Personality and behavior are very important character traits, and must be analyzed in order to fully understand the underlying issues in a novel. F.
Scott Fitzgerald uses the technique of conflicting, but somewhat similar characters in The Great Gatsby in order to demonstrate how pursuing one’s desires can lead to both destruction and growth. He accomplishes this by using Gatsby, Tom, Nick, and Daisy to show the consequences of their unrestrained desires, and the actions they took to achieve these desires. As the title infers, Jay Gatsby is nothing short of great.Gatsby has created his own society, a lonely and pseudo-upper class.
This new class was built by Gatsby in order to help him cope with his own insecurities, especially the fact that he was not wealthy. His visions of becoming a “Dan Cody- have thoroughly encompassed his everyday life. His obsession with Daisy, and the fact that he believes that she left him because of his lower-class status, make him an ultimately mysterious man. Nobody knows how he became rich, nor do they know the motives behind his parties.
Gatsby’s modus operandi is unknown to the West Egg society, making him a unique spectacle for all to behold. Tom Buchanan is Gatsby’s main enemy, his evil twin’ if you will. Upon further investigation however, both appear to be much alike. Both Tom and Gatsby are motivated by a woman, whether it is Daisy and Myrtle for Tom or just Daisy for Gatsby.
In addition, they are both extremely insecure about their social status. Tom expresses his insecurity in the form of racism and sexism, as well as excessive pride in himself. However, there are invariably always some differences.Tom is a very violent person, a classic case of football player aggression.
He takes this aggression out on both his wife and mistress. He is also extremely hypocritical, condemning Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy but having no qualms about his affair with Myrtle. Gatsby is merely a lovesick young man, and he only means good. He never violently attacks another person such as Tom does.
However, Gatsby’s involvement in illegal activities can only cause one to speculate that he may be responsible for numerous deaths, much like Tom who provokes George Wilson to murder Gatsby and commit suicide.Although Gatsby and Tom are very much alike, Tom is a much more outwardly violent and aggressive man than Gatsby, making him much like a vision of Gatsby’s evil alter ego. East and west are expansively used in this novel to contrast certain types of people and their mannerisms. Fitzgerald seems to be implying that a person’s behavioral characteristics are due to their environment.
In the novel, the east is used to represent an evil area, much like the Valley of Ashes. The valley fully represents the evil and waste of the eastern United States.The valley is described as, ” a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat ,”” (27) demonstrating how the bleakness contrasts with the beautiful fields of wheat in the west. This west being described embodies all that is good in the world, a pure innocence that is quickly lost by all pursuing the American Dream.
Nick, Tom, Daisy, and Myrtle, all hailing from the west (were good at one time), have moved east, signifying their loss of the original good they possessed. It is interesting to find that Gatsby, claiming to hail from San Francisco, considers this the Midwest.Gatsby is utterly confused by the question of his birthplace, signifying his confusion with the question of good and evil. He doesn’t really know what lies between, there seems to be no grey area for him.
Gatsby seems not to recognize people who are partially’ evil as having cruel intentions. This quasi-evil includes all characters in this story, including Gatsby himself. Analysis of Gatsby’s behavior reveals this misunderstanding. Gatsby has engaged in illegal activities in order to acquire his wealth, and indirectly, Daisy.
Despite these evil activities, Gatsby does not include himself among other evil’ people such as Tom. The act of Gatsby stealing Daisy can also be seen as an evil deed, yet again, he does not include himself in the adulterer category’ in which he places Tom. Gatsby is obviously confused with not only east and west, but good and evil as well. Nick is an interesting character worth some observation.
Throughout the novel, Nick remains a passive observer, but yet his observations about life grow as he discovers more and more about Gatsby.Nick opens the novel in a nostalgic tone, analyzing the past and the lessons he has learned. If placed in correct order, these observations show a culmination of his understanding of Gatsby, and the growth of his sensitivity of Gatsby’s greatness. Nick is really the only character that understands Gatsby and his situation.
