The novel The Great Gatsby has always been one of my favorites. Fitzgerald does a magnificent job incorporating the ideals and customs of the 1920s and how they pertained in the lives of the characters in the novel. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald attempts to convey the portrayal of the decline of the American Dream in the decline of morals through the way the characters Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom go about living their everyday lives.
A great way that Fitzgerald evidences the decline in morals is with the theme that nothing is ever good enough for the characters. This is evidenced best at the end of chapter four. Jordan Baker informs Nick about Daisy and Gatsby’s love in the past. According to Jordan, before the war both Gatsby and Daisy were living in Louisville, Kentucky. Before Gatsby went off to war him and Daisy had fallen in love. In the 2000 movie based on the novel there is a scene depicting the story of Gatsby and Daisy. It seems that when they are together they are bounded by the innocence of their youth while also coming together with timeless love for each other (McLaughlin). Now with Gatsby fulfilling just about every need of hers emotionally there was still one thing he lacked…wealth.
When Gatsby goes off to war it is clear that Daisy can’t wait for him because she goes off and gets married to Tom Buchanan. Most people would not give up so easily on what Daisy and Gatsby had. Yet Daisy is evidence that nothing is ever good enough in the lives of these characters and further illustrates the decline in morals. She had true love but gave it away because finding someone with wealth was more important than love. With wealth the belief is that money can buy happiness. Yet that clearly is not the case in this novel because Daisy is never truly happy with Tom. As evidenced by her affair with Gatsby when they finally do meet with each other again.
You can also look to the Tom Buchanan to help illustrate nothing ever being good enough for the characters in this novel. In fact he may be the best example of this. He has all the characteristics that would make any man envious of him. He is wealthy and extremely athletic. He is respected by many has a beautiful wife and cute little daughter yet this doesn’t appease him. He still has to find a mistress for himself with none other than Myrtle. Now it’s not like this woman is more attractive than Daisy. She’s nothing special to say the least and what may be even more alarming is that he is open with his affair to Nick.
The decline of morals and personal selfishness is best illustrated by the way family life is just deteriorated in the lives of the characters in the novel. It’s evident right away when Nick sees Daisy again for the first time in years. When he first walks in Daisy says she is elated with joy but never gets up to properly greet Nick. It doesn’t matter how long you go without seeing a relative, whether it’s a month or years in Daisy and Nick’s case, you should always get up to greet a family member when they enter your house and you first see them.
As the novel progresses you see even more how little family life really means to Daisy and Tom. They both have a young daughter together and most parents would be elated to be blessed with a child. However, we barely here about their daughter throughout the novel. When Nick is over at the house for the first time we are briefly introduced to their daughter. All she really does is come in and say hello before the nanny escorts her out. We are left to infer that the nanny is the primary caretaker for the daughter because she never really appears again in the novel. In fact Daisy had a very important quote in chapter one about her daughter that really describes the social nature of women of that time sadly. “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” The older generation of women generally thought to be more duteous around the...