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The Worlds of Emerson, Thoreau, and The Great Gatsby

By bignerds Jun 28, 2008 552 Words
Although all human beings exist in one universe, each may live in their own separate worlds. This is exemplified in the comparison between the worlds of two famous transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and the contrary world of The Great Gatsby. Thoreau developed his own world by becoming a recluse and secluding himself from society. Emerson built his own world on firm beliefs of self-reliance and God. However, the world which exists in The Great Gatsby proves to be very dissimilar.

The Gatsby world can be described as a distorted one. All of the characters that construe the world are false. Throughout the book, many parties are hosted, but nearly all of these parties are hypocritical. Virtually all of the people in the Gatsby world possess great wealth but never have a true, real use for it. They spend it lavishly with no specific intentions. Another common characteristic of the Gatsby world is the selfishness of the people. They are only interested in their own self ambitions and money. Jay Gatsby, throughout the whole novel, is seeking his own fulfillment by attempting to woo Daisy Buchanan. Reverting back to the parties, Gatsby hosts several and does not know most of the guests who attend the parties. Furthermore, Gatsby is not even acquainted with most of the guests. He invites them for his own personal motivations. All of these characteristics of the Gatsby world illustrate why it is a world of hypocrisy and dishonesty.

Conversely, the world portrayed by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson is very different than the Gatsby world. Emerson believed firmly in self-reliance. He believed that becoming a true man requires honor, character, and dignity, which is the antithesis of the characteristics and beliefs in the Gatsby world. Emerson followed through in what he believed in, staying true to himself. Additionally, Emerson centered his life around God. God was the basis for his life, as opposed to The Great Gatsby where religion is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Similar to Emerson, Thoreau also lived his own ideal life. By moving to Walden Pond he demonstrated that he was not dependent up society for anything. He was comprised of no lavish or extravagant possessions and presented this by living in a shack. He, like Emerson, depended on himself for practically everything. He made his own food and built his own house, and most importantly, stayed loyal to himself. In reality, Thoreau chastises the world and the people who exist in The Great Gatsby. This is why his and Emerson's world proves to be the inverse of the world residing in The Great Gatsby.

In conclusion, it is accurate in saying that the two worlds, The Great Gatsby and the world of Thoreau and Emerson, are completely different. The world in The Great Gatsby consists merely of material possessions and is insincere. Most of the characters in the book stray from the points that the transcendentalists write about in their essays. Their main themes focus on inner peace and not the amount of possessions one obtains, but the life-long value of those possessions. The world of Emerson and Thoreau strongly contrasts with that of The Great Gatsby mainly because it is a world that is truly genuine and constructed upon their personal beliefs.

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