Great Gatsby Analysis

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The descriptions of individual characters and settings convey ethical and moral judgments of a society. In the Great Gatsby, the descriptions of the Eggs, the “valley of ashes”, Gatsby, and the Buchanans all convey the judgment that the upper class of the society are shallow, empty and hollow and therefore, lacking morals and ethics and because of this, that the American dream has failed as citizens have become obsessed with the material aspect of the American dream rather than the spiritual aspect.

Firstly, one of the settings described in the Great Gatsby is the contrast of West and East Egg. The descriptions are highly symbolic and convey that the upper class of the society is lacking in morality and ethics because it has been corrupted by material wealth and power that comes from this wealth. In the novel, West Egg and its citizens represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its citizens represent the old aristocracy. East is symbolic of wealth and corruption, west of morality. In the story, east is symbolic of wealth and the corruption it causes. In the east, having money is having power, and that power corrupts. Indeed, in the east, few truly take responsibility for their actions. Early in the story, Jordan Baker is nearly suggested in the newspapers to have "moved her ball from a bad lie" in the semi-finals of a golf tournament. Witnesses later said they might have been wrong, no doubt with the encouragement of Jordan's money. Also, when Daisy ran into Myrtle, she didn’t stop the car. In the corrupt East, people don’t take responsibility for their actions. The west, on the other hand, is symbolic for morality. The west was known for its values and its work ethic. Nick refers to the place as "the warm center of the world." Nick later talks of the west as the place where “houses are called by the name of the family”. With all of its morality, the west was still unfashionable, people (eg. Gatsby and Nick) wanted to move to East Egg drawn by the wealth and care-free attitude. However, as Nick says, “we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly inadaptable to Eastern life." This means that Nick and Gatsby will never get there because they lacked taste. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich (west eggers) as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste. Gatsby, for example, lives in a monstrously ornate, gothic mansion, wears a pink suit, drives a Rolls-Royce, and does not pick up on subtle social signals, such as the insincerity of the Sloane’s’ invitation to lunch. In contrast, the old aristocracy (east eggers) possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanan’s’ tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan Baker. What the old aristocracy possesses in taste, however, it seems to lack in heart, as the East Eggers prove themselves careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to money’s ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting others. The Buchanan’s exemplify this stereotype when, at the end of the novel, they simply move to a new house far away rather than condescend to attend Gatsby’s funeral. Gatsby, on the other hand, whose recent wealth derives from criminal activity, has a sincere and loyal heart, remaining outside Daisy’s window until four in the morning in Chapter VII simply to make sure that Tom does not hurt her. Ironically, Gatsby’s good qualities (loyalty and love) lead to his death, as he takes the blame for killing Myrtle rather than letting Daisy be punished, and the Buchanan’s bad qualities (fickleness and selfishness) allow them to remove themselves from the tragedy not only physically but psychologically. This shows that the upper class of the society has no morals or ethics because they have been corrupted with excessive materialistic wealth. This conveys the materialistic excesses the 1920s and the decline of the American dream....
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