The Great Gatsby
The Lack of Justice and Karma in The Great Gatsby
Good people are not always rewarded, and people who commit felonies and do wrong are not always punished. Imagine a man who tries to be nice, honest, and friendly. One night police end up at your door and you are suddenly the suspect for your friends’ murder. This is sadly the case for James Driskell (Howe). In September of 1990 his friend, Perry Harder, was shot in the chest several times. A year later James was convicted to a lifetime in prison.
The evidence the police had for the crime were 3 hairs on Harder’s chest that apparently belonged to Mr. Driskell. Later tests revealed that those 3 hairs did not belong to Mr. Driskell.
A few years later he was released from prison (Howe). This man deserved no punishments, yet he has to go through his friends’ death and go to prison for a crime he never committed. The absence of justice and karma is clear. As J.R.R. Tolkien said “Many that live deserve death.
And some that die deserve life.” (J.R.R Tolkien, 77) In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the absence of karma and justice is evident, and alters the punishments the characters should have faced. Jay Gatsby has pure intentions, and even though some things he did are considered wrong, his punishments are too severe and don’t fit the crime because he paid the ultimate consequence and was killed.
George Wilson is a good person. He has been good all his life, yet he is punished severely with the death of his wife, and his own life. Tom has the worst personality and morals of any other character in the novel, yet he gets away with minimal consequences. Karma is an idea people thought of to encourage good behaviour, and live peacefully. In reality people have to enforce the law and give deserved punishments because karma is scarce in society and the conclusion to The Great Gatsby.
Sometimes good people do bad things. In the novel Jay Gatsby is a good person, who has pure intentions. Even though he does some bad things like illegally sell bootlegged alcohol to make his fortune, he is doing it to win back Daisy and not for evil means. Gatsby is pure at heart, even though he sold illegal alcohol in his stores he is still a good person. It is proven that Gatsby is pure at heart because he went and fought in the Great War, and won many valour medals. Before he left for the war he was in love with Daisy and vice versa. When he returned she had married Tom and all Gatsby ever wanted was her reciprocated love. Even though he earned his fortune through illegal means, it was for a pure cause. He just wanted Daisy back. Even though Gatsby did some bad things he was still a good person at the end because he wasn’t doing them for evil reasons, he was just trying to win Daisy back from Tom.
Gatsby did not deserve the punishment he received. It was far too harsh a punishment and he paid the ultimate price, his life. Even though Gatsby was a man with pure intentions, he earned his fortune through bootlegging alcohol, which is illegal. When Tom confronts Gatsby about his bootlegging business Gatsby does not deny it. Tom discovered that Gatsby “bought up a lot of side-street drug stores… and sold grain alcohol over the counter” (Fitzgerald, 127). Gatsby’s business had been discovered, yet he never tried to defend himself and was calm throughout the whole ordeal. This is because Gatsby was selling illegal alcohol to win Daisy and not for another evil purpose. The same idea can be portrayed with putting a pet down. The owner of a pet will not feel guilty about putting their pet down, because it is to keep the pet from suffering.
If the owner accidently kills or harms the pet they will feel terrible and guilty because they didn’t have good intentions. Gatsby may have deserved some form of punishment, but the punishment he received was too severe. He paid the ultimate price, his life. When Nick sees Gatsby dead he says “the holocaust was complete” (Fitzgerald 114). Gatsby’s death is the completion of pure people with good intentions dying. Like the holocaust, Gatsby’s death cannot be the product of karma because he never did anything to deserve it, like the victims of the holocaust. Real life lacks karma as much as the conclusion to The Great Gatsby does, and this leads to an unfit ending to the story. Gatsby isn’t the only character who is unjustly punished.
George Wilson is a tertiary character who appears in the novel several times. George was pure at heart, worked hard for his money, and loved his wife unconditionally, yet he still is unjustly punished. Even though he is one of the kindest and purest characters in the novel he is punished several times, each punishment being worse than the last one. The fact that Wilson never gets rewarded, even though he is the best character morally in the novel, proves there is a lack of justice and karma in the conclusion to The Great Gatsby. Wilson is the purest character in the novel. Not only was he hard working and loving, he was also honest, which is a rare trait in the characters of the novel. Wilson clearly loves his wife unconditionally because he falls ill when he learns she is having an affair.
“Karma was the root cause of failure in every aspect of life” (Sha, 231) for Wilson. He believed that if he did good acts, and was a good person he would be rewarded. He was mistaken. Instead of being rewarded Wilson is punished several times for no apparent reason. Firstly he learns that his wife is having an affair with someone. This knowledge makes him physically ill. Wilsons’ neighbour Michaelis “found Wilson sick in his office…Michaelis advised him to go to bed, but Wilson refused, saying that he’d miss a lot of good business” (Fitzgerald 130). Wilson is showing how perseverant he is when he tries to work even though he is physically ill because he wants to make money for his wife. Secondly his wife, who he loves without restraint, is hit by a car and killed.
This sends him into delirium and Wilson goes crazy. He “learns” that it was Gatsby who was driving the car, and in his delirious state he kills Gatsby, then himself. The punishments of losing his wife, then himself, and then finding death are punishments that are far too severe for the type of person Wilson is. Even though Wilson is a hard worker and did everything honestly and through legal means he is still punished. Wilson was pure at heart, honest, loving, and hard working, and yet he is still punished severely in ways that no human should experience. Wilson is proof that justice and karma do not play a part in the conclusion, leading to an unfit ending to the story. This isn’t the only proof that the ending to The Great Gatsby lacks karma and justice, as many people who deserve to be punished are not.
