Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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    The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about
the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its
illusionary goals. The attempt to capture the American Dream is central to many
novels. This dream is different 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 one 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 affluent Daisy. Knowing he
could not marry her because of the difference in their social status, he leaves
her to amass wealth to reach her economic standards. Once he acquires this
wealth, he moves near to Daisy, "Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy
would be just across the bay," 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 this dream doesn't happen, 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."
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." He also watches and protects
Daisy as she returns home. "How long are you going to wait?" "All
night if necessary." 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 folly of his dream, but Jay innocently
replies to Nick's assertion that the past cannot be relived by saying, "Yes
you can, old sport." This shows the confidence that Jay has in fulfilling
his American Dream. For Jay, his 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 American Dream is finally fulfilled.
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. Gatsby is a
prime example of pursuing the American Dream. It is a marvelously written story
with multiple themes. It has been described as one of the best books to come out
of the United States, and I cannot dispute this. It deals with the utter
shallowness of society, and the morally corrupt underbelly of the rich and the
powerful. This is an excellent story that is recommended who have the time to
read it.

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