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Social Class in American Literature

This research paper examines the view of social class in America as it appears in three novels: Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible ManSocial Class in American LiteratureThe research paper on social class in American Literature will attempt to show that all three writers show an intense awareness of the phenomena of social class and are astute in their observations of the effect that the existence of social stratification has upon people.  Two of them show a relatively high degree of discomfort with the way social hierarchy has evolved in America. 

In Mark Twain differences in social class are things to be observed and commented upon as facts of life; he would not take seriously the traditional American claim that we are a “classless society”; he does not, however, express a great sense of discomfort with the status quo.  Ralph Ellison and F. Scott Fitzgerald are quite different.  They are angry men. Scott Fitzgerald is angry with the smug security of the upper classes, their ability to float free, clear, and superior over and above the longings and miseries of the lower orders.   Ellison’s anger is with the way in which the existence of social class warps human nature in such a way as to corrupt human relationships.  We shall deal with each of these writers in turn.

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