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The Great Gatsby is often viewed as a representation of the American Dream, but Fitzgerald actually critiques it rather than endorsing it. The novel presents a thorough critique of the American Dream, making it one of the harshest criticisms in our literature. By approaching The Great Gatsby from this perspective, it transcends being merely a depiction of the Jazz Age and becomes an important national novel that offers profound insights into the essence of the American experience, which cannot be separated from its artistic form.

Fitzgerald’s prowess in American prose is evident in this particular book, as he stands alongside the greatest masters. The Great Gatsby acts as a critique of the American experience, going beyond Sesame’s assessment of his nation’s imperfections. The key focus of Gatsby revolves around the gradual deterioration of the American dream, which represents the merging of materialism and spirituality, symbolizing the optimistic growth of life’s opportunities.

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As a result, the text inevitably led to the issue that American artists have always faced when portraying the American experience – the challenge of identifying the elusive line where reality transitions into illusion. Throughout history, the American dream has contradicted Calvinistic beliefs, instead valuing the inherent goodness in nature and mankind. Consequently, it originates from the frontier and Western culture rather than the Puritan tradition. The coexistence of these two viewpoints in American society has generated a tension that has inspired much of our most remarkable art.

Youth of both the spirit and the body is necessary for its existence; limitation and deprivation are its worst enemies. However, youth refuses to believe in them: for that reason, it condemns the idea that the human mind is incapable of further progress. This is exactly what the current rulers of the world are promoting, and their supporters here are echoing, particularly in relation to religion and politics, asserting that it is unlikely that anything better than what our ancestors knew will be discovered. Fortunately, the American mind is already too open to these deceptions. As long as we have the printing press, science can never regress. In order to preserve the freedom of thought, every individual should be willing to sacrifice themselves. Therefore, it would be unimaginable in this day and age for the passion and energy of youth to turn against freedom and science. This is the essential foundation for the American dream to flourish without restraints.

Jefferson’s voice, though similar to many European voices of his time, holds a distinctive connection to the country he addressed. This outlook was ingrained in the essence of America and has endured in different, sometimes distorted, forms. This is perhaps where the problem arises, as if these American imaginative qualities possess greatness, they necessitate immediate discerning and practical remedies. The truth in this attitude lies in its belief in life, while the misconception lies in the indiscriminate proliferation of its material prospects.

The Great Gatsby is a novel that explores the American dream during a corrupt time, with an attempt to decipher the line between reality and illusion. The illusions in the book seem more genuine than reality itself, as they have the potential to consume the entire story. However, Gatsby represents the reality, which is intangible compared to the concrete illusions. The reality represents a spiritual concept, a promise rather than a physical possession, as it involves faith and belief in the unclear yet promising aspects of life.

In Gatsby’s America, the truth is incomprehensible and dissatisfied. Gatsby’s friend and Fitzgerald’s narrator, Nick Caraway, describes Gatsby in this way: “Even though he often expresses sentimental feelings that are shocking, Gatsby reminds me of something indescribable – a vague rhythm, a small fragment of forgotten words that I had heard a long time ago.” At one point, a phrase attempted to form in my mouth, causing my lips to part like those of a speechless person. It felt as if there was more struggling behind my lips than just a surprised breath. However, no sound was made, and whatever I had almost remembered became forever incapable of communication.

This is not a pretentious phrase-making that vaguely gestures towards artificial significance. It is a vocative and precise description of the unholy cruel paradox in which the conditions of American history have condemned the grandeur of aspiration and vision to be wasted in shame and silence. However, reality is not completely lost. It ultimately redeems the human spirit, even if it exists in a wilderness of illusions, from the cheapness and vulgarity that surround it. In this novel, the illusions are recognized and condemned simply because of their rank complacency to remain as they are.

However, the truth lies in the power of the spirit’s support, which may not recognize itself as resistance. Nevertheless, it cannot accept or endure illusions once they are acknowledged. It can be seen as complete protection from absolute corruption, yet it signifies the difference between life and death. Gatsby never fully comprehends the false nature of his world or his acquaintances. The essence of his idealistic American dream is that it lacks the skill to distinguish.