Tom Buchanan is arguably the worst character in The Great Gatsby. He is selfish, morally corrupt, dishonest, and hypocritical. Even though Tom displays all these characteristics throughout the novel he is barely punished. Tom is a terrible person. He is morally atrocious, and does whatever he wants. He is childish and gets what he wants because he is rich, and can buy his way out of punishment. The knowledge that he will not be punished lets Tom do a variety of things that are wrong. He has an affair with the wife of an honest acquaintance and he abuses illegal substances, and he does all these things without the slightest hesitation. While Nick is talking to Tom “he felt suddenly as if [he] was talking to a child” (Fitzgerald, 170). Tom doesn’t understand why Nick is angry with him, he is angry because of all the things Tom has done, he becomes even angrier because Tom is barely punished.
Tom is a terrible person, who deserves severe punishment for the way he acts, and is, yet he doesn’t receive a punishment severe enough. Tom commits a variety of social crimes that go unpunished. The one punishment he does receive isn’t a valid punishment for his crimes, and also affects a good man, Wilson. Tom’s one punishment throughout the entire novel is that his lover, Myrtle, is killed as a result of recklessness and drunk driving. Tom is clearly saddened by this as he loved her. “The god damned coward! … He didn’t even stop his car” (Fitzgerald, 135). In a few pages he seems perfectly fine with Daisy. He believes that Gatsby killed Myrtle even though it was truly Daisy. He was sad for a few moments but he recovers unreasonably fast for the punishment to be considered large enough for his actions.
Even though he has a punishment for his rotten morality, the punishment also punished Wilson much worse, who has no reason to be punished. Myrtles death affects Wilson much more than Tom, making him sick and throwing him into a delirious state. Even though Tom was punished, his punishment is far too lenient, and he deserves a punishment that is much more severe. What makes his punishment even less severe is the fact that it affects Wilson, a man who should not have been punished at all. The absence of karma and justice in the conclusion of the novel is clear because even though Tom is a childish, irresponsible, horrible adult, his punishment is of too little magnitude for karma to be at play. The absence of karma in society is evident. This is why people like cops and detectives have to take the roll of karma and enforce the law, because karma and justice is not natural and won’t occur by itself.
The conclusion to The Great Gatsby is unfitting because good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Even though the conclusion portrays how society works, it is still unsavoury and unfair. Some characters in the novel face punishments that are much too severe, while others face almost no punishments at all, when even death may have been a valid consequence. The lack of karma and justice in the novel proves the lack of karma and justice in society. Those who work hard, are honest, and nice people may not get the recognition they deserve, while those who are lazy, corrupt, and evil may get recognition they don’t deserve.
This is evident throughout all the civilizations that humans have had, corrupt kings are seen as heroes, while the good citizens don’t get any recognition. William Shakespeare explores this ideology in his play Macbeth. Macbeth is a tyrant, who kills the king for his own personal gain. People see him as a hero. Banquo who is an honest man is killed by Macbeth, and people forget about him. Macbeth was written in 1606, proving that throughout all of history, justice and karma does not occur naturally and it is almost non-existent in societies. In The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald helps prove that what goes around, may not come back around.
Dugdale, David. “Delirium.” PubMed Health. PubMed Health, 16 2012. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001749/>. Howe, Geoff. “Canada’s wrongful convictions.” CBC News Canada. CBC, 14 2010. Web. 15 Dec 2012. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2009/08/06/f-wrongfully-convicted.html>. . “Justice Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Brainy Quote. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/justice.html>. . “Macbeth Background.” Higher Bitesize. BBC. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/higher/english/macbeth/background/revision/1/>. . “Quotes about Justice.” GoodReads. N.p., 098 2012. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/justice>. . “Tertiary Characters.” The Infosphere. The Infosphere, 21 2010. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://theinfosphere.org/Category:Tertiary_characters>. . ” ZHI GANG SHA quotes.” Search Quotes. Search Quotes. Web. 16 Dec 2012. <http://www.searchquotes.com/quotation/Karma_is_the_root_cause_of_success_and_failure_in_every_aspect_of_life./390829/>.
Nick Carraway, the narrator and important character in the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is deeply characterized through what he says, thinks, and is seen as by others. Many different perspectives of Nick are evident throughout the novel. He is judged and characterized by himself, his friends, and other strangers that he meets in the novel. Fitzgerald uses more dialogue to characterize Nick than other mediums. In the beginning of the book, on the first page, Nick himself declares that he is the narrator of the book.
He states that he is “inclined to reserve all judgements” (Fitzgerald 1) because he has had many advantages which the average person would not have had. This is the first bit of character that we see developed in Nick’s character. He is not quick to judge people simply because he knows that if he was, he would be trying to understand a life which has not been a part of him.
It could also mean that Nick is conscious of what other people tell him, because his father told him “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald 1).
Clearly, Nick is an observant person based on the fact that the novel is narrated in such great detail by him. “Every friday five crates of lemons and oranges arrived from a fruiterer in New York—every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves” (Fitzgerald 39). Nick is super observant, as observations just as detailed as that are told on most every page in the novel. Nick is not always as forgiving and understanding as he claims in the beginning of the novel, however. There are times, although only a few, when Nick is judgemental towards others.
