As Henry Fielding once said, "Money is the fruit of evil, as often as the root of it." (Henry Fielding). This is entirely true in the novel The Great Gatsby, where money is the leading factor in all that happens during the course of the story. The novel, The Great Gatsby, a very profound work of literature, extends on many levels and through various themes in order to provide readers with the central idea that wealth corrupts.
Daisy Buchanan is the first character in the novel that has evidently been corrupted by wealth. Daisy, born and raised into an enormously wealthy family, never had to work for anything in life; anything she wanted was immediately given to her. Later in life she married Tom Buchanan --also extravagantly wealthy -- who "gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars" (76). This life of wealth inevitably led to a life of boredom for Daisy. Her life was so boring, in fact, that she audibly wonders "What\'ll [she] do with [herself] this afternoon? and the day after that, and [for] the next thirty years" (118). The feelings and the lives of others hold no influence over Daisy. Even her own daughter, Pammy, holds no meaning for her. She views her daughter as a mere toy, an object to show off to help boost her own image. When she hit and killed Myrtle Wilson, and when Gatsby died, she did show any emotion towards either of their deaths. Daisy, best illustrated as a careless person, "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into [her] money [and her] vast carelessness" and "let other people clean up the mess [she] had made" (145). Daisy only cared about protecting herself, as people in her position are wont to do.
Tom Buchanan, Daisy\'s husband, has also been corrupted by the wealth maintained in his family. He is never content with what he has, and as a result of this he has numerous affairs; of course he gives no thought as to how Daisy might feel about this. During the timeline of the novel, he has an affair with Myrtle Wilson, but he does not actually care about her either. This is evident when "Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand" (37). When Gatsby declares his love for Daisy, Tom breaks out into pure hypocrisy; bashing Gatsby for having an affair with his wife, stating that "[He supposed] that the latest thing was to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to [his] wife" (130). He then emphasizes that Gatsby is a nobody by revealing that Gatsby was a bootlegger and an inheritor of "new money". He also stated that he loved Daisy and although "Once in a while [he] may go off on a spree and make a fool of [himself], [he] always [comes] back, and in [his] heart [he loves] her all the time" (131). All throughout the novel it is shown that Tom has the same problem with empathy that Daisy does, the problem of careless people. Tom\'s total apathy towards other people is a perfect reflection of the careless lifestyle that he leads.
Even all of the major secondary characters have fallen under the influence of money. The famous golfer, Jordan Baker -- accused of moving her golf ball to a better position in the semi-finals of a golf tournament-- "wasn\'t able to endure being at a disadvantage and, given this unwillingness, [Nick supposed] she had begun dealing in subterfuges? in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world" (58). She lies to protect her image knowing that if she gets caught she can use her money to protect herself. Gatsby\'s friend and fellow bootlegger, Meyer Wolfsheim, "[played] with the faith of fifty million people" (73), fixing the 1918 World Series just to earn some quick cash.
All of this goes to show that, although people may think that they have instinctive values and virtues, money can easily corrupt anyone. The miserable characters in The Great Gatsby were all victim to the tantalizing grasp that money -- and the power and carelessness that comes along with it?had on them.