Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby`s Nature

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby , written by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a portrayal of the
withering of the American Dream. The American Dream promises prosperity and
self-fulfillment as rewards for hard work and self-reliance. A product of the
frontier and the west, the American Dream challenges people to have dreams and
strive to make them real. Historically, the Dream represents the image of
believing in the goodness of nature. However, the American Dream can be
interpreted in different ways. While some may strive for spiritual goodness and
excellence, others take the dream to represent purely materialistic values. This
is the case of Jay Gatsby, and Fitzgerald shows through conflict and symbolism
that such a materialistic interpretation of the American Dream is the very cause
of Gatsby's downfall. "Gatsbys personal dream symbolizes the larger
American dream where all have the opportunity to get what they
want."(Prasad Paragraph 3) This blured version of the American Dream is
represented primarily by the conflict between the newly rich and the established
rich, the East Eggers and the West Eggers. West Egg is the home of Jay Gatsby
and those like him who have made huge fortunes but who lack the traditions that
come with inherited wealth. The West Eggers live in a crude world, coming from
the adoption of wealth as their only standard in achieving the American Dream.
The East Eggers, represented in The Great Gatsby by the Buchanans, have the
inherited traditions that come with wealth and lack the crudeness of the West
Eggers. They have been corrupted by the purposelessness and ease that their
money has provided. Due to their inherited traditions, the East Eggers naturally
regard any change in the social hierarchy as a threat to the entire structure of
society. An example of this is shown when Tom Buchanan makes a remark about the
seperation of the family and eventual intermarriage between black and white.
"The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be utterly submerged.
It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved. It's up to us, who are the dominant
race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things."(17)
Thus, the wealth of the West Eggers and that of the East Eggers result in
similar human differences, though shown differently. That is why West Egg and
East Egg, apppear so dissimilar, are identical. They are both withering away
from the promise of the American Dream. Another example of the corrupt American
Dream is the automobile, a classic symbol of material wealth in America. In The
Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is obsessed with a life of materialism. He owns a
remarkable automobile whose appearance is envied by many. "It was a rich
cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length
with triumphant hat-boxes and super-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a
labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns."(68) Gatsby's car is
an overblown item created by wealth to fulfill the American Dream of personal
material success. It is, however, Gatsby's car that kills Myrtle Wilson when
Daisy runs her over. This indirectly leads to Gatsby's own death and portrays
Fitzgerald's theme that basing the Dream on materialism alone is ultimately
destructive. Along with the automobile, Jay Gatsby himself is a symbol of the
corruption of the American Dream. He is a romantic dreamer who seeks to fulfill
his life by earning his wealth as a mobster. Gatsby does not change much in the
course of the novel because his whole life is devoted to the fulfillment of a
romantic dream created that is inconsistent with the realities of society. At a
very early age Gatsby vowed to love and to marry Daisy Buchanan. His lack of
wealth led Daisy into the arms of another more prosperous man, Tom Buchanan.
Gatsby believed that he could win Daisy back with money, and that he could get
the life she wanted if he paid for it. He wanted to do away with time in order
to obliterate the four years Tom and Daisy had together. Gatsby wanted to repeat
the past, "I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before. She'll
see . . .".(117) Gatsby's romantic disregard for reality changes the
American Dream with his dream that love can be recaptured if one can make enough
money. The corruption of Gatsby's dream by adopting materialism as its means and
love, beauty and youth as its goal is due to the corruption of the American
Dream. Gatsby is not really respected and has no real friends, although a lot of
people attends his parties. The people attending his parties are basically using
him for his food, and great hospitality. Gatsby throws his parties for the
company, and in his way he is also trying to sort-of trying to buy friends, and
force people to spend time with him. Finally, Gatsby literally throws his money
away on these extravagant parties because his money is easily made, and
therefore, it is easily spent. (Bell Paragraph 2) Nevertheless, the corruption
of Gatsby's dream lies in the dream itself, because the vision of a "vast,
vulgar, meretricious beauty" (104) which a 17-year old Jay Gatz invented,
was the same as the dream of grown-up Gatsby. As Nick remarks, Gatsby's identity
was based on "a promise that the rock of the world is founded on a fairy's
wing." (105) His ideal fails because of his romanticism, in which he
believes that material success is itself an ideal. Gatsby's physical death is
only a completion of the death of his spirit, when he fails to understand in his
essential adolescence that material possessions can never live up to an ideal,
and that any ideal can never enable him to repeat the past. On the other hand,
we could imagine, that had Gatsby's life been given a different purpose, a true
spiritual ideal without confusion, he could have been a great man. Fitzgerald's
presentation of symbolism and conflict expresses clearly that a life based on
materialism alone is a corruption rather than a fulfillment of the American
Dream. Gatsby's destruction shows that those who try to maintain a lifestyle
based purely on materialistic values are doomed by their self-delusion. Thus, by
analyzing Fitzgerald's presentation and analysis in The Great Gatsby to America
as a whole, one can say that peoples thoughts and values are often misplaced in
the pursuit of material wealth. "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 and, finally, dies in its pursuit." (Prasad
Paragraph 2)
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