The Great Gatsby: Forces Of Corruption Essay, Research Paper
The Great Gatsby: Forces of Corruption
The theme of human corruption, its sources and consenquences, is a coomon
concern among writers from Shakespeare through J.D Salinger. Some suggest that
it attacks from outside, while others depict corruption occuring from within the
individual. In the case if The Great Gatsby and it’s protagonist’s fate,
Fizgerald shows both factors at work. The moral climate of the Roaring Twenties,
Daisy Fay Buchanan’s pernicious hold on him, and Jay Gatsby’s own nature all
contribute to his tragic demise.
First, the loose morality of Dan Cody, Gatsby’s unfortunate role model, and
superficial people who flock to Gatsby’s parties contribute to Gatsby’s downfall.
Their examples encourages Gatsby’s interpretation of The American Dream- his
naive belief is that money and social standing are all that matter in his quest
for Daisy. The self-absorbed debetants and their drunken escorts are among
those who “crash” his extravagent soirees. As Nick Carroway tells us, “People
were not invited- they went there.” (pg.40) Shallow, corrupt people like Jordan
Baker gossip with reckless abandon about their mysterious host. Their careless,
superficial attitudes and wanton behaviour represent Fizgarald’s depiction of
the corrupt American Dream.
Another force of corruption responsible for Gatsby’s fate is his obsession
with a woman of Daisy’s nature. Determined to marry her after returning from
the war, he is blind to her shallow, cowardly nature. He is unable to see the
corruptiion whick lies beyond her physical beauty, charming manner and playful
banter. That she is incapable of leaving her brutal husband, Tom, of commiting
herself to Gatsby despite his sacrifices, escapes him. As Nick observes,
Gatsby’s expectation is absuredly simple:”He only wanted her to tell him [Tom]
that she never loved him.” (pg.91) DAisy is not worthy of the pedestal on which
she is placed. Since she is hallow at the core, so is his dream which is based
on a brief flirtation, nothing more.
Finally, Gatsby’s own character-especially his willful obessesion-contributes
to his fate. Despite his naivete about Daisy and her friends who “are rich and
play polo together,” he, too, has been seduced by the lure of money and fame.
Unable to control his obsessive desire to have Dasiy, he cares little about the
means by which he acquires the money to marry her. He associates with known
criminals such as Myer Wolfsheim, apperars to be involved with bootlegging, and
is rumored to have killed a man. Finally, he lies about himself and his family
to enlist Nick’s support of his grand quest. The means he uses to achieve his
goal pervert his sacred dream. He prefers the pretty illusions he concocts to
the harsh reality of the obsession he allows to corrupt his life.
Gatsby’s character is probably the single most important factor in the story
of his life and death. But Daisy and a society which rewards corruption play a
part as well. F. Scott Fizgerald’s depiction of the soured American Dream
dramatizes the internal and external forces at work in a modern tragedy about
human potential for corruption