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Reasons ‘Gatsby’ is the Great American Novel

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    In this classic American novel authored by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby proves to be a satirical work of literature that illuminates flaws, misconceptions, and ignorance of society as a whole and the ideals of the “American dream” through Gatsby’s actions and his belief that the past can be repeated for the right price. Throughout the novel, Jay Gatsby struggles to live his own version of the “American dream. ” The dream of high social status, wealth, and past love ultimately leads to the down fall of Jay Gatsby.

    Gatsby is not born into wealth and tradition, but into a lower social class than that of his love, Daisy (who was partially based on Fitzgerald‘s wife, Zelda). After returning from the war, Gatsby decides that in order to court Daisy he must obtain wealth. Gatsby meets Meyer Wolfsheim, a known gambler, and a shady character. Gatsby tells Nick of Wolfsheim,” He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919”. Later on in the novel Wolfsheim tells Nick of how he met Gatsby as a poor young soldier just back from the war, “I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter”.

    Fitzgerald leads the reader to believe that Gatsby’s wealth has been acquired through illegal activities. Fitzgerald shows that the conceptual thought of the “American dream” is flawed through the contrasting deaths of Gatsby and Myrtle. The juxtaposition of Gatsby and Myrtle’s deaths is realized through looking at their history. In this novel, as previously stated, Gatsby is a man who came from humble beginnings financially. In his early twenties, when he meets Daisy who is of an aristocratic family, Gatsby made the decision that he will do anything he must to make enough money in order to marry Daisy. Daisy is compared to the “Holy Grail” and Gatsby’s dream is like a knight’s quest, showing once again the dream’s spiritual nature,” (MSU).

    When the action of this novel begins, Gatsby has already worked his way up to a rich lifestyle and is in the process of throwing numerous over-the-top parties in hopes of getting Daisy to fall in love with him again. Immediately in the first chapter, we see that Gatsby is living the “American dream” when Nick describes his mansion as a colossal affair “spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. ? Even though Gatsby is living the “American dream” in all of his wealth, he is still emotionally inept without the love of Daisy. At the opposite end of the cliche, Myrtle Wilson is extremely poor. Myrtle lives in the Valley of Ashes and has never had money. Myrtle is very displeased in her marriage to her poor yet loyal husband, George. She did not care or take into consideration that her husband was working very hard to provide for her and loved her very much, she only cared about having money and she found that in Tom.

    Myrtle is having a love affair with Tom while Gatsby is having a love affair with Tom’s wife, Daisy. Although the fact that Tom and Daisy are each cheating on the other is ironic, it is not juxtaposed in the story. This is where the author shows the other side of the American dream, Myrtle Wilson has the love of her husband but does not have vast amounts of money, were as Gatsby and the Buchanan’s have a lot of wealth but do not have someone who loves them the way that George loves Myrtle. At this point in the novel the soap opera like plot is fully revealed.

    Because of the divisions in the society of the roaring twenties however everyone ends up either unhappy or dead. Nether Daisy or Tom would ever consider being with their respected secret lovers because of the social restrictions of the East Egg society. Tom would never be with someone of a lesser social status and nether would Daisy, this means that both Gatsby and Myrtle would have to come to the realization that their quest for the “American dream” has ended abruptly and not the way they intended, this is what unfortunately led to their death.

    Daisy kills Myrtle by running her over in Gatsby’s car, but Gatsby does not tell the village that Daisy was the one who in fact killed Myrtle, even when he is blamed for it. Daisy does nothing to take responsibility for Myrtle’s death and even goes so far as to move far away to escape the rumors that she may have killed Myrtle. The actions of Gatsby and Daisy are very elusive. Later, Gatsby is murdered by George Wilson who thought that Gatsby had in fact killed Myrtle. The love which George feels towards Myrtle is nothing more than a mere mirror reflection of Gatsby’s love for Daisy.

    Both men were willing to go the distance to prove their devotion to the women they loved . Gatsby’s death is very similar to Myrtle’s in that it passes with little notice. No one comes to Gatsby’s funeral except Nick and Gatsby’s father. In Myrtle’s chasing of the “American dream” in decadent ways and in Gatsby’s living the “American dream” without happiness, their deaths are juxtaposed. Fitzgerald chose to include both ends of the wide spectrum in order to show the idea that the “American dream” does not bring certain happiness, nor is it worth the morality of one‘s soul in order to obtain it.

    Not only does the literary piece show the imperfections of the “American dream” through Gatsby’s death but through Gatsby’s life as well. The author’s idea is that life will never be perfect and he clearly expresses this idea by showing Gatsby living in his extravagant house, throwing amazing parties and driving beautiful cars yet he is still unfulfilled for something money was unable to purchase him, Daisy and her unconditional love. Through the use of characterization, Fitzgerald shows how most characters in the novel have no desire; however Gatsby did, he had “an extraordinary gift for hope. For example, Nick saw Gatsby as the “best of the bunch,” because he had this “grand dream,” but in the end he turned out to be “blind,” just like the rest of the characters.