Despite societal norms and values, The Great Gatsby presents illusions imbued with its own belief. These illusions ultimately reveal the idealized goodness within a flawed society, serving as a representation of the tragic nature of the American dream. Fitzgerald recognizes that it would be easy to condemn and categorize these illusions based on external values. However, doing so would eliminate their true essence that lies beneath, which can sometimes only be accessed by embracing them.

Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby” clearly demonstrates his understanding of the flaws in Gatsby’s romantic view of wealth. However, this is not the main focus. In the novel, Fitzgerald presents Gatsby’s longing for wealth as a desperate desire that remains out of reach. It is as if someone who was previously naive has now been touched by Grace and surpasses their previous idol to seek a higher desire. The scene where Gatsby proudly shows Daisy and Nick his collection of imported shirts has been criticized for being a failure on Gatsby’s part and a reflection of Fitzgerald’s inability to control and convey society’s true values.

The shirts worn by Gatsby are sacrosanct, and it is evident that he displays them not out of vanity or pride, but with a reverent humility in the presence of an inner vision he cannot consciously grasp, but fervently strives towards in the only way he knows. In an essay titled “Myths for Materialists,” Mr. Jacques Barren once wrote that individuals, whether real or fictional, who embody destinies, aspirations, or attitudes representative of humanity or specific groups, possess a mythical essence. In this respect, Gatsby is a “mythic” character, and no other term can accurately describe him.

The opening of Fitzgerald’s book highlights how he embodies the clash between illusion and reality in American society, establishing him as a personification of the American romantic hero and the rightful successor of the American dream. Nick Caraway describes Gatsby as “gorgeous,” a term commonly used in the 1920s, but Gatsby exudes a distinct and quintessential American elegance. Gatsby’s predecessors can be found in earlier works of American literature, such as the portrayal of a young bee hunter in Cool.

David Skyrocket’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas, published in 1836: I was under the impression that I was the only person on the street when suddenly a lovely and melodious voice broke the morning silence. Intrigued, I turned toward the source of the sound and spotted a tall individual leaning against a sign post. Their gaze was fixed upon the radiant streaks of light in the eastern sky, fully engrossed in their thoughts without noticing anyone around them. The person continued to sing with such precision and volume that their voice reverberated throughout the entire street. As I approached nearer, their appearance became clearer – they were a young man, not exceeding twenty-two years of age.

The man’s physique exhibited both lightness and grace, while also suggesting strength and agility. He wore a meticulously crafted hunting shirt, adorned tastefully with fringe. In his right hand, he held a finely-crafted rifle, and a hunting pouch covered in Indian decorations hung from his shoulders. His pristine shirt collar remained open, held together by a black ribbon tied around his neck. His boots were polished to perfection, without a speck of dirt. Topping it off, he wore a stylish fur cap, tossed on casually to convey an air of nonchalance. Though at first I assumed he was just a superficial individual amusing himself, one look at his countenance dispelled that notion. His face was handsome, bright, and exuded a strong masculinity. There was no mistaking the authenticity of that visage. His sunburned complexion, as dark as mahogany from the eyes down to his chest, contrasted with the snowy whiteness of the upper part of his forehead. Thick clusters of black hair sprouted from beneath his cap. Unnoticed by passersby, he continued his melodic tune… This young dandy of the wilderness, lost in thought at daybreak and singing to greet the morning, embodies the essence of Gatsby. It is due to this deeply-rooted American heritage that Gatsby’s idealistic yearning transcends the superficial allure of the Jazz Age.

However, Gatsby’s romanticism fails to capture his true essence. Despite his polished exterior, he remains untouched by the harsh realities of life. Fitzgerald meticulously crafted Gatsby’s character, presenting him as a symbol of high moral standards like a Renaissance play character. His humble origins and unsuccessful parents are overshadowed by his grand vision of himself. He believes he is divine, serving a superficial and deceitful form of beauty that has already been corrupted by history.

In the opulent environment of West Egg, Gatsby’s true identity is evident. He behaves like a disguised exile, reminiscent of a noble duke. His distinguished manner and refined speech reveal his authentic nature. Even his attire exudes magnificence with his white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie.

