Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is based on the dreams of a man named Jay Gatsby. Throughout the novel, it is suggested to the reader that Gatsby is a symbol for America. He represents the possibilities of life on a level at which the material and the spiritual have been confused (Bewley 11). Gatsby’s dreams, lifestyle and sense of morality represent an American vision of life at which the reality ends and an illusion begins. First, to be an American means to have dreams. Gatsby is a dreamer, just like may Americans. All his dreams are based on one factor, Daisy Buchanan.
Most Americans, achieve their goal only we they are free. Anthony Burgess suggests that “Freedom is slavery”. When Gatsby realizes that he has lost her, his freedom to desire her makes him a slave to her. Since Gatsby is truly ambitious, he won’t stop until he “gets the girl”. To most Americans that is part of their American dream: to have a pretty girl. That is truly what Gatsby wants: to get the pretty girl who’s “voice is full of money”(Fitzgerald 127). In order for him to have a chance with Daisy, he needs to have money and the Great
American lifestyle. Nonetheless, the first step in getting the girl is to have the money. Gatsby luckily inherits money from a friend and joins the world of “bootlegging”. He gets all this and takes it a step further into the dream that Daisy wanted when she was with him. Gatsby’s new lifestyle included motorboats, aquaplanes, private beaches, Rolls Royces and water towers (Bewley 16). “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among whisperings and the champagne and stars” (Fitzgerald 43). Not only was
Gatsby very popular like most Americans want to be but he also had good clothing. Daisy became very emotional when Nick writes “He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many colored disarray” (Fitzgerald 97). Most important, we must ask ourselves if Gatsby, the American, has any kind of morality. Through the eyes of psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, Gatsby would have no sense of morality.
Kohlberg separated morality into three stages: preconventional, conventional, and post-conventional. Kohlberg would not believe that Gatsby has any morality because he is a man who only cared about getting money to have his girl. He did what he had to do but he did it illegally. Gatsby only really cared about Daisy and he was willing to take the blame for Myrtle’s accident only because it was the love of his life. Maybe Kohlberg would agree that he does have some kind of conventional morality since his reasoning is based on the xpectations of others for him to do the right thing.
As well as with many other Americans. Not many Americans reach the stage where they stand up for their own ethics and human rights. Beyond that, readers must also see if Gatsby’s American Dream was worthwhile. Even though he did get the money and the lifestyle, he never did get the girl. Gatsby was not able to achieve his one true goal, and as a consequence, he was killed. This happens to most Americans. Their dreams are crushed by others “conspiring together” (Fitzgerald 153). These other eople’s ambitions are always bigger than the victim.
In other cases the one’s who do reach their goals are criticized by others and either become snobs or become outcasts to the world. Who could actually live in such a horrible place? America is the place where dreams, lifestyles, and morals are only present in a few. Heartless people crush dreams, lifestyles are destroyed by green-eyed monsters, and morals exist in only in those who don’t have ambitions. It’s what Charles Darwin would call survival of the fittest, or only the strong survive.