Appearance Versus Reality in T

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Introduction

When the first settlers came to America many years ago, they found freedom and opportunity. With hard work and determination an average man or woman could be prosperous. This concept was not only revolutionary in theory, but has proven to be true for many successful individuals. This idea has come to be known as the ‘American Dream.’ Its foundation was based on good ethics; however, with the passing of time it has become distorted. The American Dream no longer stands for equal opportunity and hard work, it involves wealth, false happiness, materialistic possessions and high social status. Individuals who have achieved the materialistic ‘American Dream’ give the appearance of perfection. However, for many, their lives are not as ideal as what they seem. Issues such as sexual abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, adultery, greed and restlessness, affect the lives of even those who appear to live the ‘American Dream.’ In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, the characters Daisy Buchanan and Nicole Diver give the appearance of a charmed existence, but it is in fact flawed.

Daisy Buchanan was raised in a wealthy American family, and had the appearance of a perfect upbringing. In reality, Daisy did live a “ white” (p.20) childhood, pure and innocent. In fact, her childhood was so ideal that even her friend Jordan Baker commented, “The largest of the banners and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay’s house. She was just eighteen, two years older than me [Jordan], and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster, and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night” (p.75). Daisy’s childhood not only gave the outward appearance of being ideal, but in reality it was flawless as well. On the exterior Nicole Diver’s childhood fits all the requirements of a perfect upbringing as well, however, like the ‘American Dream,’ it too was imperfect. Nicole was born into an affluent family and she was “a perfectly normal, bright, happy child” (p.126). However, after the death of Nicole’s mother, her father began to have an incestuous relationship with her. Nicole maintained the appearance of being ‘normal’, but she eventually began to suffer from mental illness because of her past abuse. “She had a fit or something-the things she said got crazier and crazier…”(p.127). “Almost always about men going to attack her, men she knew or men on the street – anybody –” (p.127). Nicole was diagnosed as having a “Divided Personality”(p.128) and she underwent many years of therapy to rehabilitate her from her past sexual abuse. Both Nicole and Daisy’s childhood have the outward appearance of being perfect, however only Daisy’s childhood truly was.

After Daisy married Tom Buchanan, their marriage appeared to be a happy union. They traveled to many places and people commented, “it was touching to see them together…”(p.78). Although Daisy’s marriage seemed idyllic, it regrettably was not. At a young age Daisy was forced to marry Tom, a wealthy businessman from Chicago. “She [Daisy] wanted her life shaped now, immediately – and the decision must be made by some force – of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality – that was close at hand”(p.151). Daisy entered this marriage only for the social status and financial security that she would gain. She knew that the marriage was a mistake and that her heart truly belonged to Jay Gatsby. However, she continued with the planned marriage. The “next day at five o’clock she married Tom Buchanan without so...
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