GreatGatsby ThemesIn The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, many themes are enclosed; the mostsalient of these themes is related to the American Dream.
The American Dream isbased on the idea that any person, no matter what they are, can becomesuccessful in life by his or her hard work. The dream also embodies the idea ofa self-sufficient person, an entrepreneur making it successful for themselves. The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American Dream during the 1920s,an era when the dream had been corrupted by the relentless pursuit of wealth. Inthis novel, the pursuit of the American Dream and the pursuit of a romanticdream are the ultimate causes of the downfall of the book’s title character,Jay Gatsby. Throughout the story, Jay Gatsby avoids telling the truth of hishard, unglamorous childhood. He does this to keep his superficial image ofhimself and to save himself from the embarrassment of being in a state ofpoverty during his youth.
His parents were lazy and unsuccessful people whoworked on the farm, and because of this Gatsby never really accepted them as hisparents. Jay Gatsby’s real name is James Gatz and he is from the veryunexciting North Dakota. He changed his name to Jay Gatsby when he was seventeenyears old, which was the beginning of his version of the American Dream. In allrealities Gatsby arose from his Platonic view of himself, the idealisticself-view that a seventeen year old boy has of himself (Fitzgerald 104). Thoughconcealed for most of the story, Gatsby’s embarrassing childhood is a majorsource of determination in his attempt to achieve the American Dream. DuringGatsby’s early adulthood, he joined the army.
He first met Daisy when he wasat Camp Taylor and he and some other officers stopped by her house. He initiallyloved Daisy because of her extraordinary house and because many other men hadbeen with her already. One evening in October, during 1917, Gatsby fell in lovewith Daisy Fay, and in turn she fell in love with Gatsby. “Daisy was the first?nice’ girl that he had ever known” (Fitzgerald 155). Their love was anuneasy one at first for Gatsby to comprehend because he wasn’t rich by anystandards and he felt that he wasn’t worthy of Daisy’s affection, but hisuneasiness was uplifted when he and Daisy fell in love and when he found outthat Daisy knew a lot because he knew a variety of things that she didn’t.
Their month of love was physically ended when Gatsby had to go to war, but theiremotional love never ended. As Gatsby performed brilliantly throughout the war,they wrote each other frequently. Daisy couldn’t understand why Gatsbycouldn’t come home. She wanted her love to be their with her, she needed someassurance that she was doing the right thing. It didn’t take long for Daisy toget over Jay because in the Spring of 1918 she fell in love with a rich, formerAll-American college football player named Tom Buchanon. This broke JayGatsby’s heart.
His love for Daisy was a strong one and he was determined toget her back. This first love with Daisy had a great impact on his idea of oneof the aspects of achieving the American Dream. Throughout the novel, the readeris mislead about how Gatsby became wealthy. Gatsby claims on several differentoccasions that he inherited his parents’ immense fortune. This is a story thatGatsby made up in order to keep his self-image up by not letting people knowabout his childhood. The truth is that Gatsby got rich by illegal measures.
Hewas friends with the notorious Meyer Wolfsheim. Meyer Wolfsheim was theracketeer who supposedly fixed the World Series of 1919. He was Gatsby’sconnection to organized crime, in which Gatsby became rich. Gatsby’s truesources to richness were selling bootleg liquor in his chain of drug stores andcreating a giant business to get rid of and sell stolen Liberty bonds (Mizener188).
Gatsby’s methods of gaining wealth corrupt the morality of the AmericanDream although they help him to achieve it. It did not take long for Gatsby toattempt to win Daisy back after he returned from the army. Jay Gatsby had thisromantic view of Daisy and himself together and happy forever. He felt the bestway to achieve this idea would be for him to become at least as rich asDaisy’s husband Tom Buchanon.
He knows that the best ways for him to pryDaisy’s affection away from Tom are gaining wealth and gaining materialpossessions. Daisy is a shallow woman who is easily overwhelmed by materialitems. Gatsby’s main way to show off his wealth and material possessions wereto throw lavish parties. His parties featured the finest drinks and live jazzbands. The parties were so huge that Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s best friend andthe narrator of the book, alluded to them as the World’s Fair.
Not only didthe parties fulfill Gatsby’s reasons for having them, but they also showed hisgrand sense of pride that stemmed from his richness. Gatsby and Daisy arefinally reunited by Nick at Gatsby’s request. This is Gatsby’s second chancefor him to show off his wealth and to win Daisy back. Gatsby uses this meetingto show Daisy what he has become through his possessions (Way 103). Daisy isamazed when she experiences the extravagance of Gatsby’s house.
When Gatsbythrows his imported shirts all around the room, she begins to cry because sherealizes that she has missed out on so much of Gatsby’s life. It is at thismoment, when the dream that he has strived for is right in front of him, that herealizes that Daisy isn’t as perfect as he imagined her to be. This is clearlyevident to Nick who thinks that: “There must have been moments even thatafternoon when Daisy fell short of his dream- nor through her own fault, butbecause of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyondeverything. ” (Fitzgerald Chapter 5) This is the first point in the novel whichshows that Gatsby’s dream can never be fully achieved, yet it is also hisdream being achieved because he is finally back with Daisy again even though sheis still with Tom.