One quote stands out as a popular, recognizable line that Nick says on page 160. “‘They’re a rotten crowd,’ I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together’” (Fitzgerald 160). This quote is an indirect insult and criticism toward the neighbors and residents who attended a party at Gatsby’s house. He shouts this to Gatsby after talking about Gatsby’s past and how he ended up where he is now. Nick can be characterized in that quote as being either extremely appreciative of Gatsby or being extremely judgemental of the crowd at the party.
Likely both, Nick is going against what he said about himself in the beginning of the novel, which also says that he sometimes makes false statements. Fitzgerald also uses physical descriptions to characterize Nick. “Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn” (Fitzgerald 41). Although not much is described, only his clothes that night, we can still see character development within that description. The fact that he’s wearing simple, white flannels, although fancy and expensive, are also very neutral and humble.
Even though West Egg is considered to be “New Money”, Nick is more observant and in the background. It seems as though he would rather watch something than be watched by something. He could have worn flagrant colors and flaunted himself, but he chose to do the opposite. Another somewhat physical description of Nick is that he’s not a city-born character. He was born in Minnesota, not New York, and because of this, it could be implied that he grew up in a simpler place, where it did not matter what you wore or looked like.
This can be considered while characterizing Nick’s physical traits. Fitzgerald exemplifies Nick’s characteristics in multiple ways throughout the novel. The evidence Fitzgerald provides for the reader is clearly given and shows how Nick is not always what he wishes he could be from a personality standpoint. What Fitzgerald did to show the different sides of Nick’s character is a major reason he is considered among the top American novelists; and The Great Gatsby is by far his best work.
The Great Gatsby – Dichotomy Illusion vs Reality
This is an age old theme in literature. Illusion / Reality is known as a “dichotomy,” which means two terms that are opposite to each other, but which create an interpretive tension. Literature is filled with dichotomies, and authors use them to create meaning: light / dark; good / evil; war/ peace; male / female; life / death. There are hundreds of them. A very effective way to understand and interpret literature is to locate the different dichotomies, and try to understand why the author is using them.
So Fitzgerald uses the dichotomy of Illusion / Reality throughout the entire novel. In context of the issue of money, Fitzgerald shows a world in which wealth creates veils darker human nature. The beautiful mansions hide ugliness inside. The same holds true for people. Although Jordan Baker is beautiful and outgoing, she reveals herself bit-by-bit to be uncaring and ruthless. Centrally, Daisy Buchanan is beautiful, vivacious, friendly and elegant. She comes across to the reader as being a positive and attractive person.
But as the novel progresses, Daisy manifests her carelessness, selfishness and apathy. Finally, at the end of the novel, she not only lets Gatsby take the fall for murder, but flees the east coast with Tom without a return address, so to speak. Jay Gatsby encapsulates the dichotomy of illusion / reality the most. His whole “aristocratic” pose is a front for his criminal operations. His slight British accent is feigned. In the first few chapters of the novel, Gatsby remains a mysterious figure.
We only hear snippets of information about him from various people that may or may not be trues, such as: he is friends with the Kaiser; he killed a man once when he was young; he went to Oxford; he inherited piles of money from German descendants. In fact, we never know the complete truth about Gatsby, except for the story of his life he tells both Jordan and, later, Nick, and Myers Wolfsheim’s story of how Gatsby came to the underworld (which may, ironically, be the only truthful story about him). Notice how in many of the “party” scenes, at one moment the party looks glamorous, and the next it looks cruel and tawdry.
Reflective Statement The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is said to be one of the greatest American novels of the last century, not only for it’s tale of hope and disillusion, but also for the way it portrayed the spirit of the 1920s.
The information from the presentations made me realize that the characters in the story weren’t just any upperclass; they were the social and cultural upperclass of the world.
The presentations also made me develop my understanding of the background of their arrogant and lavish behavior.
They were born into the old elite and were stupendously rich in the wealthiest country in the world. They lived extravagant lives in a careless post-war time with mass media covering their lives in the tabloids. Another factor that contributed to this feeling of being superior must have been the lack of authorities and strong politicians. As the economy ran itself and the politicians were incompetent, the cultural elite were literally on top of the world. They distanced themselves from institutions and history and lived their lives in a social bubble, respecting only those who were a part of their class.
The dream of being famous and glamourous bloomed in the 1920s and was distributed to the public through the mass media. The dream was available for everyone, and people strived to become a part of the cultural elite. The main characters in The Great Gatsby were already there, as a natural part of the scene. They lived luxurious and careless lives, following the latest trends, listening to the new music and attending extravagant parties.
From the presentations I also learned about modernist literature. A significant trait of this genre is the break with traditions and the search for an absolute truth and a meaning of life elsewhere. The upperclass seemed to have lost their meaning in life in their extravagant lifestyle. Previously I had not given the social context too much thought, and without the information from the presentations, I may would just have seen the tragic love story of the book, and not how the book is a picture of and a comment to the 1920s life.
Great Gatsby: The Age of Wonderful Nonsense
Imagine you were a young woman in the 1920s. World War I is finally over, and you are lucky enough to have survived the horrors of the war, you returned home, live your life to the fullest. You are part of enormous social and economical changes; you gained the right to vote, you date, wear make-up, indulge in reckless parties, the consumer culture thrives; ideals and morals greatly shift. You are now able to dress, talk and walk like your male counterparts.
You drive cars, smoke, and even drink in public. In other words, you are liberated in any possible way and part of a new rebellious generation. You are the so called Flapper of the Jazz Age.
Altogether, one might nowadays jump to the conclusion that it must have been an exciting, breathtaking, and thrilling time in history. Indeed, the two quintessential documents of the Roaring Twenties; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, do show this incredible side of the period.
