Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby By Fitzgerald

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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In The Great Gatsby, the author F. Scott Fitzgerald shows the destruction of
morals in society. The characters in this novel, all lose their morals in
attempt to find their desired place in the social world. They trade their
beliefs for the hope of being acceptance. Myrtle believes she can scorn her true
social class in an attempt to be accepted into Ton's, Jay Gatsby who bases his
whole life on buying love with wealth, and Daisy, who instead of marrying the
man she truly loves, marries someone with wealth. The romance of money lures the
characters in The Great Gatsby into surrendering their values, but in the end,
"the streets paved with gold led to a dead end" (Vogue, December
1999). The first example of a character whose morals are destroyed is Myrtle.
Myrtle's attempt to enter into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed
to fail. She enters the affair with Tom, hoping to adopt his way of life and be
accepted into his class to escape from her own. Her class is that of the middle
class. Her husband, Wilson, owns a gas station, making an honest living and
trying his best to succeed in a world where everything revolves around material
possessions. With her involvement in Tom's class, she only becomes vulgar and
corrupt like the rich. She loses all sense of morality by hurting others in her
futile attempt to join the ranks of Tom's social class. In doing so, she is
leaving behind her husband who loves her. Myrtle believes he is no longer good
enough for her. "'I married him because I thought he was a gentleman.' She
said finally. 'I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn't fit
enough to lick my shoe.'" (Fitzgerald, 39). With the hope of being accepted
into an upper social class, Myrtle's morals and prior beliefs are gone, being
replaced by the false impression that by betraying her loving husband, this new
social world will embrace her. A second character that falls victim to the
destruction of their morals, is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is the supposed hero of this
novel "who believes that the riches he traded for honor can buy love and
happiness and bring back the past"(Vogue, December 1999). He too abandons
his morals; illegally earning the money that he believes will win back the heart
of his lost love Daisy. When they had a love affair long ago, she wouldn't marry
him because of his financial standing. The details of his business are sketchy,
when asked he usually ignores the question. Tom though, after some investigating
finds the true nature of his profession. "'I found out what your 'drug
stores' were.' He turned to us and spoke rapidly. 'He and this Wolfshiem bought
up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol
over the counter. That's one of his little stunts, I picked him for a bootlegger
the first time I saw him and I wasn't far wrong.'" (Fitzgerald, 141).
Gatsby makes it his life's mission to become rich, thinking this will be sure to
win Daisy over. Daisy is married though, and his life's ambition of having Daisy
fails. Gatsby surrenders his morals by breaking the law to earn the riches he
thinks will buy her love but it is done for nothing, Daisy was not won over with
his new wealth. A final character that succumbs to the lure of wealth and
discards their morals is Daisy. Daisy is involved in a marriage with a man she
is unsure of her love for. Tom is unfaithful, and has been involved in several
affairs, yet Daisy remains married to him. Long ago when she was involved with
Gatsby, she had ended the relationship because he was not of her "social
standing" and was therefore unfit to marry her. Instead she married the
wealthy Tom Buchanan. "In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago with
more pomp and circumstance then Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a
hundred people in four private cars and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach
Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at
three hundred and fifty thousand dollars." (Fitzgerald, 80) Right from the
beginning Daisy had already had second thoughts about the marriage, getting
completely drunk the night before and crying, but she went through with the
marriage regardless. By not following her heart and marrying her true love, she
abandoned her morals and married a man based on his wealth. In F. Scott
Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows how the morals of society
have been destroyed. The different characters each through their actions betray
their morals to achieve a different status in society. Myrtle, a middle class,
married woman, becomes immoral by having an affair in an attempt to join an
upper social class. Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man who has earned his wealth
through breaking the law as an effort to win back a lost love. And Finally
Daisy, a woman who marries a man only because of his enormous wealth instead of
a poorer man she truly loves. In the end, giving up their morals is useless,
they each fail at achieving the status they desire.
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