After Gatsby’s death, when his father travels to the East for the funeral, he appears as nothing more than a kind shepherd who once discovered an abandoned baby on a desolate hillside. However, thus far I have only provided general descriptions.

The first time we encounter Gatsby is at one of his extravagant parties which can be examined in greater detail in its description (excluding a brief glimpse at the end of Chapter I which will be discussed later).

According to the narrator, Gatsby possessed a unique perception of reality that suggested the stability of the world relied on something fragile and mystical. Fitzgerald withholds Gatsby’s physical introduction until he has successfully established this imaginative realm in which Gatsby exists. It is in this context that we can grasp the broader significance of Gatsby’s character. As evidence, the narrator mentions the constant presence of music coming from Gatsby’s neighbor’s house during the summer nights.

In the afternoon, I observed men and girls moving back and forth like moths in his blue gardens, amidst the whispers, champagne, and stars. During high tide, guests would jump from the tower of his raft or bask in the sun on his beach’s hot sand, while his two motor-boats sliced through the waters of the Sound and pulled aquaplanes through foamy cascades. Over the weekends, his Rolls-Royce turned into a bus, transporting parties from the city from early morning until well into the night, while his station wagon served as a vibrant yellow bug, eagerly waiting to greet all arriving trains.

On Mondays, eight servants, including an additional gardener, worked diligently throughout the day using mops, scrubbing-brushes, hammers, and garden-shears to fix the damages caused by the previous night. Despite its nostalgic and poetic allure, which often instills a yearning for more challenging experiences, this quality is indeed misleading. Gatsby’s struggle lies in the task of separating the unpleasant debris that lingered as a consequence of his ambitions from the actual essence of his aspirations. He must locate a perspective that allows him to merge the responsibilities and possibilities of life into one focal point.

However, the intoxicating excessiveness of the world that Gatsby dedicates himself to is ultimately destructive. Even within this paragraph, we observe how our priorities have become distorted and how the opportunities life offers are measured by material possessions. Nevertheless, in the impressive roster of opulent items such as motor-boats, aquaplanes, private beaches, Rolls-Royce cars, and diving towers, Gatsby’s vision continues to shine in its grand yet illusory magnificence.

It sets a rhythm for his visitors that they embrace, based on their own cheap delusions, without understanding the compulsion that drives him to offer them the hospitality of his incredible mansion. They come for their weekends like George Dane in Henry Sesame’s The Great Good Placement enters his idyllic escape. However, the outcome is not the same: “on Mondays, eight servants, including an additional gardener, labored all day with mops and brushes and hammers and shears, repairing the damage from the previous night. This sentence is crucial in the paragraph, and despite its fairy-tale tone, it carries an ironic hint that leans towards tragedy. And how remarkable is that mention of the extra gardener? It is as if Gatsby’s guests have disrupted the natural order. It perfectly represents the fragility of the moths, champagne, and blue gardens described earlier. This theme of the relationship between Gatsby and his guests is further explored in Chapter lb. The poetic use of American proper names has been an ineffective cliché in American literature for many generations.

But Fitzgerald skillfully utilizes the convention: Once, on the empty spaces of a time-TABLE, I recorded the names of the individuals who visited Gatsby’s house during that summer. The time-TABLE is now old and falling apart at its folds, with the heading “This schedule in effect July 5th, 1922.” However, I am still able to read the gray names, and they provide a more accurate depiction than my general statements about those who accepted Gatsby’s hospitality and showed him the subtle respect of remaining unaware of his true nature.

The guests’ names are most fittingly recorded on the margins of a faded timeTABLE. These guests, who embody illusions, are as transient as time itself. However, their illusions reflect the fractured pieces of a broken American dream. The timeTABLE they decorate is marked as “in effect July 5th” – the day after the national festival when tired holiday crowds, exhausted like fireworks, go back to their homes.

In this passage, Fitzgerald skillfully creates a vivid portrayal of crass American wealth and fates. Readers familiar with social and business directories and celebrity publications would likely be able to discern the technique by which Fitzgerald achieves this effect. However, it suffices to state that he, like Eliot, possesses an exceptional ability to recognize the cultural significance embedded within names.

