Thoughts #3 – The Great ‘Great Gatsby’ Idea

Hello, peeps! I have read and come to love ‘The Great Gatsby’, what was most apparent to me was the corruption of the American Dream which is not as prevalent in the UK. I am also studying the text for English class so I thought I would formulate a few ideas I have into a piece of text. Feel free to share your any of your thoughts on the novel as well down below in the comments section and give this post a big thumbs up!

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In the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F.Scott Fitzgerald, the technique of symbolism is vital to the success of the text. The character Nick Carraway recounts his travels to Long Island during the summer of 1922 in order to make sense of the events he witnessed due to the corruption of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald utilises the title of the novel, ‘ The Great Gatsby” to symbolize the hollowness of Jay Gatsby, the enigmatic man who hosts lavish parties in the less fashionable West Egg. The title is a moniker of a showman, a magician whose acts deceives the audience. Thus Gatsby’s background which he has created for himself is founded on dishonesty. His greatness is measure by capital, albeit through criminal means as a bootlegger.

America at the time was enforcing prohibition, for Gatsby also the time of the ‘golden’ opportunity to make real his pursuit of wealth . The famous green light at the end of the Daisy Buchanan’s house was Fitzgerald’s attempt to use symbolism to distinguish wealth and greatness. The colour green is reminiscent of the color of the American dollar bill and represents the American Dream. Gatsby who succeeded in money-making, just as the successful image he envisioned himself to be, now desired more. The foul dust which trailed in the wake of his dream, the pursuit for reliving his previous relationship with Daisy five years before. However as Fitzgerald would characterize Gatsby later, he is the product of the corrupt American Dream. The dream that was once so pure has now become the reason for the casual destruction, cyclical violence and decaying social values. Just as the chase for Daisy’s hand is meaningless, so is following the now distorted American Dream. The dazzling light which embodied Gatsby’s dreams for the future beckons to Gatsby in the night like a vision of the fulfillment of his dreams. A false hope for those attempting to succeed regardless of their social class.

Daisy, as well as being Gatsby’s sole objective, spending vast sums of money and meticulously planning details for extravagant parties in hopes of attracting Daisy back to his side. Everything about Daisy is depicted by Fitzgerald to be revolved around money. Her voice is described as ‘full of money’ by Gatsby. Her name is of a white flower, representing purity and the yellow at the core of her characterization, stands for her materialistic nature as gold is also the colour of money. She lives in the more fashionable West Egg, along with the wealthy, high social status and the powerful dominate the American social landscape.

An undermining theme is the image of alcohol and water as symbolism for the unrealistic American Dream. Fitzgerald saturates the novel in alcohol as Gatsby is responsible for the illegal retail of alcohol, key events observed by Carraway are blurred under influence. The ‘sound’ of water which separates the two Eggs and consequently Gatsby and Daisy, anecdotes of sailing with Dan Cody and the New York which was founded by Dutch explorers join to convey Gatsby metaphorically ‘drowning’ in to the abyss known as the American Dream. Gatsby’s unfathomable determination for Daisy stems from Achilles heel, ‘his extraordinary gift for hope’. The hope changed his eternal fate which was for him destined to stay as ‘unlucky farmers’ like his parents. It also brought around his downfall, his hope to turn back time, go back to the time of reference in the past seen from him accidentally knocking over a clock. During his long sought after reunion with Daisy, Gatsby is ironically awkward and clumsy, symbolizing his failure to live in the past.

Fitzgerald draws up on an idea from Homer’s Odyssey, mythological creatures aesthetically beautiful with lyrical voices, sirens. He compares their heartlessness to Daisy, reinforcing their sounds by using precise framing of her voice whenever she speaks. Carraway almost unable to pinpoint what it stands for until Gatsby’s remark which relates it to money. Like naïve sailors drawn in by their harmonious singing, Gatsby too, joins them to their eventual watery death. Daisy draws Gatsby in by misleading him in feeling mutual love.

The great tragedy of Gatsby is his inability to use his knowledge of Daisy’s shallowness to give up his pursuit. He, who originated as a Mid West man has thrown away his traditional moral values for mainstream meaningless hedonism, valuing money over morals. Ironically the alcohol business which has given Gatsby courage to approach Daisy once again has become his fatal flaw, Daisy seeks for stability, most importantly by means of materialism. Revelation of his bootlegger career saw Daisy “staring terrified” at Gatsby, in her eyes he was not even a previous lover of a casual relationship any longer but the figure of crime.

Through Gatsby, Fitzgerald explores the nobility to keep one’s head above water even despite the almost certainty of drowning. The forces of water oppose Gatsby’s desires ‘boats against current’ as his predecessors. It drags Gatsby down as he dives deep into his dreams, the American Dream and fights to keep afloat. The American Dream is reason for his failure, men are constantly striving for success stretching further to satisfy those wants. Gatsby brought himself to ruins his “platonic conception of himself” symbolized by “son of God”. It was not nearly enough for Daisy to love Gatsby, she was obliged by him to say she never loved her husband Tom Buchanan, “I love you now ,isn’t that enough?”. She was an unattainable “grail” during his noble quest.

America is defined as the land of opportunities and of the free. It’s lack of a historical federal system made everyone equal in life, a large contrast to their European counterparts. As it is, however where there are populations, there are social class and America, and same for all organisms. America’s class is less dictated by birth but of money. It is essential to society, money equates to ownership of power and tangible items. The East Egg people are careless beings, ‘old money’ stood for ancestral inheritance not through hard work. Daisy’s careless does not allow her to cope with the burden to focus on monogamy or relationship with Gatsby. It is overwhelming for her to-day she only ever loved Gatsby. Perhaps the reason Gatsby and Daisy had a romantic connection is they have both designed a personal façade tailored to their situations. Gatsby wished to be one of the chosen, God’s son, destined to do great things. Daisy buries her emotional trauma of dealing with Tom’s countless extramarital affairs behind her apparent fleeting personality. In part, Daisy agrees to the affair temporarily to anger Tom for his immoral ways, she does not see past the glittering surface of his army officer uniform five years ago and now unable to see past the enormously wealth tycoon, Jay. She fails at her role of a mother to her young daughter, Pammy whom is only ever mentioned once by her name and never fully introduced, she highlights the extent of neglect of altruism:

“I hope she will be a fool, that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a pretty little fool.”

Daisy makes this remark which further demonstrates her shallowness, she weaves hints of women’s role in society, only to be aesthetically pleasing for men, being unaware of situations prevents her from getting hurt. Her selfishness is not of a mother’s quality. Pammy is treated as an object ,only to act as the last strand connecting her parents. Tom is a hypocritical “cruel body” with “a supercilious manner “, he criticizes Daisy’s affair.

See you next time,

Jiangmin

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