However, they also bear witness to the fact that there is as well, another, more gloomy and dark side to it. There is more to this than meets the eye. The term the Lost Generation was coined in order to explain that it was more difficult than expected to return to normalcy. Moreover, the young men and women who experienced the war become morally lost and could no longer rely on tradition. They lived meaningless lives and the empty pursuit of pleasure was just an escape from reality. They were emotional cripples, who suffered trauma and were no longer able to
trust, love or respect each other:
They found themselves expected to settle down into the humdrum routine of American life as if nothing had happened, to accept the moral dicta of elders who seemed to them still to be living in a Pollyanna land of rosy ideals which the war had killed for them. They couldn’t do it, and they very disrespectfully said so. (Allen)
Both Hemingway, and Fitzgerald document the enormous economical and social changes which take place and introduce the reader to typical Flapper characters in their works; Lady Brett Ashley, Daisy Buchanan, and Jordan Baker represent the common attitude of the time. At first glance, the reader often judges them to be rather shallow, careless, foolish, bored, seductive, craving sensation, even neurotic women. But, if one looks deeper into their personalities; one can see that there is more behind that and it becomes clear that such a narrow view and judgment of their characters is far too simplistic and that they , actually , do care. Certainly, Fitzgerald and Hemingway constantly provide the reader with details which make it hard to deny that these women are not indifferent, unworthy, selfish.
One finds out that Daisy seems to be totally indifferent to her little daughter, not being at all a devoted and caring mother. Still, the words she says after giving birth to her baby girl are somehow intriguing:
“Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ’All right’, I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” (Fitzgerald 17)
In fact, here Daisy shows that she is vulnerable to emotions, she is not shallow, indeed, she has been hurt and suffered in the past. Her wish for her daughter to become such a “fool” sounds harsh, cruel, but it is a desire to protect her from experiencing the bitter pain that Daisy herself seems to have known too well.
Jordan Baker seems to be just as unable to feel and express strong emotions, as Daisy. She is beautiful, charming, and charismatic. Nick observes that she is “incurably dishonest”, still he somehow is attracted to her and she makes him curious:
The bored haughty face that she turned to the world concealed something—most affectations conceal something eventually, even though they don’t in the beginning—(Fitzgerald 58)
This quotation suggests that Jordan is not a stock character, there are reasons why she behaves the way she does, and we cannot judge her for her cold cynical attitude because she ,obviously has gone through pain in her life and just like Daisy wants to shelter herself from further pain or disappointment. The reader wonders what could possibly have happened to a woman who is ready to go out on a date just hours after the tragedy of Myrtle being killed. It is evidence that she is deeply affected.
Furthermore, Daisy is characterized by Nick as a careless person who smashes things up and then retreats behind her money. We are able to see it best when she chooses to leave town together with Tom, immediately after the accident, not saying a word and leaving Gatsby behind, even though he took all the blame on him. Still, Daisy loved Gatsby. After he went to war she stopped socializing and waited for over a year for him to come back. If she never cared for him, or never had any true feelings, she would not do so. In addition, the reader sees the way she looks at Gatsby after their reunion; she admires him verbally and cannot keep her hands off him. Now, why then she chooses to marry Tom and leave Gatsby behind? :
Backed against the wall, she ultimately chooses Tom, though she knows that neither can meet her needs by himself. Tom cannot satisfy her expectations of romantic devotion, and Gatsby, who made his fortune illegally, cannot meet her need for stability and social respectability. Daisy’s insistence that she loved them both is honest—she loved Gatsby in a romantic way, and she loved Tom in a more practical way. (Fryer)
Daisy craves for stability and a certain structure in life, something Tom as being “old money” can, and Gatsby and his “new money”, never will be able to offer her.
Hemingway’s typical Flapper character, Lady Brett Ashley is an independent, charming, strong woman who cuts her hair short and has an almost magical power over all male characters in the novel. The Sun Also Rises seems to be an endless hedonistic party. They do nothing but indulge in alcohol, sex, food, bullfighting, siestas. Life is sheer bliss. However, nobody seems to be happy. Brett has been a nurse on the Italian front and the war took the life of her first love. It is hard to even imagine what kind of scenes she was exposed to every single day on the battlefield. The war and the formation of her character must be connected:
….she survives the colossal violence, the disruption of her personal life, and the exposure to mass promiscuity, to confront a moral and emotional vacuum among her postwar lovers. With this evidence of male default all around her, she steps off the romantic pedestal, moves freely through the bars of Paris, and stands confidently there beside her newfound equals… But stoic or not, they are all incapable of love, and in their sober moments they seem to know it…together they form a pair of honest cripples. (Spilka)
Brett and the others are all young people who no longer believe in anything, and how could they? The hedonistic society is the only escape for them, the only way not to think about the horrible images which are burnt into their memories.
Brett is very much aware of the fact that she is able to ruin the young and energetic bullfighter Pedro Romero. She does not want to be “one of those bitches who ruins children”, here she finally seems to be moral, she admits that she cannot live with a man, without destroying him. Exactly this kills the illusion that she and Jake would have become true lovers, if only he had not been wounded and had not lost his manhood in war. The closing lines are proof for this disillusionment:
“Oh, Jake, “Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”… “Yes, I said, “Isn’t it pretty to think so? “ (Hemingway 287).
These lines confirm that Jake realizes how this is a lie, and to consider that it could have happened, is simply, absurd. They would still be this emotionally impotent people. Love is dead for their generation and it was inevitable to become that way after the shocks of the war.