The list concludes with a dreamy and mournful ending: “All these people came to Gatsby’s house in the summer.” The question arises: why did they come? The plotted story provides an answer – the extravagant parties, motor-boats, private beach, and continuous flow of cocktails. However, in the overall structure of the novel, one understands that they came for a different reason. They arrived blindly and instinctively, pursuing illusions in search of a reality from which they have become disconnected over time. Yet, it is through this reality that they can find fulfillment and wholeness.

And why did Gatsby invite them? Unlike them, he is the only one who has a sense of the reality that exists somewhere out of sight in this almost destroyed American dream. However, this reality is incomprehensible until he can once again give it tangible forms in his world and connect it to the logic of history. Gatsby and his guests have a mutual need for each other, but the separation in American experience has become too wide, and no party or luxurious hospitality can mend the divide. The illusions and the reality continue on different paths.

Gatsby is seen at the entrance of his mansion, bidding farewell to his guests in a poignant moment that carries great significance in the novel. The blaring horns had reached their highest point, and I turned away, crossing the lawn to head home. I stole a final glance backward. The slender sliver of a moon cast its glow over Gatsby’s residence, maintaining the night’s beauty as before. Despite the laughter and the lively ambiance of his illuminated garden, an unexpected sense of emptiness now emanated from the windows and grand doors. This isolation bestowed upon the host by the surroundings was complete, as he stood on the porch, raising his hand in a formal gesture to bid adieu.

If we refer back to the description of the elegant young bee hunter in Davys Crocket’s account, where he sings as dawn arrives, and compare it to this midnight representation of Gatsby raising his hand in a formal goodbye gesture while the remaining guests leave amidst the remnants of the completed party, the romantic quality appears similar. However, the situation is completely reversed, and from this latter scene emerges a perspective of significant depth.

In an instant, Gatsby transitions from being a charming romantic hero to becoming a legendary figure who embodies the hopes and struggles of his community. These “mythic” individuals lack individuality as their public and private lives are intertwined. With their shared significance, they have no secrets or secluded spaces where they can momentarily escape from observation. This universally intimate existence is presented in a ritualistic manner for the examination and guidance of the entire community.

The character labeled as “mythic” is unable to separate themselves from the atmosphere that defines their existence. This atmosphere is composed of the realm of consciousness (which is also public) that every person within their community or ethnicity shares, including those who have passed away. Gatsby embodies this “mythic” character as he lacks a personal life and his value and purpose do not rely on his individual accomplishments or happiness in a society made up of individuals.

In the realm of the realistic novel, Gatsby’s love affair with Daisy lacks depth and interest. It is easily dismissed as a superficial infatuation. However, Gatsby’s character remains unaffected by the triviality of the affair. In fact, he becomes more heroic in our eyes. Fitzgerald’s ability to achieve this remarkable feat raises questions about Daisy Buchanan’s existence in the novel and her two distinct levels.

She is what she is, but she also exists in Gatsby’s perception of her. The intelligence of no other significant novelist has been consistently undervalued like Fitzgerald’s, and it’s not surprising that no critic has ever acknowledged Fitzgerald’s excellent comprehension of Daisy’s cruel emptiness. Even admirers of Fitzgerald see Daisy as a somewhat good, albeit foolish, person. However, Fitzgerald understood that at its most corrupt levels, the American dream intertwines with the American debutante’s dream, revealing a hint of lifeless hollowness.

Fitzgerald directly addresses the challenge of revealing what Daisy brings to a personal connection. In the midst of one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties, where Daisy attends with her husband Tom Buchanan, Gatsby points out a particular couple to them amongst the esteemed attendees. Gatsby gestures towards a stunning, almost otherworldly woman who sits regally beneath a white-plum tree. Tom and Daisy gaze, experiencing a surreal sensation that comes with recognizing a previously ethereal celebrity from the movies.

“She’s beautiful,” Daisy remarked, referring to the woman being leaned over by a man who is her director. Upon initial observation, the situation may seem highly sophisticated and familiar. However, considering the context, we understand that it lacks true substance – the actress and her director can only try to comprehend reality through rehearsing a scene. Our attention then turns to other events at the gathering. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald effectively reintroduces this specific couple after two pages as a means of reinforcing his argument and creating an odd sensation of stillness or halted motion.

