The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a universal and timeless literary masterpiece. Fitzgerald writes the novel during his time, about his time, and showing the bitter deterioration of his time. A combination of the 1920s high society lifestyle and the desperate attempts to reach its illusionary goals through wealth and power creates the essence behind The Great Gatsby. Nick Carraway, the narrator, moves to a quaint neighborhood outside of New York City called West Egg; his distant cousin and his former colleague, Daisy and Tom, live in a physically identical district across the bay called East Egg.
The affluent couple quickly exposes Nick to the corrupting effect of wealth and materialism. He often serves as a sophisticated observer at several fashionable parties, yet he remains uninvolved in the hedonistic lifestyle. Jay Gatsby, the man who gives his name to the book, lives in an extraordinary estate adjacent to Nick, where he incessantly welcomes guests to sumptuous parties. Nick develops a fixation and a selfless devotion to Gatsby. Gatsby is a dreamer, absorbed by the past, and Nick reluctantly aids him in attempts to fulfill his ideal.
The impractical illusions, in the end, destroy Gatsby and lead Nick to see the ultimate manifestation of corrupt American society. In The Great Gatsby, greed and corruption centralize the theme. Fitzgerald uses the contemporary public as a core of life for his characters. Gatsby’s intent to win a love from his past by the display of lavish possessions results in annihilation. He was doomed from the beginning by his avaricious wishful thinking. Gatsby’s approach to attain his goal was encumbered by immoral manners.
The way he made money, tried to find love, and lived his life were all completely selfless, yet unjust. His bootlegging business earned him millions but also repelled everyone from his funeral. The countless years Gatsby worked to earn his fortune to win back his beloved abruptly ended with a decisive close. And the lavish parties with caterers, bartenders, and orchestras never drew his “golden girl” to the scene. The characters of The Great Gatsby are in constant search of their own identities—a second theme.
They think that the only ingredient to happiness is wealth and possession. At the beginning of the novel, certain images of the characters are embedded in the reader’s mind, but as each one approaches a goal, he or she becomes more absorbed in desire and shows a shocking change in temperament. When Nick went to Tom and Daisy’s house for dinner one evening at the beginning of the novel, Daisy attempted to make plans with Nick. She said, “What’ll we plan? What do people plan? (p. 25). ” She acts nave and innocent with no sense of independence.
Contradicting this episode, she kills a woman in a car accident and goes home to, literally, eat cold chicken. She is in constant dispute with herself; she truly has no idea of what to do, and her husband, Tom, has the same dilemma. Tom believes that his exterior belongings make him the “brute of a man (p. 25)” Daisy says he is. After Tom read the book The Rise of the Coloured Empires, he became violently angered by the threat of another race submerging the whites. This shows that even though Tom felt superior, he had inner self-doubt that he could be defeated which caused him to react with rage.
Both Tom and Daisy eventually discover the shameful history they have so carefully amassed yet are still unable to overcome their deceit and allow themselves to retreat back into their money and vast carelessness. A corrupting effect of wealth can easily be found among both the established rich people of East Egg and the newly rich residents of West Egg. The people of East Egg, such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan, have developed in a world of money and hold an empty future of purposelessness encompassed by assets.
On the other hand, the inhabitants of West Egg have worked their way up into the world of fortune, many dishonestly, but still hold the vulgarity they garner from their origin. The events that take place in East Egg promote conservatism and power; they are moderately low-key and quiet. Parties and lack of refinement, on the contrary, consume West Egg. When the plot is occurring in West Egg, the story is generally fast-paced; when the plot is occurring in East Egg, the tempo slows. The Great Gatsby takes place in the decade of the “Roarin’ Twenties”. Fitzgerald splendidly incorporates the truth behind the 1920s into his writing.
Looking back upon the decade, a spirited vision of dancing and merriment emerges. The high-class American society was in a state of celebration; World War I had finally came to closure. When asked about the purpose of life, Daisy replied, “I don’t know, but it has to do with money and lots of it (p. 96). ” The men and women of the 1920s were acting impulsively and foolishly. Regardless of how conceited one may seem, he or she secretly had no idea of what he or she was doing. The corrupt, immoral things the characters in The Great Gatsby do directly represent the high-society lifestyle of the 20’s.
The three main homes of the characters also greatly correspond with their place in society. Jay Gatsby lives in an enormous mansion, which housed a large Gothic library. Nick once observed the irrelevant quantity of books and how they had seemed never opened. Gatsby’s house was full of expensive, luxury items rarely used as anything more than opulent trimming. His house operated merely for parties—a characteristic of the newly rich. Tom’s estate, on the other hand, was a ravishing colonial manor. The furnishings were tasteful and pleasant. It suited the Buchanan established rich demeanor.
Nick lived in a middle-class house surrounded by mansions of the elite just as his ordinary lifestyle was intertwined with upper society. “There was a sharp line where my ragged lawn ended and the darker, well-kept expanse of his began (p. 78). ” Nick knew that he did not belong to the aristocratic community that he mingled with daily. People enjoyed Nick, and he enjoyed scrutinizing them. Eventually, Nick even grew weary of trying to understand the motives of others. The symbolism in The Great Gatsby plays an immense role in plot.
It binds the true significance of the story to the text. wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square (p. 24). ” Nick often makes reference to Tom physically controlling people. Here, and in many other illustrations, Fitzgerald uses symbolism for characterization purposes. More importantly, symbolism is used to further the understanding of the theme. In order to get in and out of the city, a train must be boarded; the train passes through an area referred to as the “valley of ashes”. Towering over the waste-land is a billboard with T. J.
Eckleburg looking over the land. George Wilson, the owner of a shabby garage shop in the valley of ashes, refers to the eyes on the billboard as the eyes of God. The valley of ashes symbolizes that the world has become an isolated desert consumed by the manufacture of wealth. God looks down aimlessly over this grotesque land, seeing his subjects worship money, and He no longer able to care. Nick, Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, and Jordan were all born in the west and moved east. This goes against the usual metaphorical move from east to west, as practiced by the first explorers of our country.
The east to west movement is often in search of serenity and utopia, while enduring the lack of luxury items. In The Great Gatsby, the movement to the east provokes an opposite affect. Life is generally thriving with possession, but omitting tranquility and morals. Fitzgerald’s ingenious concept of this now obvious truth is superbly incorporated into the text. Gatsby’s car ultimately connects the plot and theme together symbolically. It shows Gatsby’s material wealth and how glorious a life he must be living. Gatsby’s main initiative for wealth is to dazzle the woman with whom he has forever been in love.
As the conclusion draws closer, the vehicle becomes more significant. When Tom demands to drive Gatsby’s car leaving Gatsby to drive Tom’s vehicle, they switch personas. The affair becomes evident to Tom, and he reacts with vulgarity and irrationality. This is the behavior one would expect from new money. Acting as one from an established background, Gatsby remains calm, yet forcibly declares his righteousness. The primary symbolism of the car comes at the end. The car, of wealth and power, causes brutal devastation to each character in different ways.
In conclusion, The Great Gatsby is a morally and historically enlightening classic about the moral decline in the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgerald fabricated brilliant symbolic allusions in every line of writing. The book never loses meaning, for it comes from an unforgettable, real time period in American society. It is recommended for a person of any age, race, or gender who is interested in understanding a peculiar part of what the modern world has become. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby truly captures the essence of American literature.