Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Gatsby Essay

Essay on The Great Gatsby

Anyone who has had a dream that wasn't fulfilled can relate to the characters of this book, because that is the topic for the entire story. Jay Gatsby was just that type of person. He had a dream for his life which seemed attainable. His dream, and his failure to attain it, is illustrated in The Great Gatsby by one of the greatest writers of the modern age, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby's dream was impossible to attain. Gatsby believed in himself and therefore thought he could do it, but he didn't take into account all the aspects of the situation. In the end, he isn't able to succeed. Jay Gatsby is unable to achieve his dream because the class system of the times which he lived takes away his opportunity.

The Modern Age, was characterized by great wealth for some, and great poverty for others. This is significant because a class system was established. The rich lived a luxurious lifestyle, sitting around during the day drinking and listening to songs such as "Ain't we got fun-in the meantime, in-between-time..." (Fitzgerald, 100). Many rich people looked down on the lower classes, as you can see from the remarks of Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle resented her husband George because, "I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe. He borrowed somebody's best suit to get married in," (Fitzgerald, 39). The culture of the time was very materialistic, and a person's status was based on the amount of money he or she was born with. The amount of money a person earned did not make a difference. The current society was corrupt, due to this "class system". The Great Gatsby takes place in an area called the, East and West Egg, described as "a valley of ashes---where ashes take the form of houses and chimneys and rising smoke, a valley of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air," (Fitzgerald, 27).

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Gatsby's dream was to become part of the upper class, the wealthy class. He believed that joining this class would make him a better person. He rejected his parents because they were “unsuccessful," he felt that their goals in life were much lower than what he wanted to attain. Gatsby felt that he could achieve his goals of becoming part of the upper class by marrying a member of it, so he set his goals on Daisy Buchanan, a member of the higher class. Gatsby met Daisy when he was a soldier, and he was one of many soldiers that had dated her. Daisy was always someone special in Gatsby's eyes because of her status. In an attempt to win Daisy, Gatsby got his neighbor Nick to invite her over to his house. He "came over" to Nick's house, and got a chance to be with Daisy again. He also arranged for fresh flowers to be brought in to the house and even hired someone to cut Nick's lawn. He had this done more for his sake then Nick’s, he wanted to impress Daisy. He wanted to feel “upper class.” Gatsby had pictured Daisy as being like a goddess. When she came over and he saw her again after five years, he realized that Daisy wasn't as "wonderful" as he had pictured her. Nick Carraway even says, "There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams---not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion," (Fitzgerald, 101). Gatsby had a huge dream to join the upper class, and he thought he could attain it.

But Gatsby isn't able to enter the upper class because he wasn't born into it. He had made plenty of money, but nobody of the upper class appreciated it. Everyone knew that "Gatsby" wasn't a big name in the area, and that he didn't come from a well-to-do family. He also couldn't be in a relationship with Daisy because he didn't belong to the upper class. Gatsby's dream is often viewed as the "American Dream," and was very common among people during the Modern Age.

The upper class never accepted anybody from a lower class. People who managed to go from rags to riches didn’t impress them. They were afraid of people like that, because this would make more people upper class, making them less elite. The rich wanted to feel important, and they could only do that if there were few people in their class. In the end, Daisy ends up using Gatsby to escape trouble. She can't handle the fact that she killed Myrtle Wilson in a car accident, and Gatsby is willing to take responsibility for it. Daisy just goes along with Gatsby's story that he was the one driving the car. George Wilson seeks revenge by shooting and killing Gatsby, and Daisy doesn't even care. Nick remarks after Gatsby's funeral that, "Daisy hadn't sent a message or even a flower," (Fitzgerald, 183). She didn't feel any need to. Gatsby was of a lower class. He was born into it and he died in it. That was the way things were.

Gatsby has no chance to achieve his dream because he lived during the Modern Age. The "class system" which had already been established limited him. Clearly, the rich had a different life, a life style that others could imitate but never integrate with. They knew each other and respected each other, while ignoring the rest of the world. Although this "class system" was present mainly in the Modern Age, there are still such systems in existence today. There are still groups that want to be elite, some even being unattainable. But culture as a whole at least in America is becoming more accepting of rags-to-riches stories.

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