All in all, yes, it is true that the 1920s were exciting, breathtaking, thrilling times, but there is more to this than meets the eye- the Lost Generation and their shattered dreams, moral values and beliefs. Many would claim that the Flapper attitude, their reckless lifestyle and behavior, was unbearable and tend to blame women such Daisy, Jordan or Brett because they were given all these privileges their unliberated mothers and grandmothers never were. They should have been happy to have survived the war and focus on more positive goals instead of living empty lives.
The truth is that they all are disillusioned and desperately crave for a sense of security. Perhaps they deserve more pity than blame. And, even though these women seem to be superficial, they are, actually caring. The perception of the world became a different one and their behavior is a natural impulse in order to protect themselves. Finally, the opening words of The Great Gatsby express in a wonderful way that one should never judge people until one has walked a mile in their shoes and look at the other side of the coin from time to time.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “ just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had. (Fitzgerald 1)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970.
Frederick Lewis Allen. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1931. 94.
Spilka, Mark. “The Death of Love in The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway.” A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Robert P. Weeks. New York: Chelsea, 1987. 127-138.
Fryer, Sarah Beebe. “Beneath the Mask: The Plight of Daisy Buchanan.” Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984. 153-166.
Great Gatsby Final Paper on Feminism
In his timeless novel The Great Gatsby, author Francis Scott Fitzgerald draws attention to the irrational nature of women and the effect it had on their lives during the 1920s. The female characters in the novel tend to irresponsibly think with their hearts rather than with their heads. Time and again, this way of the thinking leads these women to a life of unhappiness and insecurity. Fitzgerald utilizes tools such as paradox and imagery to effectively display the negative consequences of their choices.
Fitzgerald’s purpose is to emphasize the true sufferings of women caused by their own lack of reason. He establishes a candid tone throughout the novel in order to demonstrate to readers that the true source of the emptiness and sorrow felt by women in the 1920’s does not come from the men in their lives, but from their own incoherence.
Fitzgerald primarily uses paradox as a strategy that best exemplifies the irrational behavior and decisions women in the novel make.
Early on in the novel, Jay Gatsby hosts grand parties at his home hoping to one day lure Daisy, the woman he is madly in love with, back into his life. Most women attend Gatsby’s parties not because they are friends with him, nor because they were invited, but instead to have a carefree time at a stranger’s expense. Jordan regularly attends these extravaganzas at Gatsby’s home; she confesses to Nick one night, “’I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.’”
Her statement associates grandness with privacy and security, and smaller affairs with loneliness and discomfort. Jordan demonstrates the senseless thinking of many women of the era. They feel the need to be surrounded by strangers and indulge in the finest of things in order to feel intimate or secure. These gatherings are one way women fill the emptiness in their souls. They drink their pain away, dance off their fears, and gossip incessantly. These females are blinded by the spotlight given to them at these affairs. Wealth is mistaken for security as attention is for love. In the same way, Daisy loses the voice of reason in her own life when she marries Tom for his wealth despite being madly in love with Gatsby.
The day before her wedding, Daisy is described to be “lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress-and as drunk as a monkey” (76). Fitzgerald’s use of paradox exemplifies the struggle Daisy is facing. Although it is her wedding day, and she looks beautiful, the discontent she feels is obvious. Fitzgerald strategically employs paradox to portray the insecurity and despair the women of West Egg feel throughout their lives. Furthermore, Fitzgerald demonstrates the pain of women through his use of imagery.
At the first party Nick attends, he witnesses a woman, who although dressed beautifully, and surrounded by glamour, is visibly in misery. She “had drunk a quantity of champagne, and during the course of her song, she had decided, ineptly, that everything was very, very sad” (pg.51) This vivid description of the woman represents the pain felt by many women during this time period, and wealth’s inability heal it. In the same way, Fitzgerald uses imagery to shed light on Daisy’s unhappiness after her marriage to Tom. Gatsby describes Daisy’s life as a single woman as innocent and pure.
Fitzgerald uses color imagery to exemplify this. She owned a white car, lived in a home described as a “high white palace” and lived what Gatsby thought was a “white girlhood”. The use of color imagery emphasizes the purity before she was corrupted by the idea that one could marry for money and still be happy. This use of color imagery once again acknowledges the senseless decisions women made during this time period, and the despairity that backfires on them because of these choices. In the Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays women as irrational in their thinking, behaviors, and actions. This senselessness is supported by the lifelong insecurity and loneliness the women feel as a result of their actions.
Great Gatsby Coming of Age Novel
The unique the Excellent Gatsby isn’t your classical maturing novel a minimum of for the a lot of part. This is because Nick Caraway is the only character who in fact winds up changing by the end of the book. Furthermore maturing novels refer to a character(s) that pass the rite of passage in order to go into manhood or womanhood. Therefore this novel is about the development of maturity.
The story starts with Nick participating in supper at the Buchannan home.
Nick was at first very amazed and interested with the beauty, glamour, and wealth of Daisy and Tom. This can be seen in the quote “Their house was even more elaborate than I expected” (Fitzgerald, pg.6). This point of view is oblivious and is uninformed of the stating “it’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside. However this perspective significantly altered by the end of the book.
By the end of the novel Nick can no longer even bare to stand the sight of Tom or Daisy, let alone shake their hands.
This is best seen with the quote “What’s the matter, Nick? Do you challenge shaking hands with me? Yes. You understand what I consider you.” This is since Tom informed Mr. Wilson to go and kill Gatsby because he had actually been the individual driving the cars and truck. In addition he can’t stand Daisy since even though she liked Gatsby she retreated behind Tom and let Gatsby take the hit for her. This resulted in Gatsby’s death and later his funeral to which neither Daisy nor Tom went to.
