Gatsby is a man who believes in ideals.
The hope for a better life and a more fulfilling existence is something all
humans share. In the last two hundred years, many have seen North
America as the beacon in the night, the utopian society where anyone
with talent can become successful, regardless of class or place of birth.
The nineteen twenties were a decade in which this became evident to be
only a facade, and though they could try, most could never get to the
top. Materialism, greed, money and prejudice had tarnished this noble
dream, and though many would aspire to it, they were always on the
outside when it came to high society. F. Scott Fitzgerald was such a
man, one who strived but just could not be accepted by those in the
world of his wife, and poured his frustrations into his greatest novel,
The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is a man who believes in ideals. He rises from
nothing and attains great wealth to impress Daisy Fay, the love he sees
as angelic and pure, but whose greed and selfishness makes her choose
her cruel and unfaithful husband’s material worth and stature over
Gatsby’s undying love and adoration, ruining his hopes for an ideal life.
Daisy grew up in the world of ‘old money’ where having and being
able to spend money is all important. Money and wealth encompasses
Daisy’s entire being “ ‘Her voice is full of money.’ he said suddenly. It
was full of money - that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell
in it, the jingle in it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . High in a white palace
the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . .” (Fitzgerald, 115). A statement
like this, especially coming from Gatsby says much about how he can
see through the facade and truly love her. He knows she loves him, she
just cannot deal with the fact that no matter how hard he tries, his voice
will never be full of money. The scene that most exemplifies this is the
scene where she, Gatsby and Nick Caraway are at Gatsby’s house and he
shows her his wardrobe
He took a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us,
shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel..... Suddenly, with a
strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry
stormily. ‘They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled
in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such - such
beautiful shirts before.’ (89)
Daisy realizes here that Gatsby has attained her level of wealth just to
impress her, and realizes that no matter how much he has, her
childhood teachings tell her she cannot love him. Daisy has a deep
character despite her shallow guise. She realizes her meaningless
existence when her daughter is born, “ ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope
she’ll be a fool - that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a
beautiful little fool.” (22). Daisy was taught to be a submissive little fool
from the time she was a little girl, and pulls off the rouse well, except
when she is drunk, which is the precise reason that she does not drink.
Before she marries Tom Buchanan, Jordan Baker finds her in her bridal
suite with a bottle of Sauterne in her hand and very drunk,
She groped around in a wastebasket she had with her on the bed and
pulled out the string of pearls. ‘Take ‘em downstairs and give ‘em back
to whoever they belong to. Tell ‘em Daisy’s change’ her mine’ (74).
Her husband knows nothing but the world of money and material things.
He buys Daisy expensive pearls as a wedding gift and makes sure
everybody knows they’re expensive to show her how much he loves her.
Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson is so poor that she can be wooed only
with the promise of pretty things and even though Tom abuses and
beats her she keeps coming back, “Making a short deft movement, Tom
Buchanan broke her nose with an open hand. There were bloody towels
upon the bathroom floor, and women’s voices scolding, and high over
the confusion a long broken wail of pain.” (39). At the end of the book,
after Gatsby is dead and Tom and Daisy’s marriage is on the verge of
falling apart, Nick sees Tom in town heading towards a jewellery store
looking for something expensive to buy Daisy so she’ll forgive him,
showing still that no matter what Tom has still not learned that material
things don’t last, and that they don’t show love. By this point both of
them had destroyed all those around them, and had only each other left,
“Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then
retreated back into their money or whatever ir was that kept them
together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” (170).
The literary technique at the end of The Great Gatsby is interesting
in that it ties the whole book together thematically,
I became aware of the island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’
eyes - a fresh green breast of the new world. It’s now vanished trees,
the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house had once pandered in
whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams . . . I thought of
Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of
Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream
must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. (171).
It brings the reader to the realization that this book is not merely a
simple story of “ideal” and unattainable love, but a bold statement on
the state of American society. Daisy and Tom cannot see outside their
narrow privileged world, a world Gatsby tries desperately to become a
part of but ultimately cannot be accepted into. Gatsby’s entire existence
is geared to attaining his ideal, Daisy. He sees an ideal love in her, and
is on a quest to erase the time that had gone by “ ‘I’m sorry about the
clock.’” (84). Unfortunately, as Tom uncovers, Gatsby is not anything he
claims to be, he is a bootlegger and drug dealer and did not make his
money legitimately and is even more ostracized because of it.
Gatsby lived in a massive house with an army of servants all alone.
Every weekend he would gave a big, elaborate party with hundreds of
people in attendance that he himself didn’t even bother attending. He
tries and tries to woo Daisy once more, and as soon as he thinks he’s got
her she crushes him and says that she loves Tom. No matter what he
does for other people, they always double-cross him in the end to serve
their own purpose. Tom begins by telling Wilson that it was Gatsby who
was having an affair with and killed Myrtle, thus becoming the catalyst
in Gatsby’s death. Gatsby’s body wasn’t discovered for a number of
hours after his murder simply because nobody cared to contact him and
the servants didn’t think to go investigate the gunshots they heard.
Nick Caraway was the one to find him and the one to plan his funeral.
He and Mr Gatz, Gatsby’s father were the only people in attendance.
Gatsby’s business partner, Mr Wolfsheim no longer wanted to be
associated with him because Gatsby’s business had been uncovered and
he didn’t want himself involved. All the people that had attended his
parties didn’t feel the need to come because they just couldn’t be
bothered. . . his countless house guests, “friends” and business
associates, none of them came. The only person that came was “Owl
Eyes” who stayed only for a second, said “the poor son of a bitch” and
left. Gatsby was too idealistic and naive, making him prey to those who
would seek him out and use him to their own advantage. Even though
he seems like he’s living in a dream world, after he the very first time he
meets Daisy he knows that he cannot have her, and “tries hard to die” in
the war because he has nothing to live for; he is penniless and
heartbroken. He takes this to the extreme when he moves his battalion
into the heart of battle and manages to get a medal for honour and
valour rather than get himself killed. The American Dream fails him, as
he cannot get as far as he wants. . . he cannot puncture Daisy’s world,
no matter how talented or rich he is, and the fact that Wilson kills him
just saves him the trouble of becoming a recluse and living out a
Jay Gatsby is a man who rose from nothing and embodies the hopes
and dreams of a nation. He reaches the top, but is stopped short
because he does not come from money, but instead is a self made man.
This though, should be prized above all instead of looked down upon.
Daisy is his reason for living, the sun rises and sets on her love, on her
existence. Without her, Gatsby has nothing but an empty void, he’d
have no goals or aspirations. He is the only person who can see into her
heart and see that it is beautiful, but is tarnished by an upbringing that
makes her almost like a fallen angel that was never taught to think for
itself. She could get past it, but chooses not to when she chooses Tom
over Gatsby because Tom has money and stature and Gatsby only has
love to offer. Her sense of values is distorted and she does not know
what she wants, so she goes to what she knows - a life of money and
privilege. Today, society moralizes that privilege and money bring the
ultimate happiness and without them life is meaningless, pointless and
miserable. Children are taught at a young age to strive for riches, even
though most who have reached that goal will testify that it is not riches
that has made them happy . . . moreover it was love.