It seems as if walking behind the white-plum tree would only reveal the back of a canvas screen. One of my last memories was standing with Daisy and observing the moving-picture director and his Star. They were still standing beneath the white-plum tree and their faces were touching, with only a faint beam of moonlight between them. I realized that he had been gradually leaning towards her all evening in order to be this close, and even as I watched, he went one step further and kissed her cheek. “Like her,” Daisy said, “I think she’s beautiful.” But everything else offended her – undoubtedly because it wasn’t just a gesture, but an emotion. Daisy admires the moving-picture actress because she lacks absence. She is a mere gesture devoted solely to her own reflection on the silver screen. She has become a gesture forever dissociated from the tedium of human reality. Essentially, this passage is Daisy’s profession of belief. Here, she essentially reveals her standards for human emotions and behavior.

Fitzgerald depicts Daisy’s character as empty, which becomes increasingly evident as the story progresses and transforms into a cruel moral indifference. This portrayal is done with great insight and a powerful use of imagery, which is rare in contemporary American literature. It is surprising that Fitzgerald is sometimes accused of embodying the qualities that The Great Gatsby vehemently criticizes. However, the reason behind the mutual attraction between Daisy and Gatsby is straightforward, especially in Daisy’s case.

Nick Caraway described Gatsby’s personality as an “unbroken series of successful gestures.” Superficially, Daisy believes that Gatsby provides her with safety from the harshness of reality, as implied by his empty gestures. However, she fails to comprehend that Gatsby’s extravagant displays are fueled by a desire for a fulfilling life, which is distinct from the superficial ideals of romance and sophistication that quickly fade away. Nevertheless, in a certain aspect, Daisy manages to shield herself from the reality she fears.

The important question is not what Gatsby sees in Daisy, but rather the path he follows because of her and what he envisions beyond her. Despite Gatsby’s naive perspective, there is a touch of magnificence to it. Daisy exists for Gatsby as a symbol, represented by the green light, guiding him towards his ultimate aspiration. Fitzgerald skillfully addresses why Daisy possesses such captivating influence over Gatsby, capturing the blend of superficial snobbery and unfulfilled idealism that defines Gatsby’s reality.

In defining the quality of this love affair, Fitzgerald demonstrates a confident control. He depicts it as vulgar and deceptive. If it had any inherent interest, it would disrupt the novel’s structure. Our minds would be tied to the specific details and interests that keep us focused on the unfolding of the affair as a part of human history. Consequently, Gatsby’s “mythic” essence would diminish.

The way Gatsby is portrayed, with his economical presentation and his formally and boldly drawn structural imagination, immediately shows us that Daisy’s importance in the story lies in her inability to represent Gatsby’s vision. Furthermore, Daisy’s representative quality as a product of the Jazz Age connects her personal failure to the larger failure of Gatsby’s society in fulfilling his desires. Fitzgerald ensures that Daisy’s failure never becomes solely an individual or personal one.

Symbolically, Gatsby links Daisy to the downfall of American society’s extravagance. There is a famous passage where Gatsby views Daisy as a representation of wealth and glamour. During a conversation with Gatsby, Nick Caraway remarks on Daisy’s voice, saying, “She has an indiscreet voice.” After pausing momentarily, I continued, and he promptly replied, “Her voice is filled with money.” That was the epiphany I had been missing: it was saturated with money – the everlasting allure that reverberated in her voice, resembling the sound of jingling coins and the harmonious rhythm of cymbals.

The princess, known as the golden girl Gatsby, resides in a white palace high above. She endeavors to surpass the insufficiency of individual values by depending on their combination. However, even when united, they still fail to meet his desires just like each value does on its own. Gatsby’s gold and Gatsby’s girl are reminiscent of a fairy tale where the Princess creates entire rooms brimming with money spun from strands of wool. Yet in this enchanting tale, the true worth lies not in the gold itself but in something greater. Similarly, within this narrative, Daisy holds significance for Gatsby as she embodies the promise of fulfillment that transcends the constant glowing green light at her dock.