The strongest representation of Nick’s growing maturity is the fact that he realises that Tom and Daisy are both weak and gutless people. This understanding was only obtained when Nick looked for what was on the “inside”. The quote “They are careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” is really powerful and Fitzgerald is warning others about people who are like this.
The novel The Great Gatsby may not be a coming of age novel but it is a pretty darn good book about growing in maturity, following your dreams, and fighting for love. Unfortunately Nick is the only character who actually realised this and learned from it.
The Great Gatsby – Really Great
The Great Gatsby is a classic tale that has been interpreted very differently throughout time. One prominent source of constant debate lies in the main character, Jay Gatsby. In the novel’s title, Gatsby is misleadingly referred to as being “great”. However, the events that transpire within the novel paint a very different picture of this man. Despite the title of his story, Jay Gatsby is dishonorable, immoral, a phony, and is, in fact, very far from greatness. To elaborate, when Gatsby meets Daisy, he loses sight of his true ambition.
Gatsby ends up transforming himself in order to please Daisy, the love of his life.
His actions could be seen as admirable if it were not for the fact that Daisy was a ridiculously shallow and ignorant woman. Originally, Gatsby was a man with high standards for himself and his future. Unfortunately, being a person who was most familiar with the lifestyle of the working class, he was easily lost in the glamour of Daisy’s rich, extraordinary life.
When they develop a relationship, he finds an opportunity to take part in the exclusive high society of America and takes advantage of it: “eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand” (Fitzgerald 156).
Daisy was in love with Gatsby partially because he allowed her to believe that, financially, he was her equal. Under false pretenses, Gatsby takes Daisy’s virginity simply because he can. In an examination of The Great Gatsby, Tony McAdams pushes the novel as an attempt by its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, to suggest “that the American Dream lies in the limitless possibilities in being human while warning of the risks in losing sight of those possibilities in the glare of wealth and its accoutrements” (McAdams 117).
Gatsby is the prime example of a person disregarding whatever morals he might have had, in order to pursue Daisy, his own personal American Dream. Consequently, his actions were reprehensible, not great. Gatsby also showed himself to be a generally dishonest person. Daisy was married to a man named Tom. By trying to win her affections Gatsby is, in turn, adamantly trying to get Daisy to cheat on her husband. On top of this, when Gatsby’s persistent chase for Daisy is brought to his attention, Tom looks into Gatsby’s past, and “reveal[s] him [Gatsby] as a liar and a riminal” (Stocks 2).
Tom investigates Gatsby and announces that he is connected to various under-the-table dealings such as bootlegging, and betting. It later becomes clear that there is some substance to his accusations. In the end, Gatsby was shot and killed as an indirect result of his deceptiveness. Gatsby lead an immoral, deceitful life, most likely believing that the end would justify the means. Ironically, his death served to prove a very different theory; that what a person reaps is what he sows.
Is Gatsby's Dream Defeated by Nothing More Than Time Itself?
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F.Scott Fitzgerald have set up in his novel “The Great Gatsby” the different views of how “ultimately, Gatsby’s dream is defeated by nothing more nor less than Time itself.”, such as Gatsby’s inability to diffrentiate between reality and illusion and his build-up of unrealistic dreams. However, there are also other ways in which his dream can be defeated, other than time itself. The significance and importance of the presence of time as well as other significant factors are both heightened by Fitzgerald’s skillful use of range of key techniques such as symbolism, metaphors, foreshadowing, characterisation to effectively convey the extension of my agreement towards whether or not Gatsby’s dream is defeated by time.
Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s inability to distinguish between reality and illusion to speak of the defeat of his dream through Gatsby’s ideal persona and through the act of his house as a metaphor. Gatsby’s downfall seems to be result of his inablity to see through and beyond illusions- especially when “he sprang from his platonic conception of himself.
” We can see that it’s the attempt itself and the firm belief that he can achieve the impossible that is more than the sum of his reality. Gatsby conforms to the ideal of himself that can transform reality to possibility.
Therefore, using this to his advantage Gatsby ha crafted Daisy into the ideal woman that he wishes her to be. Fitzgerald writes: “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams–not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.” As a reader, we can all recognise that Daisy is only a regular, rich western girl. However, because Gatsby has made her more perfect than she actually is in his imagination,this suggests that the “colossal vitality of his illusions” of Gatsby, the idealized version of himself is what thrown him into the idea that Daisy is perfect. By doing this, I think that Fiztgerald intends to critisize how people in the 1920s blindly giving meaning to the idealism of the American Dream, as much as Gatsby is trying to give as much perfection to his own love, Daisy.
Furthermore, another idea of illusion present in Gatsby is his “failure, incoherent of a house.” By describing his house as a failure and by using the word “incoherent”, the mansion is suggestive of the measure of failure of the democratic ideals. For many years, Gatsby presented his house with demoractic ordeals to enhance his aristocratic image and wealth. Therefore by doing this, Gatsby has hidden away traces of himself which further deepens his illusions and driven him to live in it, as much as his house is an unrealistic object he uses to only impress Daisy. Thus, I do agree that Gatsby is driven by his illusions to an extent that when he faces with reality when Daisy leaves him, he realizes that his dream is gone forever. Fitzgerald also uses Gatsby’s desire to rewind time to show how his dream is defeated, through the manner of Gatsby and the symbolism of the clock in Nick’s house. After Gatsby’s tale with Daisy begins with he falling in love with her in 1917, he is devastated to see her married with Tom. When Nick says “you can’t repeat the past” and Gatsby confidently replied with “of course you can, old sport.”
