are enclosed; the most salient of these themes is relatedto the American Dream. The American Dream is based on theidea that any person, no matter what they are, can becomesuccessful in life by his or her hard work.
The dream alsoembodies the idea of a self-sufficient person, anentrepreneur making it successful for themselves. The GreatGatsby is about what happened to the American Dream duringthe 1920s, an era when the dream had been corrupted by therelentless pursuit of wealth. In this novel, the pursuit ofthe American Dream and the pursuit of a romantic dream arethe ultimate causes of the downfall of the book’s titlecharacter, Jay Gatsby. Throughout the story, Jay Gatsby avoids telling thetruth of his hard, unglamorous childhood. He does this tokeep his superficial image of himself and to save himselffrom the embarrassment of being in a state of poverty duringhis youth.
His parents were lazy and unsuccessful peoplewho worked on the farm, and because of this Gatsby neverreally accepted them as his parents. Jay Gatsby’s real nameis James Gatz and he is from the very unexciting NorthDakota. He changed his name to Jay Gatsby when he wasseventeen years old, which was the beginning of his versionof the American Dream. In all realities Gatsby arose fromhis Platonic view of himself, the idealistic self-view thata seventeen year old boy has of himself (Fitzgerald 104).
Though concealed for most of the story, Gatsby’sembarrassing childhood is a major source of determination inhis attempt to achieve the American Dream. During Gatsby’s early adulthood, he joined the army. Hefirst met Daisy when he was at Camp Taylor and he and someother officers stopped by her house. He initially lovedDaisy because of her extraordinary house and because manyother men had been with her already. One evening inOctober, during 1917, Gatsby fell in love with Daisy Fay,and in turn she fell in love with Gatsby.
“Daisy was thefirst ?nice’ girl that he had ever known” (Fitzgerald 155). Their love was an uneasy one at first for Gatsby tocomprehend because he wasn’t rich by any standards and hefelt that he wasn’t worthy of Daisy’s affection, but hisuneasiness was uplifted when he and Daisy fell in love andwhen he found out that Daisy knew a lot because he knew avariety of things that she didn’t. Their month of love wasphysically ended when Gatsby had to go to war, but theiremotional love never ended. As Gatsby performed brilliantlythroughout the war, they wrote each other frequently. Daisycouldn’t understand why Gatsby couldn’t come home. Shewanted her love to be their with her, she needed someassurance that she was doing the right thing.
It didn’ttake long for Daisy to get over Jay because in the Spring of1918 she fell in love with a rich, former All-Americancollege football player named Tom Buchanon. This broke JayGatsby’s heart. His love for Daisy was a strong one and hewas determined to get her back. This first love with Daisyhad a great impact on his idea of one of the aspects ofachieving the American Dream. Throughout the novel, the reader is mislead about howGatsby became wealthy.
Gatsby claims on several differentoccasions that he inherited his parents’ immense fortune. This is a story that Gatsby made up in order to keep hisself-image up by not letting people know about hischildhood. The truth is that Gatsby got rich by illegalmeasures. He was friends with the notorious MeyerWolfsheim.
Meyer Wolfsheim was the racketeer who supposedlyfixed the World Series of 1919. He was Gatsby’s connectionto organized crime, in which Gatsby became rich. Gatsby’strue sources to richness were selling bootleg liquor in hischain of drug stores and creating a giant business to getrid of and sell stolen Liberty bonds (Mizener 188). Gatsby’s methods of gaining wealth corrupt the morality ofthe American Dream although they help him to achieve it.
It did not take long for Gatsby to attempt to win Daisyback after he returned from the army. Jay Gatsby had thisromantic view of Daisy and himself together and happyforever. He felt the best way to achieve this idea would befor him to become at least as rich as Daisy’s husband TomBuchanon. He knows that the best ways for him to pryDaisy’s affection away from Tom are gaining wealth andgaining material possessions. Daisy is a shallow woman whois easily overwhelmed by material items. Gatsby’s main wayto show off his wealth and material possessions were tothrow lavish parties.
His parties featured the finestdrinks and live jazz bands. The parties were so huge thatNick Carraway, Gatsby’s best friend and the narrator of thebook, alluded to them as the World’s Fair. Not only did theparties fulfill Gatsby’s reasons for having them, but theyalso showed his grand sense of pride that stemmed from hisrichness. Gatsby and Daisy are finally reunited by Nick atGatsby’s request.
This is Gatsby’s second chance for him toshow off his wealth and to win Daisy back. Gatsby uses thismeeting to show Daisy what he has become through hispossessions (Way 103). Daisy is amazed when she experiencesthe extravagance of Gatsby’s house. When Gatsby throws hisimported shirts all around the room, she begins to crybecause she realizes that she has missed out on so much ofGatsby’s life. It is at this moment, when the dream that hehas strived for is right in front of him, that he realizesthat Daisy isn’t as perfect as he imagined her to be.
Thisis clearly evident to Nick who thinks that: “There must havebeen moments even that afternoon when Daisy fell short ofhis dream- nor through her own fault, but because of thecolossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her,beyond everything. ” (Fitzgerald Chapter 5) This is thefirst point in the novel which shows that Gatsby’s dream cannever be fully achieved, yet it is also his dream beingachieved because he is finally back with Daisy again eventhough she is still with Tom. The beginning of the downfall of Gatsby’s dream occurswhen Tom suspects that Daisy is cheating on him with Gatsby. His hypothesis is proven correct when he, Gatsby, Daisy,Nick, and Jordan Baker, are at a hotel in New York holding aconversation which breaks out into an argument. It isduring this argument that Tom finds out that Jay Gatsby andDaisy have been in love for five years and that they havenever stopped loving each other.
