Great Gatsby And Dream Downfall Essay Research

Great Gatsby And Dream Downfall Essay, Research Paper

The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream,

and the downfall of those who attempt to capture its illusionary goals. This is

a common them central to many novels. This dream has varying significances for

different people but in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is that through

wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness Jay must

reach into the past and relive an old dream and in order to do this he must have

wealth and power. Jay Gatsby, the central figure of the story, is a character

who longs for the past. Surprisingly he devotes most of his adult life trying to

recapture it and, finally, dies in its pursuit. In the past, Jay had a love

affair with the beautiful and seemingly innocent Daisy. Knowing he could not

marry her because of the difference in their social status, he leaves her to

accumulate his wealth to reach her economic and social standards. Once he

acquires this wealth, he moves near to Daisy, "Gatsby bought that house so

that Daisy would be just across the bay (83)," and throws extravagant

parties, hoping by chance she might show up at one of them. He, himself, does

not attend his parties but watches them from a distance. When his hopes don?t

show true he asks around casually if anyone knows her. Soon he meets Nick

Carraway, a cousin of Daisy, who agrees to set up a meeting, "He wants to

know…if you’ll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come

over (83)." Gatsby’s personal dream symbolizes the larger American Dream

where all have the opportunity to get what they want. Later, as we see in the

Plaza Hotel, Jay still believes that Daisy loves him. He is convinced of this as

is shown when he takes the blame for Myrtle’s death. "Was Daisy

driving?" "Yes…but of course I’ll say I was." (151) He also

watches and protects Daisy as she returns home. "How long are you going to

wait?" "All night if necessary." (152) Jay cannot accept that the

past is gone and done with. Jay is sure that he can capture his dream with

wealth and influence. He believes that he acted for a good beyond his personal

interest and that should guarantee success. Nick attempts to show Jay the flaw

of his dream, but Jay innocently replies to Nick?s statement that the past

cannot be relived by saying, "Can?t repeat the past??Why of course you

can!? (116). This shows the confidence that Jay has in reviving his

relationship with Daisy. For Jay, his American Dream is not material

possessions, although it may seem that way. He only comes into riches so that he

can fulfill his true dream, Daisy. Gatsby doesn’t rest until his dream is

finally lived. However, it never comes about and he ends up paying the ultimate

price for it. The idea of the American Dream still holds true in today’s time,

be it wealth, love, or fame. But one thing never changes about the American

Dream; everyone desires something in life, and everyone, somehow, strives to get

it. A big house, nice cars, 2.5 kids, a dog, a beautiful devoted spouse, power

and a ridiculous amount of money. That is the classical American Dream, at least

for some. One could say, an outsider perhaps, that Americans strive for the

insurmountable goal of perfection, live, die and do unimaginable things for it,

then call the product their own personal American Dream. Is having the American

Dream possible? What is the American Dream? There is one answer for these two

questions: The American Dream is tangible perfection. In reality, even in

nature, perfection does not exist. Life is a series of imperfections that can

make living really great or very unpleasant. Living the American Dream is living

in perfection, and that by definition is not possible, thus deflating our

precious American Dream. F. Scott Fitzgerald proves this fact in The Great

Gatsby, through his scintillating characters and unique style. Characters in

books often mirror the author?s feelings towards the world around them. In The

Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald suggested the moral decline of the period in American

history through the interpersonal relationships among his characters. The

situations in the lives of the characters show the worthlessness of materialism,

the futile quest of Myrtle and Gatsby, and how America ?s moral values had

diminished- through the actions of Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and Gatsby?s party

guests. Despite his newly acquired fortune, Gatsby still cannot afford his one

true wish, therefore he cannot buy everything which is important to Daisy.

"..Their love is founded upon feelings from the past, these give it,

notwithstanding Gatsby?s insistence on being able to repeat the past , an

inviolability. It exists in the world of money and corruption but is not of

it." (Lewis 48 ) In the novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses the uses of

literary technique of symbolism to reflect what life in the 1920?s was like,

through Fitzgerald?s eyes. The image of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg?s eyes is used

to signify an ever watchful godlike figure. "Just as Wilson comes

half?consciously to identify the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg with God, so

the reader gradually becomes aware of them as representing some kind of detached

intellect, brooding gloomily over life in the bleak waste land surrounding it,

and presiding fatalistically over the little tragedy enacted as if in sacrifice

before it." (Miller 36) The eyes not only symbolize a god?like being but

also Fitzgerald himself and his negative views of 1920?s society.

Fitzgerald?s negative views of society are society are also portrayed through

his depiction of certain guests at Gatsby?s parties. The symbol of the two

women dressed identically in yellow at Gatsby?s party represent the values of

the people of the 20?s. The two women meet Jordan and Nick at Gatsby?s party

and are completely self?involved. These women are only concerned with what

happens to them and the fun that they have at the parties and don?t even

inquire the names of Jordan and Nick who they are so openly speaking with.

"Do you come to these parties often?? inquired Jordan of the girl beside

her. ? The last one was the one I met you at,? answered the girl in an

alert, confident voice. She turned to her companion: ?Wasn?t it for you

Lucille?? It was for Lucille too. ?I like to come,? Lucille said ?I

never care what I do, so I always have a good time." (Fitzgerald 47)

Lucille admits that her general attitude toward life is that she does not care

what she does as long as she has a good time. Her entire motivation in her life

is to enjoy herself. When all she was asked was if she came to the parties often

she also felt the need to inform the rest of the guests of her trivial anecdote.

The reason that these women are indicative of the generation is because of their

self?absorbed characters and egotistical nature. Also, the food served at

Gatsby?s parties symbolize the attitudes of most people living in the

1920?s. At Gatsby?s parties, most of the food was just show and no one

really ate it. People display Large amounts of expensive food at parties to

subtly remind the guests how much money they have, which is exactly what Gatsby

did and the food was wasted. This incredible wastefulness is representative of

people who lived in the 20?s. They were so extremely wasteful because they

assumed with all they had gone through, they deserved to be. After so many years

of being unhappy and repressed from, among other things World War I, they

thought it was okay to become carefree when indeed it was not. Through

Fitzgerald?s use of symbolism to describe the costumed characters of the

20?s the reader can learn to constantly and conscientiously examine the people

that they surround themselves with. The novel also teaches the lesson of being

true to one?s self and following one?s own personal dream, not the one

Americans are programmed to have. Fitzgerald is not only a consequential author

but and effective moral adviser.


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