This determination in Gatsby’s saying manage to highlight his desperation and longing to return to the past, where all of his memories and Daisy were stored. At one point his nervousness during his first meeting with Daisy in Nick’s house, he “knocks a broken clock off the mantel, catching it just before it hits the ground”. The readers can see that this clock goes beyond Gatsby’s nervousness, but is a symbolic nature of his desire for time to stop. In a way, the clock stopped at a specific point in time and is seen to be trapped, just as Gatsby’s life stopped when he was hit with the realization that while he was poor and the fact he could never have Daisy. He’s been so busy chasing a dream rather than enjoying reality, therefore like the clock, he is emotionally stunted in his mindset when he has loved Daisy in the past. Thus, I do agree that even though Gatsby’s dream is defeated by the presence of time, but time doesn’t stop for anyone and this also allow characters like Daisy to have a change of heart-Daisy is no longer a sweet girl Gatsby knew long time ago- but now a selfish woman with a voice “full of money”.
The obsession of wealth that caused Daisy to love Gatsby’s superficial image only proves to us that repeating the past under the influence of the American Dream is impossible. Other than time itself, Fitzgerald also uses comparison to show the hopelessness in Gatsby’s defeated dream even before he was bornt. Nick finishes his story when he “became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes- a fresh green breast of the new world.” Fitzgerald have created the imagery of explorers travelling long distances, from East to West, to escape from their corrupted nations. The use of “Dutch” people here suggests their root coming from the western, and when America was found, they “flowered” of a new nation of peace and moral status.
However, we can see that America itself is now corrupted- highlighting that despite the fact the Dutch wants to create something new and of value, the fact that their root coming from corruption doesn’t go away, and instead brought karma with them here tchuo the new land. Therefore like the Americans, characters in the Great Gatsby travelled west to east in search for wealth while leaving behind the social and moral values, and thus implies how Fitzgerald successfully present to the readers how people like Tom and Daisy- their immorality and purposelessness were created. Like the others, Gatsby choose this way and since he cheated his way to success, his dream failed due to the class distinctions that were present even before his existence. Gatsby’s American Dream is seen to be achieving Daisy, but when Gatsby is no longer the man she used to love, but rather a man of great success and prosperity, this proves to us the heartlessness in characters like Daisy that’s in contrast to the basic nobility of Gatsby’s character.
Thus, I do disagree that even though Gatsby can’t defeat the power of time, his dream is already out of his reach since young. However, Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s build-up of sentimental dreams overtime to prove that he’s defeated by time. Gatsby set out to reach for his dream when he met his Dan Cody. During the time he travelled with Cody, he experienced a glamorous life and began to dream of a bright future where Daisy is present in it. At the end of chapter 1 Nick saw Gatsby “stretched out his arms towards the dark water” tat is a “single green light at the end of the dock.” For a long time the action of Gatsby “stretched out” is a representation of the future that he longs for. The “green light” at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes and dreams of an ideal life though he’s oblivious to the unattainable nature of his wishes.
However, Gatsby reaches not only for Daisy herself but for this idea of Daisy and the utopian future he associates with her. Nick muses that “it had not been merely the stars to which Gatsby had aspired on that June night.” In a sense, the readers can see that Gatsby is reaching for the stars as well. He heavily idealizes all of his dreams and builds them up on a stellar level-so much to an extent that he loses track of time. I think Fitzgerald intends to do this in order to criticize and reveal the nature of the American society led by capitalist system, of creating false hopes for the nepotism in the roaring 1920s through characters like Gatsby living vicariously through the upper class society. Therefore, I agree to an extent that Gatsby is defeated by time because of his failure to pick up the facts that his dreams only exist as memories.
In conclusion, Fitzgeral have displayed throughout the novel many aspects of how Gatsby’s dream is defeated by time and aspects of not only time itself. However, I think I would agree that Gatsby’s dream is largely been affected by the importance and presence of time in the novel- the last line of the book summarizes Gatsby’s struggle as “boats against the currents, born back ceaselessly into the past.” Though the green light symbolizes everything Gatsby wishes for, it directs him backwards in life instead of forwards. He never manages to understand that time doesn’t stop for anyone and move on. This also criticizes the cruel American society during the 1920s it leads to chaos and betrayals, it leads to destroying others who’s trying to reach their goals. Characters like tom and daisy were created and the American Dream failed everyone who tries satisfying themselves.
The Great Gatsby in Five Parts
One of the finest pieces of American fiction ever written, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby provides the reader with an abundance of carefully interwoven themes: intricate relationships, epic battles between greed and self-respect, social commentary on wealth and power, and in the end, a story of moving forward in life, despite our innate desire to look back at where we have been. Of all of the approaches to analyzing this classic work, an often over looked aspect is the mastery with which Fitzgerald moves the reader through all of these elements using a sound narrative structure.
The purpose of this essay will be to explore how spectacularly Fitzgerald, through the narrative voice of Nick Carraway, brings the reader along through the five main parts of a succinct and satisfying story. I. Explanation of the Narrative Structure Using Freytag’s Pyramid In order to provide an overview of the nature of a classic narrative structure, a brief summary of Freytag’s pyramid is offered.
Five main sections can be found in a drama, which allow for a natural development of characters and plot.