It is possible that Nick may identify with Gatsby, which can be seen when he states, ” I’d been writing letters one a week and signing them Love, Nick’ – (64) This quote reveals that Nick may have a love back home, someone whom he wants to impress and ultimately return to.Nick’s growth, however, follows a path of growth that begins with him being a mere bystander, not very involved in the affairs of others. As time progresses, Nick’s story reveals more and more about him, and he even begins to offer opinions. We learn that he is the child of wealthy parents, and he attended Yale which he strangely calls New Haven.
Nick is emotionless at the beginning of the novel stating, “I enjoyed the counter raid [World War I] so thoroughly that I came back restless. “” (7) Nick refers to have enjoying World War I, seemingly because nothing has happened to him.He is devoid of emotion for others, millions of them, who died in the conflict. However, by the middle of the book Nick has developed a true sensitivity and begins to open up about his feelings, stating, ” I am one of the few honest people I have known.
“” (64) Nick is reacting to all that has happened throughout the novel, especially the immense amount of lying and deception he has witnessed. By saying this, he is merely reaffirming to himself and the reader that he has never done anything so horrible in his life, referring to the lies told by both Gatsby and Tom.By the end of the novel Nick has emerged as an openly emotional man, one who now has sympathy for Gatsby. When no one will attend his funeral, Nick states, “After that I felt a certain shame for Gatsby-one gentleman to whom I telephoned implied that he had got what he deserved.
“” (177) Nick finally opens up and describes his feelings for Gatsby, and the fact that he know realizes how truly lonely he was without Daisy. Nick may see this as a foreshadowing to his life, possibly why he describes the east as ” haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes’ power of correction. ” (185)This influences his decision to return west, possibly to find his past love quite like Gatsby had done before. Fitzgerald includes countless examples of imagery to convey issues concerning the upper class and the American Dream.
Fitzgerald’s most obvious concern is that of the upper class. The novel is basically a criticism of this prestigious’ upper class of which everyone wants a part. He depicts the members as immoral and hypocritical. Gatsby has used illegal means to obtain his expansive wealth, in a way, bringing shame’ to their clean’ reputation.
However, the upper class in the book is portrayed to be much worse than Gatsby, explaining why he will not take part in his own parties. The attendees of these parties drink profusely and also are extremely immoral, crashing cars and such. They don’t care about their actions. Fitzgerald is clearly criticizing them for this behavior through Gatsby, who is too good and not good enough at the same time.
Tom is the classic stereotype of a stuck up’ upper class citizen. He is extremely racist and enjoys talking to no end about topics that excite only him. He also beats his mistress and is frightening to his wife.His racist ideas show hints of his true ignorance, for example when he tells Nick, “If we don’t look out the white race will be “will be totally submerged.
“” (17) Most of Fitzgerald’s criticisms of the upper class can also be tied to the American Dream. Fitzgerald uses the characters to question if this dream is really a dream at all, or rather a nightmare. Gatsby’s sacrifices in order to achieve this dream completely outweigh the benefits of his situation. He has worked his entire life to be with Daisy for a total of two months or so, which all ends when he is killed because of his association with her.
One must truly ask whether or not this American Dream’ is worth sacrificing for. Gatsby is the only one who has really achieved this dream, since all of the other characters were born wealthy. One can only come to the conclusion that this American Nightmare’ is not worth living, and definitely not worth dying for. Fitzgerald ultimately proves that people will behave in ridiculous ways in order to achieve their goals and become secure with their position in life.
Gatsby is a prime example of the consequences, since he ends up dead because he had finally achieved his dream.Nick is a complex character who analyzes Gatsby’s pursuit and possibly changes his life to make sure he doesn’t make similar mistakes. Tom’s dream includes having a mistress, and this causes the death of her as well as the distancing of him from his wife. Ultimately all parties in this novel are injured in some way by their unrestrained (because of their financial and social status) pursuit of dreams.
As a final thought, one must ask whether their dreams and desires are worth sacrificing for before beginning the relentless pursuit of a perfect life.