The main symbol in the book is the green light that can be seen at night from Gatsby’s house, both from the windows and the lawn. Interestingly, our first encounter with Gatsby towards the end of Chapter I revolves around this light. Nick Caraway, who lives next to Gatsby’s mansion in a modest bungalow in West Egg, returns from an evening at the Buchannan’s house and takes a moment on the lawn under the stars. It is during this moment that he realizes he is not alone when he sees a figure coming out from the shadows of Gatsby’s mansion. The figure stands with hands in pockets, gazing at the shining stars.

Mr. Gatsby seemed to be asserting his ownership of our local sky as he moved leisurely and stood firmly on the lawn. Although I intended to call out to him, I refrained because he expressed through his actions that he preferred solitude. He reached his arms out towards the dark water in an intriguing manner, and from my perspective, it appeared as though he was trembling. Without consciously doing so, I looked towards the sea and could only make out a solitary green light in the distance, possibly marking the termination of a dock.

When I saw Gatsby again, he had disappeared, and I was alone in the dark. Gatsby’s entire existence is tied to the meaning of the green light. The first glimpse we have of Gatsby is a symbolic scene that represents the essence of the entire book. However, the true significance of the symbol unfolds gradually and is fully revealed on the last page. In Chapter V, we gain a clearer understanding of the specific meaning of the green light, separate from its universal symbolism.

Gatsby is talking to Daisy while they are standing at one of the windows of his mansion. Gatsby tells Daisy, “If there wasn’t any mist, we could see your home across the bay. You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” Daisy abruptly puts her arm through Gatsby’s, but he appears to be absorbed in what he just said. It’s possible that he realized the immense significance of that light has now disappeared forever. In comparison to the vast distance that had separated him from Daisy, it had seemed very close to her, almost touching her. It had appeared as close as a star to the moon.

Now there was once again a green light on a dock. The number of magical objects he possessed had decreased by one. Some individuals may argue that this symbolism can easily be made common and less significant, as A. J. Crooning has demonstrated. However, if examined thoroughly in its complete context, it represents a compelling accomplishment. The tone or pitch of the symbol is perfectly suited to the issue it illuminates. Its immediate purpose is to guide Gatsby into his future, leading him away from the superficiality of his relationship with Daisy, which he has fruitlessly attempted (and continues to desperately try) to mold in accordance with his idealized vision.

The green light represents Gatsby’s optimism for the future and his belief in achieving his goals. It visually stretches across the bay, making a strong impact. Furthermore, the green light symbolizes the historical significance of Gatsby’s hope, which becomes more apparent throughout the text. The symbol is repeated multiple times in the story, particularly at the end where it represents Gatsby’s belief in an elusive future. Nevertheless, he remains resilient and determined to pursue his goals by expressing a desire to run faster and reach farther.

Despite facing resistance, we persistently strive forward while being constantly reminded of the past. The American dream, rooted in the past yet focused on the future, enables Americans to reconnect with their traditional heritage. This paradoxical situation involves retreating into historical patterns while simultaneously pursuing future prospects. Gatsby’s perception of Daisy carries a profound echo of the past.

Gatsby and Daisy had met and fallen in love five years before the novel’s events. During their time apart, she became a legendary figure in his mind, representing both his personal history and the larger historical narrative. However, when they finally reunite after five years, Gatsby realizes that she is not the same as he remembers. He expresses frustration, lamenting how she used to understand him but now doesn’t. In his frustration, Gatsby paces along a path filled with fruit rinds, discarded favors, and crushed flowers. I cautiously suggest that he shouldn’t expect too much from Daisy since one cannot relive the past. Gatsby incredulously exclaims that you can repeat the past and desperately searches for traces of it around him. Fitzgerald uses these dramatic moments to depict Gatsby’s symbolic role.

The American dream is constantly let down by a bleak present, symbolized by the remnants of fruit, discarded favors, and crushed flowers. Gatsby, trapped in his current situation, is more connected to the past than the future. His dreams and downfall parallel those experienced by previous generations of Americans.

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