What does Old Money vs. New Money mean in the Great Gatsby?

In The Great Gatsby, the distinction between “old money” and “new money” is a crucial theme. People with “old money” have inherited their wealth and come from long-established families, while those with “new money” have made their fortunes themselves. These two groups are portrayed as very different from one another, with “old money” seen as superior and more refined.

The novel shows that the division between “old money” and “new money” can be a significant barrier. Gatsby, who has “new money,” cannot be with Daisy, who comes from a family of “old money.” Daisy ultimately chooses Tom Buchanan, who has the support of his wealthy family and belongs to a higher social class. Gatsby’s lack of social standing ultimately prevents him from being with Daisy, despite their love for each other.

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Fitzgerald uses the contrast between “old money” and “new money” to highlight the differences between the two worlds. People with “old money” are portrayed as conservative and attached to tradition, while those with “new money” are more focused on enjoying their wealth and are less concerned with social conventions. The novel suggests that “old money” is seen as more desirable, but that “new money” can also be a source of power and influence.

The theme of “old money” versus “new money” is central to the novel’s exploration of the American Dream. Gatsby embodies the idea that anyone can make their fortune in America, but his lack of social standing ultimately prevents him from achieving his dream of being with Daisy. The novel suggests that social class and wealth are deeply ingrained in American society, and that they can be difficult to overcome.

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