Conspicuous Consumption in Literature Analytical Essay by Shaad

Conspicuous Consumption in Literature
Provides commentary of the phenomenon with illustrations from literature.
# 147063 | 937 words | 4 sources | APA | 2010 | BD
Published by on Feb 13, 2011 in Sociology (General) , English (General) , Literature (General)

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This essay explains the term "conspicuous consumption" and comments on its implications for society. It goes on to comment on three texts from the early twentieth century that make conspicuous consumption their central theme. The three texts are Edith Wharton's "The House Of Mirth", F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and Sinclair Lewis' "Babbitt". In each case, the writer outlines the nature of the critique presented by the authors and relates it to the claims of the essay.

From the Paper:

"Conspicuous consumption describes a social practice in which consumption is made visible in order to flaunt one's spending power, and thereby to claim high social standing. The term was coined by Thorstein Veblen in the turn of the 20th century to describe what he saw as a definitive social phenomenon of American society. Properly examined conspicuous consumption is the mere expression of vanity in the context of an increasingly materialistic order of society. It is a truism that vanity is corrosive to the spirit. There is no satisfaction at the end of trying to impress others of one's spending power, because vanity can stretch forever. Conspicuous consumption has become the norm in modern capitalist society, and is singularly responsible for the erosion of spiritual values. The consequence is the failure to recognize the true value of things, and being swayed by appearances alone. Here we discuss the phenomenon with reference to portrayals in literature.
"After Veblen coined the term in the turn of the 20th century, many have tried to identify conspicuous consumption as a typically American phenomenon, and as characteristic of modern capitalism."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Lewis, S. (1932) Babbitt. New York: Plain Label Books.
  • Pressman, S. (2006) Fifty Major Economists, New York, Taylor & Francis.
  • Wharton, E. (2002) The House of Mirth. Chelmsford, MA: Courier Dover Publications.
  • Fitzgerald, F. S. (2008) The Great Gatsby, New York, NuVision Publications.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Conspicuous Consumption in Literature (2011, February 13) Retrieved March 25, 2023, from

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"Conspicuous Consumption in Literature" 13 February 2011. Web. 25 March. 2023. <>