At the outset, a drama will provide exposition, or the background information needed to understand the characters, the dilemma or conflict of the story, and the setting of the action. The exposition leads into the second part or act known as the rising action with an inciting moment – or a turning point that delivers to the reader the indication that something is about to take place. The rising action will include the main dramatic problem of the story, as well as introducing any secondary conflicts, relationships or entanglements that will add to the overall action of the plot development.
At some point, the conflict will reach a boiling point where the most notable change for the main character(s) occurs. This is known as the climax. While many good stories deliver on these first three elements of Freytag’s pyramid, only the best works deliver the final two elements. After the main character’s climactic point, altering the story for the better or worse for the character, a period of falling action occurs, allowing the reader to see the fallout from the main turning point of the story.
While this is not the same as the final step, resolution, falling action allows for the unraveling of the plot and all of it’s consequences to naturally unfold – often with surprises unseen at the point of the climax to the reader. Resolution or denouement allows the reader to experience finality and conclusion through the narrative voice. It gives the reader the opportunity to see the conflict as resolved, for better or worse, from the perspective of the main character(s). II. The Great Gatsby: A Classic Example
a. Exposition: Fitzgerald uses the voice of his main protagonist, Nick Carraway, to set the stage. Carraway begins the story straightaway by delivering background on not just himself, but his lineage, family history and insight into one of the major themes of the book: social stratification. Carraway also introduces the character of Gatsby in the first chapter, and alludes to the almost hero-worship like affection for Gatsby that he felt, which as the story unfolds, will be another important theme.
Carraway further sets the background through his descriptions of the locations of the story: West and East Egg and how the different areas held different views of old and new money; again helping the exposition of the story by framing the areas which will highlight the drama yet to come. Additional characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan are introduced, as well as Jordan Baker – a young woman who begins dating Carraway as a result of mutually knowing the Buchanans.
This is especially important in part to introduce the character of Daisy who will ultimately play a major role in the development of Gatsby’s character; and also to highlight the longing in Carraway for the material life he recognized in the East Egg socialites. By the end of the second chapter, Carraway has exposed the nature of Tom Buchanan as an abusive husband capable of violently hurting women; another important point in the background of the characters in this story and the inciting moment, when Tom breaks the nose of Myrtle Wilson, his mistress in the presence of Carraway.
This causes Carraway to begin to rethink the glamour of the East Egg socialites and focus his attention on the West Egg society – namely the parties thrown weekly by Carraway’s neighbor, Gatsby. b. Rising Action: The true rising action of the story begins as Gatsby and Carraway become friendly over the course of the summer. Jordan Baker, a mutual friend also of Gatsby, attends the same parties and begins dating Carraway regularly. This alone is not noteworthy, except that she provides a linking piece of information that changes the direction of the story dramatically.
Gatsby revealed to Jordan Baker, and thus in turn to Carraway, that he is in love with Daisy Buchanan, an unrequited love from his past when he was poor. At roughly the same point in the story, another major element adds to the rising action when the character of Meyer Wolfshiem is introduced. Until that point, Carraway had idolized Gatsby as an honest person and worthy of befriending; however, Wolfshiem is Gatsby’s connection to organized crime – the source of Gatsby’s wealth.
Two conflicts begin to develop in earnest: externally, Carraway is dragged into the beginning of an affair between Gatsby and Daisy when asked to facilitate a meeting at his house between the two former lovers; and internally, Carraway, in his idolization of wealth and status, is drawn into questionable relationships with both Gatsby and Jordan Baker, which are contrary to the characterization he gave of himself in the exposition of the story, citing the manner in which his father had always taught him to conduct his affairs.
c. Climax: The pinnacle moment of the story takes place in the sixth chapter as the physical ramifications of Gatsby and Daisy’s affair, and Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson’s affair culminate in a tragic series of events. Tom is distraught upon learning that his mistress’ husband has learned of her infidelity and plans to take her away. At the same time, he learns his wife Daisy wants to leave him for Gatsby. Ordering Daisy and Gatsby to leave, the two drive off in Gatsby’s car.
On the way home, Nick, Tom and Jordan come upon the accident scene where Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, has been killed by a car that did not stop. d. Falling Action: As Carraway becomes further dismayed by the lack of morality of the people he’s been associating with, he breaks off his relationship with Jordan and returns home. Why The Great Gatsby is such a fantastic example of falling action, and where other books often fall short, is that in unraveling the plot from the point of the climax could have been very bland and summarily wrapped up the story as a tragedy of immorality.
However, Fitzgerald takes the reader along for such an unexpected twist when it is revealed that Tom tells Wilson that Gatsby was the one driving the car that killed his wife, and Wilson in turn, murders Gatsby and commits suicide in his grief. The final bit of irony is revealed that Daisy and not Gatsby had been driving the car at the time of Myrtle’s death. While certainly not the pinnacle of the drama, the falling action is just as satisfying and important to the totality of the story as any of the other five areas.
Some might argue this is the area that transforms a good story into a great and lasting tale. e. Resolution: While certainly there can be great morality lessons drawn out in the conclusion of such a story, the narrative voice of Carraway allows the reader to see both the external changes and tragedies that resulted from the interactions of the characters and conflicts, but also the more subtle and internally deep struggles which his character experienced.
By writing the story in the past tense and through the lens and voice of time and reflection, Carraway’s narrative resolution to his internal conflict of class, social aspiration and longing to be a part of the elite shows that even while he was disgusted and horrified at times by the behavior of his East Egg contemporaries, the longing at times remains. References: Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995.