The court will now convene the case of Thorstein Veblen v. Jay Gatsby. The plaintiff accuses Mr. Gatsby of conspicuous consumption. Mr. Veblen purports that during his pursuit of one Mrs. Daisy Buchanan, the defendant diverted his disposable surplus “to the purpose of a conspicuous decency, rather than to added physical comfort and fullness of life.”  As defense attorney for Mr. Gatsby, I will prove that my client’s so-called conspicuous consumption did not result from arrogant or elitist tendencies, but was instead carried out for the purpose of love.
The prosecution highlights Mr. Gatsby’s status as a nouveaux arrivé, or new arrival to the elite class. According to Mr. Veblen “barring accidents, the nouveaux arrivés are a picked body.”  As evidence the prosecution brings forth Mr. Gatsby’s “education” under the precious metal tycoon, Dan Cody and the gambler Meyer Wolfsheim. Mr. Veblen also claims that Mr. Gatsby was “unscrupulous [in his] conversion of goods and persons to his own ends, and in callous disregard of the feelings and wishes of others and of the remoter effects of his actions.”  In support of this the prosecution has cited two specific instances of extravagance and conspicuous consumption: Daisy’s visit to his home and Gatsby’s parties.
Mr. Veblen called to attention my client’s purchase of a mansion across the water from the Buchanan residence as part of a scheme to woo Mrs. Buchanan. He cites the instance when my client invited Mrs. Buchanan to his residence to showcase his vast home and belongings. The prosecution specifically alluded to my client’s vast collection of clothes, which were selected and shipped to him by an English merchant. Yes, it is true that my client posses a substantial collection of clothes, but I argue that his only reason for this was to assume the appearance of elite society. As a young officer, Mr. Gatsby met Mrs. Daisy, a rich and popular girl from Louisville, KY with a voice that “was full of money…High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl.”  As the son of poor farmer, Mr. Gatsby could not pursue the woman he loved without bettering himself socially. Though his sharp military uniform afforded him the chance to get to know her, his complete absence of wealth led him to lose Daisy.
Regarding his parties, Mr. Veblen accuses my client of exploiting his wealth and others by using these occasions to increase his social standing. My client does not deny that he kept his home “always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.”  However, the claim that my client was the exploiter at these parties is a blatant distortion of the facts. Mr. Gatsby held his parties with the sole hope that Mrs. Buchanan would happen to wander into one. Rather than the exploiter, I believe it is clear that my client was the exploited. Not only was my client seen as someone who could pay for a good party, but his personal reputation was put into question “by the hundreds who had accepted his hospitality and so [became] authorities on his past.”  Following his tragic murder nobody came to his funeral, having received what they wanted from him in drink and music. Even his “love”, Daisy, failed to show any compassion. Her like always “[smash] up things and creatures and then [retreat] back into their money or vast carelessness.” 
In closing, my client was a man with aspirations of success. Is that a crime? But Mr. Gatsby’s primary motivation was love, not an elite social status. For him, wealth was a means to an end and he often rejected its allures in favor of the pursuit of love. When he saw no more use in parties, they ended. When his personal privacy was endangered, he got rid of his servants. These are not the actions of a man who is preoccupied with his own wealth and social status; they are attempts by a troubled man to possess the love that had eluded him for years. Maybe he was “picked” by Mr. Cody or Mr. Wolfsheim, but it was not Mr. Gatsby’s fault that his charm and intelligence attracted such men. Using Mr. Veblen’s own words, my client was only a victim of the elite’s “prescriptive canon of conduct for the rest of society.”  In order to fulfill the basic human emotion of love, he was forced to follow a creed that eventually killed him.
 Thorstein Veblen, “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: A Sourcebook; Volume II: 1865 to Present, eds. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 135.
 Ibid, 138.
 Ibid, 138.
 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York, NY: Scribner, 2004), 120.
 Ibid, 90.
 Ibid, 97.
 Ibid, 179.
 Veblen, 133.