The Great Gatsby: Did Money Kill the Great?
Many people claim that The Great Gatsby is the quintessential American novel. This is due to the reoccurring theme of the book of the rise and fall of the American dream. The book is very significant because of its relation to the time period in which it was written and the actual events that were taking place in the world in and around the 1920's. This period was called the "Roaring 20's" because of the economy at the time was through the roof and people were taking advantage of the overall wealth, both independently and as a whole. (Gevaert, 2) New York City was a symbol of what America has become in the 1920's: a place where anything goes, where money is made and bootleggers flourish. In the 1920's money was very abundant, also known as the "Golden Age." (Taylor) People were very materialistic at this time and this is evident in the book for the Gatsby's and the Buchanans were always trying to impress people rather than being themselves. Gatsby's use of the wealth and the way he sees it as being his only way to attain his one true dream- stealing Daisy away from Tom eventually leads to his demise. As they say, "For the love of money is the root of all evil." (Timothy, 6:10) and this novel certainly could support that. I plan on supporting this statement through the use of various examples throughout the book and how the main character's love of money ultimately leads to his death.
Jay Gatsby grows up not a part of the old money society, rather works his way up to becoming one of the richest men at this time. He is part of the "new money" society and therefore lives on West Egg, a section of Long Island where those who did not inherit their money reside. On the other side are the Buchanans, Tom and Daisy, who represent the "old money society" and reside in East Egg, along with other who have been fortunate enough to be born into money. Although these characters have been brought into money in complete opposite ways, they all give into the notion that money is all that matters in life. (Trask, 213) Although I was very eager for Gatsby to attain his wish of having Daisy all to his self, his materialistic view of life consequently lead to his unhappiness and ultimately his death. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby as a way to express his fascination of the spectacle of what had become of the American Dream and how it had become corrupted by greed and materialistic possessions. (Bellmore) The simple story of rags to riches and a classic love story make this book appealing to so many people. To be able to examine Jay Gatsby and how he relates to the American Dream it is necessary to know what the American Dream is. It is a dream that is interwoven and completely rooted in the foundation of American life and associated with individualism and enthusiasm. (Chubb) It celebrates the pursuit of success, fame, power and glory, including the domination of class and social privilege. William Fahey in his book F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream defined the "dream" as involving "a rise from rags to riches, of amassing a great fortune that will assure a life of luxuriant ease, power, and beauty in an ideal world untroubled by care and devoted to everlasting pleasure with nothing to intervene between wish and fulfillment" (Fahey,70). Later, Fahey points out that "it is a naïve dream based on the fallacious assumption that material possessions are synonymous with happiness, harmony, and beauty" (Fahey, 70) This notion of obtaining materials goods to achieve a higher status in life is the exact essence of what Fitzgerald is very critical of. The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic examination of 1920s and America as a whole, in particular the collapse of the American dream in an era of extreme wealth and material excess. Although many of the characters seem different, they all fall into the category of self-centered people. In Gatsby, we see a man who was...
Cited: Chubb, Thomas C. "Bagdad-on-Subway," The Critical Reputation of
F.Scott Fitzgerald. Article A353. Ed. Jackson Bryer. Archon Books, Maryland:
Fahey, William A. F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream. New York: Crowell,
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Simon and Schuster Inc., New York: 1991
The Great Gatsby: A Beginner 's Guide. Ed. Hudson Gevaert. 1996. 7 Nov. 2005. http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/3844/?20058.htm The Great Gatsby. http://www.bellmore-merrick.k12.ny.us/grgatsb.htm
Trask, David F. "The End of the American Dream," Fitzgerald 's The Great
Gatsby: The Novel,The Critics, The Background. Ed. Henry D. Piper.
Charles Schribner 's Sons, New York: 1970
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