The Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper
Gold-hatted Gatsby *********************** Only a handful of novels can parallel that of F. Scott Fitzgerald s The Great Gatsby. Released in 1925, the novel cleverly demonstrates the manners and morals commonly practiced throughout the time period. The plot revolves around several main themes and effectively expresses Fitzgerald s unique perspective. With an objective standpoint, Nick Carraway narrates the story as Jay Gatsby, a foolish racketeer, tries to win over his lifelong love, Daisy Buchanan. Although pecuniary matters can often be too large of an influence on human relationships, the novel unveils several powerful battles entangling love, morals, and money. As Nick Carraway follows the tale of Jay Gatsby pursuing a dream, Gatsby can be observed as a foolish man while working so hard, and yet accomplishing nothing. One of the numerous reasons why Jay Gatsby can be seen as foolhardy when simply pursuing a dream is not because he is, but rather because of the method in which he does. Stretching back to the roots of his life, Gatsby was not a wealthy person in upbringing. Following a rigorous daily schedule and constant attempts at bettering his moral values are two of his hopeful methods to win over Daisy Buchanan. Improvements such as, “No more smokeing or chewing, Bath every other day, Be better to parents,” (182) were yet a few of his guidelines to strive for constant self improvement. Although realizing that Daisy can not be so easily won over, Gatsby continues to toil in attempt to win his sole love. Not only did he concentrate on actual values in life for the future, Gatsby resolves to himself that he must change his past. Because of his dissatisfaction with his original name, James Gats, he alters his name to the more attractive Jay Gatsby. Changing his name is more than simply doing so, by doing this he is actually creating a new identity for himself and his past. Transforming his name and developing new life values are only parts of the lifecycle in which Jay Gatsby participates in order to follow his dreams. Although not always successful in creating new individualities, Gatsby s attempts are fully genuine. In obvious compliance with other major characters in the novel, Gatsby struggles to fit into social groups in to which Daisy Buchanan belongs. Daisy and her husband, Tom Buchanan, often attend parties hosted by Gatsby. Although these parties may be essentially hosted by him, Gatsby does not wholeheartedly attend. As he shrinks away to other areas of his home, Gatsby is able to avoid socializing with his guests. The quote, ” I made an attempt to find my host but the two or three people of whom I asked his whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements ” (46) demonstrates how many of the party-goers have become used to Gatsby s nonattendance. Therefore, the primary motive of his characteristic social gatherings is revealed -to attract the attention and win the heart of Daisy Buchanan. Although Gatsby believes his parties may be bringing him somewhat closer to his love, they further extend the gap between him and other social groups. At many parties, guests often speak of him and his fictitious past with little concern of his reputation. For example, one guest at a party speaks of, ” he was a German spy during the war.” (48) and another speaks of him saying, “I ll bet he killed a man.” (48), while others around only listen and agree. Although the guests may actually be convinced that these statements are true, they are only showing their carelessness towards others. Gatsby s attempt to fit in can also be compared to that of Myrtle s, Tom Buchanan s mistress. Myrtle s position is simply a weaker reflection of Gatsby s more significant struggle. While Myrtle s desire springs from social aspirations, Gatsby s is related more to his idealistic dreams. Like Myrtle, Gatsby struggles to fit himself into another social group, but his attempt is more urgent because his whole faith in life is dependant upon it. Failure, therefore, is more terrible for him. His whole career, his self-confidence, and in life is totally shattered when he fails to win Daisy. His death, when it comes, is almost insignificant, for with the destruction of his dreams, Gatsby is already spiritually dead. Thus, the reader can follow Gatsby as his actions mimic that of others on a smaller scale, and he tries to fit into different social groups. Although fitting in appears to be his goal, his primary objective in life remains unchangeable -to attain the heart of Daisy. However far out of reach this goal may seem, Gatsby constantly strives towards it, unconcerned with the possible consequences. Therefore, Gatsby can be seen foolishly working hard for an obviously unattainable purpose. Still portraying Jay Gatsby as a foolish character is the existence of his assiduous belief in the American dream. However, like many other points in the novel, the dream reveals its weak spots and crumbles before his eyes. As the American dream has proven to be guilty of discrimination within the social classes, one can relate this idea to the twenties attitude towards justice. As the government actively chooses to ignore certain classes of people for their actions, it also chooses to scrutinize different groups. For instance, the quote, “We slowed down. Taking a white card from his wallet he waved it before the man s eyes. Right you are, agreed the policeman, tipping his cap,” (72) illustrates how the police ignored Gatsby, even while opposing the law. However, governmental jurisdiction plays only a small role compared to that of social discrimination. Although ideally the American government is nondiscriminatory, social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot be overcome. Myrtle s attempt to break into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed to fail. Taking advantage of her exaggerated animation, she seeks to escape from her own class. Her chief goal is then exposed – attainment of the American dream. Despite the ease in which Myrtle is able to coexist in dual social classes, Gatsby s attempts are cursed at birth. Gatsby attempts to win Daisy by way of acting upon her materialistic values, which is the reason he struggled to accrue so many material things. Daisy, like many of the wealthy class personalities in the novel, conveys materialism to the extreme. The dialogue, ” They re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before. ” (98) simply further illustrates the materialistic values of Daisy. Because Gatsby knows that Daisy has dissolved her values into materialistic carelessness, this is the fashion in which he ventures to capture her heart. However, in the climax of the novel, Daisy chooses to stay with Tom because of love, marriage, and more stable values in life. Therefore, Gatsby s personal version of the American dream has collapsed, not solely because it was the American dream, but rather because of the crumbling pillars upon which it was founded. Viewing the novel in completion, the character and life portrayed by Jay Gatsby was foolishly lived and adventurously dreamed. Discovering that although they may not always be correct, some morals are too powerful to conquer. From Gatsby s personal aspirations to social burning bridges and finally to Daisy s money-drowned spirit, Gatsby s irrational ideas have been snuffed out. While some may awe at shirts of silver and gold, others despise an alleged German spy. However impressed or disgusted some may be, because of his authentic attempts to change his society, he will always remain the Gold-hatted Gatsby. Fitzgerald did manage to accomplish a feeling of doubtfulness towards the American dream and deep-rooted beliefs. Not only did The Great Gatsby capture the concept of failure when attempting to conquer sour morality, the novel vividly depicted a life foolishly lived, only for a lost goal so long sought.