The Great Gatsby

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In this classic American novel authored by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby proves to be a satirical work of literature that illuminates flaws, misconceptions, and ignorance of society as a whole and the ideals of the “American dream” through Gatsby's actions and his belief that the past can be repeated for the right price. Throughout the novel, Jay Gatsby struggles to live his own version of the “American dream.” The dream of high social status, wealth, and past love ultimately leads to the down fall of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is not born into wealth and tradition, but into a lower social class than that of his love, Daisy (who was partially based on Fitzgerald‘s wife, Zelda). After returning from the war, Gatsby decides that in order to court Daisy he must obtain wealth. Gatsby meets Meyer Wolfsheim, a known gambler, and a shady character. Gatsby tells Nick of Wolfsheim,” He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919”. Later on in the novel Wolfsheim tells Nick of how he met Gatsby as a poor young soldier just back from the war, “I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter”. Fitzgerald leads the reader to believe that Gatsby’s wealth has been acquired through illegal activities.

Fitzgerald shows that the conceptual thought of the “American dream” is flawed through the contrasting deaths of Gatsby and Myrtle. The juxtaposition of Gatsby and Myrtle's deaths is realized through looking at their history. In this novel, as previously stated, Gatsby is a man who came from humble beginnings financially. In his early twenties, when he meets Daisy who is of an aristocratic family, Gatsby made the decision that he will do anything he must to make enough money in order to marry Daisy. “Daisy is compared to the "Holy Grail" and Gatsby's dream is like a knight's quest, showing once again the dream's spiritual nature,” (MSU). When the action of this novel begins, Gatsby has already worked his way up to a rich lifestyle and is in the process of throwing numerous over-the-top parties in hopes of getting Daisy to fall in love with him again. Immediately in the first chapter, we see that Gatsby is living the “American dream” when Nick describes his mansion as a colossal affair "spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden." Even though Gatsby is living the “American dream” in all of his wealth, he is still emotionally inept without the love of Daisy.

At the opposite end of the cliché, Myrtle Wilson is extremely poor. Myrtle lives in the Valley of Ashes and has never had money. Myrtle is very displeased in her marriage to her poor yet loyal husband, George. She did not care or take into consideration that her husband was working very hard to provide for her and loved her very much, she only cared about having money and she found that in Tom. Myrtle is having a love affair with Tom while Gatsby is having a love affair with Tom's wife, Daisy. Although the fact that Tom and Daisy are each cheating on the other is ironic, it is not juxtaposed in the story. This is where the author shows the other side of the American dream, Myrtle Wilson has the love of her husband but does not have vast amounts of money, were as Gatsby and the Buchanan’s have a lot of wealth but do not have someone who loves them the way that George loves Myrtle. At this point in the novel the soap opera like plot is fully revealed. Because of the divisions in the society of the roaring twenties however everyone ends up either unhappy or dead. Nether Daisy or Tom would ever consider being with their respected secret lovers because of the social restrictions of the East Egg society. Tom would never be with someone of a lesser social status and nether would Daisy, this means that both Gatsby and Myrtle would have to come to the realization that their quest for the “American dream” has ended abruptly and not the way they intended, this is what unfortunately led to their death....
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