The Great Gatsby Essay English Literature Essay
In Fitzgeralds alluring novel, The Great Gatsby, the reader is introduced to a time high on hedonism and social progression in the early 1920s, when America was under the isolationist policy. The quintessential boy next door, Nick, also the narrator of story, recalls the time when he moved to New York City to learn about the bond business; instead he experiences and is treated to the contemporary upper-class bourgeois lifestyle while unveiling the underlying dilemma and central conflicts of the upper-class which ignites the inception of a tragic affair followed by betrayal, vengeance, and lust for ascending the social ladder of society. Fitzgerald's blend of symbolism conveyed by lavish imagery through the planned reencounter with Daisy, the fatal, yet seemingly rewarding death of Myrtle, Gatsby's "last chance", and Gatsby true intentions for pursuing Daisy, synergistically conjoin to create a seamless masterpiece of literature, evoking the contrast between social standing and moral virtue.
The long-awaited moment Gatsby has been yearning for has finally arrived, all is in the hands of Nick, whether he agree to invite Daisy over to his house and have lunch with him and Gatsby, his neighbor. The encounter is awkward and static at first; Gatsby becomes apprehensive and leaves anxiously, but returns "clean", and attempts to face the matter professionally, "...His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy who was sitting frightened, but graceful on the edge of a stiff chair" ( Fitzgerald 91) The length of time of the separation between the two draws back the obscure, yet intense feelings of remorse and infatuation are exchanged. Daisy is bewildered by him, contemplating about their shared past and juxtaposing it to the possible future that may lie ahead between the two from this riveting encounter. The prolonged stares and length of time separated seem to unravel a dubious mystery between the two. The intense meeting, and uncomfortable posture reflects the feeling of withdrawal endured and leads them to think what may have been the reason why they feel their lives during that span of separation could have been for the better if they hadn't have lost contact. This becomes the incentive they both follow in hope, despite the fact that Daisy is married and Gatsby lacks compassion.
The embroiled scene when Gatsby and Tom confront each other about their feelings about one another ends when Tom decides enough is enough. He doesn't feel like arguing at Gatsby, because he knows Gatsby cannot recreate the past and expect to go through it smoothly. Tom exposes and justifies the rumors of Gatsby's illicit, yet lucrative business of selling whole-grain alcohol which had lead to some trouble after one of his loyal dealers was arrested for a month and Gatsby did not defend him in trial. Tom also mentions how selling grain alcohol was just one of the many things he did for profit, and tells him how he had coerced the man to not mention anymore of the questionable activities he assisted Gatsby in performing. Tom lets Daisy go home with Gatsby, purposely to make her feel guilty and regret what she has done. On the way back Daisy drives recklessly, inattentive of the road, irritated by Tom's final remark. While driving back, she hits and kills Myrtle, Tom's mistress, without looking back. "They saw that her left breast was swinging loose like a flap, and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath. The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners, as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long." (Vonnegut 137) The symbolism is found in the detachment of her left breast, which is where the heart lies, gushing in blood and purging out any remaining love that she had sacrificed to please Tom, which had been constricted by his demanding need to want more of Myrtle, to release his impulsive desires to someone inferior of his class. He chose her because she was desperate, lacking of self-esteem, and she had no morals or social class which made her vulnerable to succumb to his deflowering and enthralling demeanor. Obviously, he didn't choose a mistress or pursue someone of his equal standing because not only would the offer be declined, but he wouldn't want to shed negative-taboo light on his class. Tom's characteristics as a chauvinist are expressed here, "It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things." (Fitzgerald 13) Tom feels compelled to express his pride of being an Aryan, to introduce Nick and grant him as an equal to their elite cult. Tom never would have married Myrtle or strengthen the bond of their relationship because he just wanted to indirectly humiliate her, to spoil her and show her a taste of the life she will never gain. Although he uses her, his actions define him in the same respect as someone of a lower class. This patronizing air which has been passed on from elite generation to generation cannot withstand the complex imperfections of humanity. To be revered and respected, to follow the idea of immaculate conception is a façade which prevents "these other races to have control of things" (Fitzgerald 13).
Gatsby's past is a burden to him that he wants to absolve from negativity and indefinite social obligations. He follows the mystic green light, revering its speculator insight, and intangible form. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eludes us then, but that's no matter-- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther..." (Fitzgerald 180) The green light, symbolizes the constant, incessant energy that gives us motivation and ambitious, the possible chance to reach the unsought for, the revival of unexpressed thought and motive, underlying deep within ourselves. The fundamental idea of the American dream, the pursuit of personal happiness and viable opportunity. He sought for the best, and got in touch with his alter-ego. The only flaw was that he wasn't born into this culture, this cult of higher privileged superiority. He defied the odds of becoming rich while carrying his family background, driven by this dream of becoming a millionaire, to redefine him, in a sense with his character. But, he thought he had had the chance to redeem himself into the world of the rich and famous, though marrying Daisy, which he loved and cherished, primarily for her high-class standing which he could have gotten the chance to integrate to. At that time, when Daisy was young and innocent and when he young and full of promise was the moment he needed to be rich enough to meet Daisy's parents standards. But, he couldn't change the past and his need to do so kills him. He fails to recognize that the green light cannot change what has been done.
At the time when this novel was written, there was a great need and feel for people to rejoice and achieve fulfillment in their lives. The American Dream was prevalent and business was high. People felt they had a greater responsibility and right to claim their future in this thriving country and every moment was a brush against possible opportunity, the chance to be something, someone, anything could have been possible, except erasing one's background identity. In the story, Nick captures the essence and overall attitude of the 1920s and the life of Jay Gatsby and company. Moved from the Midwest to New York, he lives in an unfashionable area called West Egg. As soon as he arrives, he is invited to his rich cousin's house and soon starts to unfold the conflicts that come ahead, and soon becomes acquainted with his mysterious neighbor, Mr. Jay Gatsby and learns all about the tricks of the trade and understands why Gatsby sees him with great interest, while experiencing a new culture, a fashionable joi de vivre which he succumbs to and illustrates us its overlooked flaws. The vivid symbolism incorporated in the novel from the description of the defunct clock to the weather-inspired imagery explaining Gatsby's last chance for redemption, all come together to create a novel of awe and relished anticipation.
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