Essay Extra Credit-Gatsby
Question: How does The Great Gatsby display the idea of the American Dream?
Writers are constantly incorporating subtle messages about society in their literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of these writers who is extremely artistic in this sense and can lift his novels’ impacts to new levels. He displays the emptiness in conformity in This Side of Paradise as well as the only temporary satisfactions of aristocracy in Tender Is the Night. Continuing his philosophic-like and critical analyzations of society in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald points out the elephant in the room by redefining the American Dream as an illusion with an evident relationship to corruption and amorality. By thoroughly using the literary device of symbolism, he includes Americana references, a different interpretation of the color yellow, and the “Great Gatsby” himself. The Americana culture is sprinkled throughout the book to immediately make the reader relate it to America. Instead of just pairing the literary and typical symbolization of the color yellow with wealth, opportunity, and beauty, Fitzgerald also pairs yellow with corruption, amorality, and death. Lastly, Jay Gatsby himself is the ultimate emblem of the the American Dream and its flaws. By using literary devices and brilliant writing style, Fitzgerald is able to send a bold statement about American society. Americana culture, the color yellow, and Jay Gatsby are key symbolizing elements that enhance this discreet, yet powerful message about the illusion of the American Dream.
American traits are scattered throughout The Great Gatsby to allude the reader to directly correlate the traits to American society, thus enforcing the idea that Fitzgerald is supporting the illusion of the American Dream with classic American characteristics. He includes American history references, American images, and ideal American attributes along with their obscured flaws. “My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western society...sent a substitute to the Civil War and started a wholesale hardware business that my father carries on today.” (pg.3) In the beginning of the book, Nick Carraway briefly tells a little about himself by mentioning how his family became wealthy. First he begins by giving the impression of his family working their way to the top like a classic, hardworking, self-sustaining family in the Middle West. Yet by mentioning how his grandfather’s brother sent a substitute to the Civil War and then starting a “wholesale hardware business” (producing weapons) contradicts his wishful idea of earning his wealth, rather than inheriting it. Fitzgerald also mentions baseball as another example of Americana. “‘He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919...’” ( ) Gatsby reveals Meyer Wolfsheim’s fraud to Nick. Baseball, the archetypal sport of America, is combined with fraud which has implications of hidden corruption with America. Nick even recognizes Gatsby’s American essence. “He was balancing himself...with the resourcefulness of movement that is so particularly American... breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness. He was never quite still...” ( ) Nick points out Gatsby’s mannerisms as those of the model American. The “restlessness” is critical of the model American; the constant yearning and aspiring to better oneself and not being satisfied with what one has until all goals are reached. However, although Gatsby stays true to this characteristic, it is this same characteristic that becomes destructive and eventually leads to his demise. Through examples of American traits, Fitzgerald is successful in uncovering the unseen side of the American Dream. He pairs these American traits with unlawful and fallacious notions to ultimately leave the message that the American Dream is solely an illusion because of these flaws.
Fitzgerald also cleverly contrasts the colors, gold and yellow, to their traditional,...
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