Disillusion With The American Dream
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald tells a tragic story that happened in the Roaring Twenties. Jay Gatsby, the son of poor farmers, fell in love with Daisy Fay before he joined the service in World War I. It was unfortunate that Gatsby was not wealthy enough to sustain their relationship while he was overseas. Daisy eventually married Tom Buchanan, who was fabulously rich. Gatsby was determined to win Daisy back. He strived to earn large amounts of money, and was eventually able to buy a mansion near Daisy’s house, where he held extravagant parties in order to attract her attention. With the help of Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin, he and Daisy were reunited. Even though Tom had an affair with Myrtle Wilson, the wife of garage owner George Wilson, and had no intention of keeping it a secret, he was enraged when he learned about the affair between Daisy and Gatsby. He confronted Gatsby in Daisy’s presence. Gatsby made Daisy tell Tom that she never loved him. Daisy reluctantly did so, but she was so distraught that she ran over Myrtle while driving Gatsby’s car. To protect Daisy, Gatsby decided to declare himself the driver. However, he did not know that she had decided to stay with Tom and leave him. Tom tricked George into believing that Gatsby killed his wife. George later sneaked into Gatsby’s mansion, killed Gatsby as he swam in his pool, and then shot himself. When Nick tried to inform Daisy of Gatsby’s death, he found out that she had gone to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Europe with Tom. She did not attend the funeral. Only a few people, including Nick and Gatsby’s father, attended, even though hundreds of guests went to Gatsby’s party. Nick formally broke up with Jordan, a professional golfer and Daisy’s friend, and then decided to go back to West.
The main theme of the novel is disillusionment with the American dream. Gatsby had dreams: he wanted to recover the romantic past when he and Daisy were together, and he desperately wanted to achieve higher social status. He believed that as long as he worked hard, he would be able to get what he desired: money, social status, and his golden girl. His aggressive schedule and the wealthy family he invents demonstrate his ambitions. To realize his dream, he would do anything: as hinted in the novel, he made his fortune through organized crime, most likely bootlegging. He tried to tempt Daisy back with his mansion and magnificent wardrobes, just as Tom won her heart with a string of peals worth three hundred thousand dollars. However, Gatsby failed miserably because Daisy could not give up the social status and security Tom brought her. She did not leave Tom for Gatsby; instead, she went to Europe with Tom while Gatsby was waiting for her and did not even attend his funeral. Few people attended his funeral, which shows that his attempt to gain social status also failed. Nick had a dream as well: he wanted to get rich, which is why he went to East and became a “bond man”. He too believed in the American dream; otherwise, he would not have admired Gatsby’s idealism. Nick considered himself to be a man of integrity and he was disappointed to see that immoral people such as Tom lived a rich and seemingly happy life. When Gatsby died, Nick realized that his dream also died. Disillusioned, he went back to West. George Wilson’s dream was to ear enough money so that h and his wife could move out of the Valley of Ashes. He bet his future on Tom, hoping he could resell Tom’s luxury car. What did not realize was that Tom had no intention of helping him. George lived for his wife, yet his wife resented him, and was having an affair right under his nose. The affair eventually led to her death, and thus the death of George’s dream. Myrtle Wilson’s dream was that she wanted to live an upper-class life, just as Tom and Daisy did. She did not understand that Tom could give her only momentary happiness. She was so blinded by Tom’s wealth that she did not even perceive the lies Tom told about his marriage. Tom bought Daisy a string of pearls worth three hundred thousand dollars, while gave Myrtle only a puppy and an expensive dog leash. Considering that Tom is so materialistic, it was clear which woman he treasured. It was simply a matter of time before Myrtle’s dream would be destroyed. Ironically, the characters who did not have a dream led seemingly happy lives. Tom Buchanan epitomized ?the American dream. He was enormously rich and successful as a football player. Tom was not in fact happy though. The reader can sense his insecurity. He could not appreciate anything because everything was too easy for him. He did not need dream because he wanted to maintain the status quo. It is exactly as Nick says: “…Everything afterwards savors anti-climax”. Moreover, Tom is a hypocrite. He was having an affair with Myrtle, yet he blamed Gatsby for having an affair with his wife and ruining his marriage. However, Tom was the victor in the end. This strongly implies the meaninglessness of American-style striving and success. It is sad that the victory belongs to the spoils. Daisy incarnates materialism. She enjoyed a luxury life style because of Tom. She lived only in the moment, ignoring the past, and not caring about the future. She had forgot about Gatsby before he sought her out, and she once said that the best thing for a girl was to be a beautiful little fool. As Nick said, they are careless people, yet they seemed happy about their life. It seems the author equates materialism with psychopathic behavior. The characters’ dreams are just like the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock: it burns all night there, but it is “minute and far away”.
The novel is so concentrated that the author conveys his ideas in fewer than 200 pages. The language is not sophisticated, but simple and straightforward. The magic of the novel is that the author weaves the seemingly simple words and phrases into an intriguing text. Nick’s narrative sounds sober and neutral, but the reader can hear the sigh of grief. The author uses many images to convey complex emotions and thoughts. For example, when Nick first saw Daisy and Jordan in Tom’s house, “the two women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon”. Gatsby’s fantasy is described as “a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing”, and the pursuit of his dream is like “adding it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way”.
The narrative is related to the first person. Everything that happens is recounted as what Nick’s perceptions. At the beginning of the novel, Nick mentions that he learned from his father that one should be neutral and should not judge others. Therefore, the narrative is intended to be objective. However, Nick’s words should not be trusted completely, because he still judged the people in the novel. Moreover, his emotion will also affect the readers. The narrative is situated in the past because the story unfolded in the 1920’s. The chronology is ordered in the usual linear way, which is a logical strategy for developing the main character, Jay Gatsby. It also makes Nick’s narrative easy to follow. The novel is allegorical: it attaches symbolism to each character, as explained in length here. In fact, the symbolism is so strong that one may well accuse the author of having created stick figures rather than real people.
The Great Gatsby is powerful. The language used by the author is so touching that the novel evokes pathos. The author uses complex metaphors to communicate his despair about human dreams, and to depict vividly life in the Roaring Twenties. He presents vignettes typical of the 1920’s, which are so colorful that they serve as windows through which the reader can peek into the dazzling Jazz Age. The atmosphere can almost be felt. The plot is carefully constructed. For example, Gatsby is developed gradually; no everything about his is revealed at once. The author describes the different facets of Gatsby’s life in the different stages of the story. An interesting aspect of the novel is that every character is flawed. Gatsby is not an exception, even though he is greatly admired by Nick. The deliberate imperfection makes the novel realistic. In short, the author successfully makes the reader resonate with his sympathies and feelings, even long after the novel has been put down. ?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />