How money widens the gap of loneliness in the grea

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During the 1920s, the United States underwent an economic boom. People eagerly adopted opulent lifestyles, mistakenly assuming that wealth would bring them joy. This era also witnessed the enactment of alcohol prohibition and the empowerment of women. Consequently, parties, drinking, and liberated women became synonymous with affluence. Simultaneously, those in lower social classes tirelessly pursued upward mobility.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is set in Long Island during a time that is known for its scrutiny of social status. The novel introduces characters who are primarily focused on attaining financial success, while also delving into a deeper theme – the simultaneous existence of greed and loneliness and the necessity for companionship. Fitzgerald portrays these characters as unkind, careless, and disloyal individuals. However, despite their self-centeredness, they should be pitied instead of despised. The story unfolds gradually as readers become familiar with the characters, and the events that transpire in the final chapters contribute to the overall theme. It is through the characters’ responses to these events that the theme of loneliness becomes more pronounced.

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At the start of the narrative, Nick Carraway assumes the role of narrator and shares his perspective on himself. Through controlling what he discloses to readers, he portrays himself as a morally upright person who refrains from passing judgments. Nevertheless, this viewpoint evolves over time as he encounters various individuals whom he perceives as shallow and self-centered. Despite appearing content with his life, moments of loneliness occasionally emerge.He provides insight into the feeling of being alone when he reflects on turning thirty and the possibility of being by himself: “Thirty – the promise of ten years of loneliness, a decreasing list of single men to meet, a decreasing amount of enthusiasm, thinning hair”. He also admits his desire for someone to love him, even if it’s just another girl: “I didn’t have a girlfriend…so I imagined having one next to me, holding her tightly.” Another example that reinforces this theme is when Nick relates to feeling lonely after Gatsby’s death: “…it occurred to me that I was responsible because no one else cared – cared, in the sense of having that intense personal interest which everyone has some vague right to at the end…I wanted to find someone for him.” “I wanted to enter the room where Gatsby lay and assure him, ‘Gatsby don’t worry just trust me and I’ll find someone for you.'” This conveys a sense that fulfilling Gatsby’s need for companionship would also fulfill Nick’s own desperate longing for love in his life. Daisy Buchanan, the woman whom Gatsby desires, is actually Nick’s cousin. It is through Nick that Gatsby and Daisy are able to reunite after being apart for many years. Despite her wealth and having an attractive husband, Daisy also experiences feelings of loneliness. Her loneliness can be seen not only in her physical beauty and privileged mannerisms. The fact that her husband has a public affair only highlights his lack of love towards her, which further contributes to her sense of isolation.The source of her loneliness stems from being aware of the affair but lacking the courage to abandon her wealth and make a move. In order to manage these intense feelings of solitude, she depends on both her finances and sarcastic remarks as forms of protection or camouflage.

In a conversation with Nick, Daisy expresses her sadness and cynical perspective on life, attributing these emotions to the influence of her husband. She describes her face as both sad and lovely, revealing the depth of her turbulent feelings. Daisy shares with Nick about the difficult experiences that have shaped her cynicism, justifying it. During their discussion, she tearfully recalls saying when her daughter was born: “I’m glad it’s a girl, and I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” It is clear that Daisy wants to shield her daughter from the pain caused by men in her own life and believes that becoming a “beautiful little fool” is the only way for her daughter to achieve this protection.

Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband, shares many similarities with his wife. Despite his dominant and macho demeanor, Tom experiences the same loneliness as others. When his mistress Mildred Wilson is killed and Daisy considers leaving him, Tom’s facade quickly crumbles, revealing his fear of being alone. During a heated argument with Gatsby,
he expresses a mixture of defense and panic. He looks beyond wealth and acknowledges his solitary existence by stating, “. . . he saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization. She does [love me], though. The trouble is that sometimes she gets foolish ideas in her head and doesn’t know what she’s doing . . . Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time.” Tom knows how to say the right things to prevent Daisy from leaving him. While money attracts Daisy back to him, it is the fear of being lonely that motivates Tom’s return to Daisy.

Despite the fact that all these characters experience some form of solitude in their lives, Gatsby stands out as the prime example of loneliness enveloped in wealth. The events that unfold throughout his life, leading up to his tragic death, perfectly exemplify this theme. The primary image of Jay Gatsby presented to the reader is that of a mysterious man of great means, who hosts extravagant parties for a living and dabbles in bootlegging on the side. “People were not invited—they went there… Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all.” This marks the first indication of Gatsby’s isolation. He throws massive parties where it seems that no one truly cares if he is present or not. Guests come and go without showing any genuine concern for him.

Fryc 5Nick encounters Gatsby at his inaugural party, where he witnesses the escalating revelry and intoxication. Amidst the merriment, Nick specifically notices Gatsby standing unaccompanied on the marble staircase, scanning the various groups. However, unlike others at the gathering who enjoy affectionate gestures and camaraderie, Gatsby remains untouched by adoration or inclusion. Even in the midst of countless joyous individuals, Gatsby remains isolated; he remains solitary.

To truly comprehend the deep and constant loneliness that Gatsby endures, as well as the significance of his tragic demise, it is necessary to understand his past relationship with Daisy. Their intense love was abruptly halted by World War I. During their time apart, Gatsby creates an idealized image of Daisy in his mind and becomes desperate to win her back from her eventual husband. He devotes his entire life to solitude, ceaselessly pursuing wealth in hopes of reuniting with the woman he believes loves him unconditionally. Eventually, Gatsby’s dream appears within reach when he is led to believe that Daisy will leave her current spouse for him. However, before she can take action, Gatsby’s life comes to an unexpected end.

Gatsby’s funeral highlights the deep sense of loneliness he felt, as his supposed “love of his life” failed to send flowers. While she enjoyed her material wealth, Gatsby was laid to rest with only his father and Nick as witnesses. Despite numerous individuals exploiting Gatsby’s money and extravagant lifestyle, none of them showed enough concern to pay their respects. From the beginning, Gatsby led a solitary existence, never truly connecting with his parents and becoming a solitary wanderer. Even when he found his one true love, they were separated and he once again found himself alone. By dedicating himself to reuniting with the illusion he created, Gatsby ultimately realizes it was all a lie. He was born lonely, lived a lonesome life, and died in solitude.

The themes of loneliness, money, heartbreak, and greed are intertwined in Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Through the characters’ thoughts and actions, their shared longing for love is revealed. However, this desire is consistently hindered by the influence of wealth. Fitzgerald’s statement not only resonates in his own era but also speaks to the fundamental nature of humanity. He effectively conveys that genuine happiness cannot be achieved through wealth alone; instead, it creates a void that can only be filled with authentic love.

Clark, Edwin. Scott Fitzgerald Looks Into Middle Age. New York Times, April 19,1925
Fitter, Chris. From the Dream to the Womb: Visionary Impulse and PoliticalAmbivalence in The Great Gatsby. Journal x Autumn 1998 Vol. 3, No. 1
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953.

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