    Gatsby, unlike the other materialistic characters, captures his dream, but it has no substance. However, most people are so void of ambitions that they don’t even have a dream. Daisy is Gatsby’s past, and yet she is his dream all intertwined into one, which he constantly attempts to attain. The characters in the book are so scattered mentally as well as morally that they do not know what to do; they cannot move because of a “paralyzed force. The characters are restricted to some form of a “spiritually empty world,” because of this force that inhibits them, from pursuing their dreams. Through the use of symbolism, Fitzgerald also portrays the emptiness in the characters. The characters in The Great Gatsby, are as blind as the speaker, they have no “direct eyes, shape without form, and gesture without motion. ” Another way the author displays the imperfections of the American Dream is through the imperfections of American society.

    We see examples of this reflection of corrupt society in the affairs, murders and other illegal actions that the characters choose to take. Specifically, we see this concept in the love affairs between Tom and Myrtle and between Gatsby and Daisy. It is obvious that Tom is sneaking around behind Daisy’s back to visit his mistress, when Nick describes his meeting with Myrtle – “So Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up together to New York- or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in another car. ” Immoral actions like Tom’s prove that humans are far from being flawless.

    Moreover, after running over Myrtle, Gatsby and Daisy do nothing to show remorse or sorrow for her tragic death. This particular lack of concern causes George Wilson to shoot Gatsby. The endless list of dishonest episodes that Fitzgerald selected to include in The Great Gatsby, shows the deficiency of the “American dream” ideal. The “American dream” cannot ensure happiness because the world is always going to be somewhat corrupt and damaged by human hands and imperfect thoughts. Fitzgerald encompasses all of these things to show that the “American dream” cannot ensure contentment.

    Without this theme reverberating throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby would have far less meaning. The “American dream” is a concept in which the characters in the novel are trying to capture, and it is deserving of the chase, however this pursuit can sometimes lead to unfortunate endings that may outweigh the sought after rewards. This pursuit of the “American dream” caused Myrtle, Gatsby and George to lose their lives, as well as have Tom and Daisy to be married to someone whom they do not love. This chase for the “American dream” can be very risky, which has great rewards at an undoubtedly high cost.

    However engaging in this chase is a part of life, and one must take part in order to really live, deciding how much of your life to devote to this chase, however is what makes all of us as humans different from one another. Some critics believe that Fitzgerald’s character of Jay Gatsby, is his similar. Gatsby and Fitzgerald are extremely similar to each other. However, there are also differences that Fitzgerald made to Gatsby in order to express his own weaknesses. Basically, there are three points of interest that are most obvious when comparing: their family background and education, their Romantic Idealism and their ambition.

    First of all, both of them were born in a middle classed family. Fitzgerald’s father was originally fairly wealthy but he became unsuccessful after the crash of his business. Same with Gatsby, he also came from a some what underprivileged family, which influenced a lot on his personality and his goal. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald was someone who had a family root in Maryland, unlike him; Gatsby lied about his family background to impress Daisy. Other than that, they both dropped out from their universities and joined the army in 1917.

    Furthermore, the two men were motivated to work hard and grow to be successful for their loved ones. For Fitzgerald it was Zelda Sayre (his wife) whom he said to be his “golden girl”, to win her heart he used his talents to write novels which made him famous and rich, which was also the only way to live up to Zelda’s “golden” standards. Similarly, Jay Gatsby’s dream girl would be Daisy, she was a beautiful expensive flapper, but because that “rich girls don’t marry poor boys”, Gatsby would do anything to make money in order to propose to her.

    In addition, while Fitzgerald had the ambition of becoming wealthy even when he was a child, similarly Gatsby despised his poverty at a young age and promised to work hard to make money when he grows up. Conversely, the method that they used to become rich is not the same. Unlike Fitzgerald who earns his way through by writing, Gatsby makes all his money by involving illegal alcohol and drugs. Overall, the great Jay Gatsby is a part of Fitzgerald himself; although they may differ from each other, they share many of the same qualities such as their background, their point of view of love and their ambitions.

    Works Cited

    Bradley, Keith. “Character Analysis: The Great Gatsby. ” Hubpages. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. . Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Detroit: Wheeler Pub. , 2008. Print. Millett, C. , Frederick. “Analysis: The Great Gatsby. ” MSU. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. . SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Great Gatsby. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 6 May 2010. Wikipedia contributors. “The Great Gatsby. ” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 April. 2010. Web. 28 April. 2010

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