top. He eventually reached his destination and acted in various movies, and produced various rap albums, which in turn erected a momentous image. He was not seen as the poor boy from Las Vegas anymore, but rather the man who made it through the tough life. Eventually, the life he lived within gangs delivered his death in a drive by shooting.
He created enemies while conspiring with the gangs, and although this brought him money and eventually fame, it killed him, much like Gatsby. Dennis Rodman is another celebrity that as a child wished to become more than customary to the public. Pip and Rodman are found to have some parallels between them. Rodman’s home life was filled with abuse and lack of funds, comparable to Pip’s home. This forced him to get many jobs and become independent in order to progress in life with any hope of being something.
Through all the dead-end jobs he worked, nothing seemed to be working out for him until around his twentieth birthday. Some powerful growth hormones kicked in and left him standing a whopping six feet, eleven inches. When this happened, Dennis was offered basketball scholarships from all over the country. Today, we see his persistent acts to be different via tattoos, hair dyes, and many antics. The point is that Dennis Rodman strived to be uncommon just like Pip. The only difference is, they achieved their goals in vastly different ways and the results were extremely different.
In both cases, money appeared to be a catalyst in order to achieve public stature. Pip and Gatsby utilized money and prestige as a means of obtaining the women they desired. Everybody wishes to be rich and famous at one point in life, but few actually achieve it. History imparts us with evidence that money cannot buy happiness, but rather can corrupt peoples morals, and ethics. In conclusion, happiness that lies within is far greater than any superficial, temporary happiness that money can purchase.