The 1920's in the united States was a time of economic growth in which people lived frivolous lives by believing their money would make them happy. It was a time of alcoholic prohibition and a time of emancipation for women. Thus, it was a time of parties, drinking and wild women for those who could afford it. Those who were at the bottom of society were constantly striving for the top of the economic ladder.
This time era, in Long Island, is the basis of F. Scott's Fitzgerald's book, The Great Gatsby. It has become one of the great classics in American literature and is well known for its commentary on social status. Through the introduction of many "status" oriented characters, Fitzgerald comments on the social lives of those living in the twenties. But does it go beyond the social status issues it addresses, and focus on something deeper? Yes, the characters may focus on their constant climb to economic well being, but more importantly they reveal a theme of The Great Gatsby: in the midst of man's heart is loneliness and the need to be needed, which is surrounded by the greed of money. "Gatsby offers a detailed social picture of the stresses of an advanced capitalist culture in the early 1920s" (Fitter), "Fitzgerald discloses in these people a meanness of spirit, carelessness and absence of loyalties. He cannot hate them, for they are dumb in their insensate selfishness, and only to be pitied." (Clark).
The plot, or general development of the story, is carefully designed to grow as the reader gets to know the characters. It isn't until the last few chapters that the actual events of the story add to the theme. Even then, the character's reactions to these events are what strengthen the theme of loneliness.
The narrator, Nick Carraway, presents his own view of himself at the beginning of the story. By being the narrator, he only allows the reader to know what he wants them to know about him. He gives the impression that he is an upright human being that "reserves all judgments" (p.1). However, by the end of the story, he has come to the conclusion that everyone he has come into contact with is shallow and self-absorbed. Although he might give the impression that he is content with life, a small glimpse of loneliness can be seen in him. He shows this to the reader as he thinks, "Thirtythe promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair" (p. 136). He also reveals his need to be loved by someone, even if it is just another girl: "I had no girl . . . so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms" (p.81). Another instance that supports this theme is when Nick relates to the loneliness that accompanies Gatsby's death: ". . . it grew upon me that I was responsible, because no one else was interestedinterested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to which everyone has some vague right at the end . . . I wanted to get somebody for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him: I'll get somebody for you Gatsby, don't worry, just trust me and I'll get somebody for you" (p.165). In some way,
if he could get someone for Gatsby, it would cure his own desperate need for a person to love in his life.
Daisy Buchanan, the object of Gatsby's desire, is Nick's cousin, and it is through him that she is reunited with Gatsby after so many years. Though she has money and a dashing, young husband, she too is struck with loneliness. When one looks past her beauty and the ringing of money in her voice, the loneliness can be seen. The fact that her husband does not love her any longer, and rather ironically shows his love by having a very public affair, adds to her solitude. The loneliness comes from the fact that she knows of the affair, and yet, she doesn't have the strength to step away from her money and do something about it. The money and sarcasm that she is able to run to are...
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