As Tom and Gatsby argue itbecomes evident that Daisy does not know which man she wantsto be with because she is in love with both of them becauseboth of them are rich. All Gatsby wanted was for Daisy totell Tom that she never loved him, but she could not dothat. She knew that it would be a lie if she said that soshe simply said to Gatsby, “I did love him once- but I lovedyou too. ” This statement opens the well into which Gatsby’sdream will eventually fall because it shows that Daisy isnot Gatsby’s woman aloneTom begins the undermining of Gatsby’s idealist conceptof himself by making Gatsby realize that he isn’t what hehas made himself out to be. He makes Gatsby see that hedoes not appear to people in the way that he thinks ofhimself.
Tom describes Gatsby as a “bootlegger, cheapswindler, and a crook. ” These few comments shatteredGatsby’s self-identity because of it’s fragileness (Way 99). Tom washed all of the effort and determination that Gatsbyhad put into becoming what he was and earning what hereceived, 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 theyare leaving, Daisy leaves with him. On the way back to thesuburbs, Gatsby allows Daisy to drive his car.
Whiledriving, Daisy hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, the lady Tom ishaving an affair with. Gatsby and Daisy keep on driving andthey act like nothing ever happened. Later that evening,Nick learned from Gatsby that Daisy had been driving whenMyrtle was killed in the hit-and-run accident. Gatsby’slove for Daisy causes him to be willing to take the blame ifthe blame if the death was traced back to his car.
IfDaisy’s love for Gatsby was based on true love, instead ofwealth and material items, then she would have stepped upand confessed to her crime especially since she was ridingin Gatsby’s car and it could easily be assumed that he wasthe killer. Daisy was not concerned with the well- being ofGatsby and this is shown when she is back at home conversingwith her husband, over cold chicken and ale, instead ofworrying about what might happen to Gatsby. Gatsby, on theother hand, worries that whole night about Daisy. Heworries that Tom might beat on Daisy when he gets home.
These things never happen but it is the fact that Gatsby wasconcerned about her well- being and Daisy was not concernedwith Gatsby’s well- being that is important. She is just ashallow person who does not know the meaning of the wordlove. She is caught up in the times and in living themoraless and careless lifestyle that she leads. She couldcare less about what happens to anyone except for herself. This whole situation proves that she is definitely notdeserving of the high pedestal that Gatsby has placed her on(Internet 1). This is the greatest blow to his romanticdream of him and Daisy being together forever because shechooses Tom over Gatsby in a time of crisis.
It shows thatthe man that she truly wants to be with the most is the manshe is living with now. Gatsby realizes this and his lifebegins to be pointless. This is his dream brought toreality. The dream is completely dissipated and will knowsit will never be achieved. It did not take long for George Wilson, Myrtle’shusband, to trace the yellow car which killed his wife backto Jay Gatsby. Because George Wilson wants revenge for hiswife’s death, and he believes it is Gatsby who killed hiswife, he goes to Gatsby’s estate and kills Gatsby and thenhimself.
This is the tragic end of Gatsby’s life. All ofhis heroism, his rapid rise to the top, all brought to acalamitous end because Daisy did not love him as much as heloved her. Although Gatsby’s romantic dream was alreadydead, his version of the American Dream was still alive andbeaming. He still had everything going for him; his youth,money, and personality. Gatsby is morally superior to hisfellow East Eggers and Nick acknowledges this when he tellsGatsby, “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together. (Fitzgerald 162).
” To have it all taken away for somethinghe had not even done was the greatest misfortune of theentire novel. Gatsby’s death is made even more saddening at hisfuneral. Nick tried to make Gatsby’s funeral respectablebut only he, Gatsby’s father, and one of Gatsby’sacquaintances attended the funeral. None of Gatsby’sracketeering friends came, nor did the “love” of his life,Daisy. Nick truly cared about Jay Gatsby although nobodyelse did. He exemplified what a true friend is and did whatonly 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 her not attending his funeral and insteadgoing away with Tom on a vacation. “In the end, the most that can be said is that The GreatGatsby is a dramatic affirmation in fictional terms of theAmerican spirit in the midst of an American world thatdenies the soul (Bewley 46). ” Gatsby’s strong desire forwealth and Daisy, the American and romantic dreamrespectively, prove to be the greatest reasons for his gravedownfall at the hands of a ruthless society. Works CitedBewley, Marius.
“Scott Fitzgerald and the Collapse of theAmerican Dream. ” Modern Critical Views: F. ScottFitzgerald. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea HousePublishers, 1985: 32-45.
Mizener, Arthur. “F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby. “The American Novel: From James Fenimore Cooper toWilliam Faulkner.
Ed. Wallace Stegner. New York:Basic Books, Inc. , Publishers, 1965: 180-191. Scott Fitzgerald, Frances.
The Great Gatsby. New York:Macmillan Publishing Company, 1925. “The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
” Online: SchoolPapers, Microsoft Network, November 19,1997. Way, Brian. “The Great Gatsby. ” Modern CriticalInterpretations. Ed.
Harold Bloom. New York: ChelseaHouse Publishers, 1986: 87-105.