The beginning of the downfall of Gatsby’s dream occurs whenTom suspects that Daisy is cheating on him with Gatsby. His hypothesis is provencorrect when he, Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, and Jordan Baker, are at a hotel in NewYork holding a conversation which breaks out into an argument. It is during thisargument that Tom finds out that Jay Gatsby and Daisy have been in love for fiveyears and that they have never stopped loving each other. As Tom and Gatsbyargue it becomes evident that Daisy does not know which man she wants to be withbecause she is in love with both of them because both of them are rich.
AllGatsby wanted was for Daisy to tell Tom that she never loved him, but she couldnot do that. She knew that it would be a lie if she said that so she simply saidto Gatsby, “I did love him once- but I loved you too. ” This statement opensthe well into which Gatsby’s dream will eventually fall because it shows thatDaisy is not Gatsby’s woman alone Tom begins the undermining of Gatsby’sidealist concept of himself by making Gatsby realize that he isn’t what he hasmade himself out to be. He makes Gatsby see that he does not appear to people inthe way that he thinks of himself. Tom describes Gatsby as a “bootlegger,cheap swindler, and a crook.
” These few comments shattered Gatsby’sself-identity because of it’s fragileness (Way 99). Tom washed all of theeffort and determination that Gatsby had put into becoming what he was andearning what he received, even though his methods were illegal, with a fewminutes worth of speaking. After the argument, Gatsby can feel a minor sense ofvictory because Daisy refuses to speak to Tom and when they are leaving, Daisyleaves with him. On the way back to the suburbs, Gatsby allows Daisy to drivehis car.
While driving, Daisy hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, the lady Tom ishaving an affair with. Gatsby and Daisy keep on driving and they act likenothing ever happened. Later that evening, Nick learned from Gatsby that Daisyhad been driving when Myrtle was killed in the hit-and-run accident. Gatsby’slove for Daisy causes him to be willing to take the blame if the blame if thedeath was traced back to his car. If Daisy’s love for Gatsby was based on truelove, instead of wealth and material items, then she would have stepped up andconfessed to her crime especially since she was riding in Gatsby’s car and itcould easily be assumed that he was the killer. Daisy was not concerned with thewell- being of Gatsby and this is shown when she is back at home conversing withher husband, over cold chicken and ale, instead of worrying about what mighthappen to Gatsby.
Gatsby, on the other hand, worries that whole night aboutDaisy. He worries that Tom might beat on Daisy when he gets home. These thingsnever happen but it is the fact that Gatsby was concerned about her well- beingand Daisy was not concerned with Gatsby’s well- being that is important. Sheis just a shallow person who does not know the meaning of the word love. She iscaught up in the times and in living the moraless and careless lifestyle thatshe leads. She could care less about what happens to anyone except for herself.
This whole situation proves that she is definitely not deserving of the highpedestal that Gatsby has placed her on (Internet 1). This is the greatest blowto his romantic dream of him and Daisy being together forever because shechooses Tom over Gatsby in a time of crisis. It shows that the man that shetruly wants to be with the most is the man she is living with now. Gatsbyrealizes this and his life begins to be pointless. This is his dream brought toreality.
The dream is completely dissipated and will knows it will never beachieved. It did not take long for George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, to tracethe yellow car which killed his wife back to Jay Gatsby. Because George Wilsonwants revenge for his wife’s death, and he believes it is Gatsby who killedhis wife, he goes to Gatsby’s estate and kills Gatsby and then himself. Thisis the tragic end of Gatsby’s life. All of his heroism, his rapid rise to thetop, all brought to a calamitous end because Daisy did not love him as much ashe loved her. Although Gatsby’s romantic dream was already dead, his versionof the American Dream was still alive and beaming.
He still had everything goingfor him; his youth, money, and personality. Gatsby is morally superior to hisfellow East Eggers and Nick acknowledges this when he tells Gatsby, “You’reworth the whole damn bunch put together. (Fitzgerald 162). ” To have it alltaken away for something he had not even done was the greatest misfortune of theentire novel.
Gatsby’s death is made even more saddening at his funeral. Nicktried to make Gatsby’s funeral respectable but only he, Gatsby’s father, andone of Gatsby’s acquaintances attended the funeral. None of Gatsby’sracketeering friends came, nor did the “love” of his life, Daisy. Nick trulycared about Jay Gatsby although nobody else did.
He exemplified what a truefriend is and did what only a friend would do for another friend. Daisy did notseem to feel a tiny bit of sadness over Gatsby’s death. This is shown in hernot attending his funeral and instead going away with Tom on a vacation. “Inthe end, the most that can be said is that The Great Gatsby is a dramaticaffirmation in fictional terms of the American spirit in the midst of anAmerican world that denies the soul (Bewley 46). ” Gatsby’s strong desire forwealth and Daisy, the American and romantic dream respectively, prove to be thegreatest reasons for his grave downfall at the hands of a ruthlesssociety. BibliographyBewley, Marius.
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“The Great Gatsby by F. ScottFitzgerald. ” Online: School Papers, Microsoft Network, November 19,1997. Way,Brian. “The Great Gatsby.
” Modern Critical Interpretations. Ed. HaroldBloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986: 87-105.