Audio: Listen to this post | © ClassicBooks.com
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald captures a world where most conflicts center around love, materialism, and position. Jay Gatsby is a poor farmer who struggles to amass great wealth, apparently pushed by the deception that his lady may have abandoned him for another man because of his deprived status. Gatsby has one ambition, and that’s to win his old love, Daisy. Daisy is now the wife of Tom Buchanan, but her husband seems to underestimate Gatsby’s new wealth and standing that may just entice his wife to make a turnaround to his old love.
Nick and Gatsby become friends and set a run of suspense-alarming events that keeps the reader hysteric. While the old lovers, Gatsby and Daisy, rekindle their passion, Tom Buchanan becomes a pain in their way. Strangely, even Tom is having a relationship with Myrtle Wilson, another man’s wife.
In the climax of the story, Myrtle dies in a hit and run accident. Tom convinces George, Myrtle’s husband, that Gatsby is her wife’s lover and the killer. George angrily traveled from the valley of ashes to East Eggs and ended it for Gatsby and himself.
The Great Gatsby is a classic American fiction that won accolades during its era. It is one novel that educates readers on triumph and tragedy through the imagistic prose of the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It captured American society during his era in 1925 and was initially misunderstood by literary critics as only depicting the jazz age post-war society. They later came to understand that it was a metaphor that captured the societal norms, practices, politics, and morals of the rich after the Great War in the 1920s.
The novel has now become commendable because of the author’s style that holds readers spellbound to keep on reading. Though fiction, it reflects real life as it shows how greed can corrupt, dictate the actions and choices of people. F. Scott Fitzgerald used the death of Jay Gatsby to picture the end of the American dream. This is a young man who pulled out of poverty but didn’t last amongst the elite due to corruption. As such, several salient themes can be explored from The Great Gatsby; the failure of the American dream, wealth, class and society corruption, love, and romance.
Failure of the American dream
According to the author of The Great Gatsby, Americans believe in working hard and making a name for oneself through determination. Fitzgerald uses the character of Gatsby to portray the rise and fall of that dream. Gatsby’s dream and desire to meet and unite with his love creates the obsession for wealth and success. He fights hard to overpower his impoverished past, and fortunately, fate shines on him. Unfortunately, this same desire kills him in the end because of the focus shifts from what’s right to frivolities.
American is a land of endless opportunities. Little wonder people from all continents see America as the final dreamland where they assume milk and honey flow abundantly and all pastures evergreen. But the American dream during the Gatsby era became corrupted with money and quest for materialism. The writer criticizes the version of the American dream within the 1920 era. The excessive interest in materialism and wealth changed the morals and values of society. Young men and women were alcohol addicts, immorality the order of the day apparently due to excess money. F. Scott Fitzgerald seems to draw attention to the fact that excesses in affluence lead to wasteful living, misery, regret, and loneliness.
Wealth, class and society
The characters in the novel depict the wealthiest people of New York City in 1920. Every character in the book is materialistic, and under such circumstances, the fight over available resources will lead to clashes. These include people that inherited a fortune and the people that made the wealth. Material things motivate each of them in the choices they make. Gatsby sees his wealth as a means of winning back his love and satisfaction. The party he throws every Saturday shows how lavishly he spends money and how wasteful he can be.
Each of the characters allows worldly things to possess them negatively. Those who don’t belong to the Upper Class are selfishly working assiduously to attend the level of others with wealth. The best examples are Myrtle and George, who are so materialistic that their action affects the choices they make.
The novel does not equate wealth with class. Gatsby’s attitude towards his wealth did not attract much of his neighbor, who belongs to a high societal class. Tom and Daisy Buchanan did not appreciate his ambition of attracting Daisy’s attention through his Saturday parties. In the concluding aspect of the story, Daisy decides to be with Tom because she can’t give away her social standing. This is the same woman that has strong feelings for Gatsby. This implies that sudden wealth does not immediately endorse one as an acceptable member of the traditional Upper Class of the society.
Scot Fitzgerald portrays a conflicting view of the characters and the way they look at things regardless of their social status. In an ideal situation, their personality does not portray the real American dream, which has to do with determination, hard work, honesty, and ethical-moral values. Gatsby’s wealth and success are built on the foundation of immoral behavior, lies, cheating, and all forms of corrupt practices. Gatsby wears the best suit, shoes, and drives one of the most expensive cars. He also lies to his friends that he attended Oxford College while he didn’t. Nick’s conclusion about the corrupt lifestyle of Gatsby and his circle is that west egg upbringing is quite different from the east egg lifestyle.
Money facilitates all forms of evil and corrupt practices we experience today. Most countries today are in abject poverty as a result of corruption carried out by the Upper Class. This situation is prevalent in most African countries where corruption is at its pick. People who belong to that class showcase themselves as gods and want others to worship and adore them. They hide under the ill-gotten money bags and commit all forms of crimes and get away with it. The level of corruption depicted in the novel is very annoying and makes believe that Gatsby’s era was a corruption-plague.
Love and romance
In the novel The Great Gatsby, most of the crimes are due to desire, romance, and love. Gatsby fell in love with a beautiful damsel Daisy, who agrees to wait for him after the war. But before his return from the First World War, Daisy marries Tom Buchanan. To upgrade his status and fight for his love, he enters into various criminal activities and finally becomes rich. He fights without looking back to win back his love; he takes no notice that she is the wife of another man. We can see that Gatsby’s love for Daisy is stronger than him. It consumes him and makes him act foolishly, sacrificially, and even stupidly. Love is said to be blind, really?
Another love and romance scenario is the relationship between Tom and Myrtle. As Tom seems to care for her, their extramarital affair might be love or just romance, who knows. Myrtle Wilson sees her relationship with Tom as an avenue to quit her marriage and enters into another one. Myrtle’s marriage with George is not what she hopes, and maybe that’s why their marriage miserably ends in death.
The whole idea of this novel is that marriages in the jazz age were induced by class instead of love and affection. What marvels readers in this novel is that Scott painted marriage like a fickle, unpredictable relationship that has no depth. Marriage vows seem not to matter to people like Gatsby, Myrtle, Buchanan, Daisy, etc. We may think that it ended in that era, but unfortunately, we’ve seen people like them in this generation. Whereas many marriages are contracted, so too, the number of divorces recorded increases.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was not just telling a story of undying love. He was painting a picture of a fascinating but horrific lifestyle that usually ends in misery, loneliness, and death. He tries to capture his society perfectly by showing that people may appear to have it all, live carelessly, but end dissatisfied and deprived. In another novel, “Tender is the night,” Fitzgerald wrote about the same lavish and reckless lifestyle of the rich. These famous people in his society live carelessly and end up badly, broken, and useless.
Happiness, according to the author, is fickle, hollow, and dictated by status or the whims of society. So, Scott always tries to show that more meaning can be given to life other than pursuing selfish interests. The lesson in Scot’s novels is always genuine, relatable, and educating. In summary, the author wants to remind society that “Not all that glitters is gold.”