Jungian View On The Great Gatsby Essay

, Research Paper

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald?s classic story about the shallow aristocracy of the 1920?s American society, is the topic of much interpretation. This paper is a simple proposition that the ?Roaring Twenties? were years dominated by an SP (part of Carl Jung?s archetypal psychology that will later be explained in more depth) society and the characters in The Great Gatsby reflect and were deeply affected by this fact. Daisy will be analyzed herein, as well as the effect that an SP society had on her actions and development.

The human psyche has been the basis of study for millennia. Dating back to Hippocrates around 370 BC, the earliest belief was that people are fundamentally predisposed at birth?their psyches are ?programmed?. The idea continued to manifest in mainstream sciences up until about the 19th century AD. There arose, in the early 20th century, the notion that people are born without predisposition, and are molded by their environment from the time of infancy. John Watson, and early American behaviorist, proposed that he could shape a child into any form he wanted, provided that he had control of the child from infancy. Similarly to the notion of psychological malleability was the belief that people are driven by a single basic motive. Sigmund Freud claimed that we are all driven from within by instinctual lust. There were also the existentialist psychologists, such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who had people seeking self-actualization. Finally, in 1920, Swiss physician Carl Jung disagreed. In Psychological Types he wrote that ?people have a multitude of instincts, what he called ?archetypes?, that drive them from within, and that one instinct is no more important than another, what is important is ones natural inclination to one or the other.? 1 He proposed that there are four basic types of people (each with four sub-divisions): the SJ (Guardians), SP (Artisan), NT (Rational), and NF (Idealist).

What is ?SP?? In Jungian terms it is basically the group of sensory people who are free with their time, S and P being two of four letters that fully make up a persons temperament. According to Jung, when the two characteristics are combined, the affected person is naturally playful and careless. They live in the moment and have no time for rules and regulations. They are the majority of the worlds entertainers, athletes, soldiers, etc. Where there is excitement, there are SP?s. Status and appearance are often important to SP?s, yet not so much what is thought of them by society. When I say that the 20?s were an SP era, I mean just that: the people were of loose ethics and wanted to be free of responsibility. Of course this does not encompass everyone, but it is the stereotype of the times, just as not all people were hippies in the 1960?s, the 60?s are stereotypically the hippie era. ?Don?t be afraid?Taste everything?Sometimes I think we only half live over here. The Italians live all the way.?2 Thus a young Ernest Hemingway expressed his creed after returning from Italy and his Red Cross experience during World War I. Hemingway is a perfect example of an SP, in how he lived his life, and he fits perfectly into the times in which he wrote.

?We call it the Lawless Decade, but it has been known by many names. F. Scott Fitzgerald, using bathtub gin for the ceremonies, christened it the Jazz Age. Westbrook Pegler called it the Era of Wonderful Nonsense.?3 The Era of Wonderful Nonsense?what better way to exemplify the fact that SP?s dominated the 20?s then to pinpoint just what SP?s stand for in such a way? With so many places to start, whether it be with flappers, gangsters, or bootleggers?there is certainly a focal point for the lawlessness of the 20?s: Prohibition. Gatsby himself, although fictitious, was one of thousands to make prohibition the ?sopping-wet farce?4 that it soon became. As bootleggers came into play, people across the country felt a surge of newfound freedom based power. Organized crime became rampant. It became the style of men to be womanizers?and even the president himself, Franklin D. Roosevelt, became known for his decadent tendencies. Yet, with all of this newfound freedom, it was impossible for women not to retaliate. Thus came the popularity of the women?s rights movement. The stylish girl soon became the Flapper: the short skirted, boyish haircut-ed, somewhat debauched (seemingly so to the older, pragmatic, and simple generation, of which the members were highly taken aback by this new social norm) woman. As it was the style of men to womanize, many women soon became somewhat coquettish in behavior. To some, this new flaunting on women?s part somewhat bastardized the goal of the movement: to prove that women were no weaker than men and deserved equal rights. However, those that felt this way were not SP?s, for SP?s were in it for the fun, and the more sexuality and booze the more fun.

Daisy was a flapper in the sense of style, yet she did not have the yearning for freedom to break free from Tom and prove herself a true female libertarian. Perhaps this reflected her shallow, material character, ?Her voice is full of money?5. Yet we are constantly given traces of a deeper side of Daisy by Fitzgerald, leading us to believe that we will find the truth, yet it still lingers in the back of our minds at the end of the novel. ?I?m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool- that?s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.?6 However, it is still clear to readers that Daisy is spoiled and shallow. She has no sense of responsibility, and this is a key point in the character of SP?s. Rather than deal with a problem they run off to have more mischief and gratify their wild desires. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”7

Shallow desires? Yes, they may all have been driven by shallow desires in The Great Gatsby. However, I am proposing that it was not because of their wealthy upbringing, but rather, it was their predisposed psyche as the basis for their actions. It is fair to classify them as shallow, however, is it not the Judeo-Christian ethic not to judge? Fitzgerald simply tried to typify the mood of the 20?s in his characters, and the mood was a hedonistic one. They are not evil, they are flawed, and unlike most flawed characters in novels developing and maturing, Fitzgerald?s characters met a grim end by not maturing, which brings us to feel that they are somewhat evil. Yet, why do we feel that they are shallow, really? Simply because most of us cannot relate, therefore cannot understand, therefore classify them as an example of something wrong, which is why this paper took a psychological view, because you are meant to understand and not to judge.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner?s Sons, 1925.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence.

Moniaci, Jonathon. ?The Great Gatsby?

Sann, Paul. ?The Lawless Decade?


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