The Great Gatsby is considered to be a story about capturing the impossible past and the difficulties that are often faced by individuals while attempting to reshape their lives. According to Zeven and Dorst (2021), the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is identified to be a significant presentation of the social differences in 1920s American life. Several of the events in the novel can be noticed to be sharing an appearance with the author’s real-life experiences. The book published in 1925, demonstrates the choices and practices of Fitzgerald. It has been noticed that the author subsequently fell into a reckless lifestyle involving parties and decadence whilst embarking on his attempts to please Zelda (Bahuwa, 2019). The similarity in the character development of Gatsby can be noticed in the novel where Gatsby tries to impress his long-lost lover Daisy who has been married to a man from a noble family. The novelist is regarded as the most popular chronicler of "the Jazz Age" in 1920s America. The aim of this essay is to provide a critical discourse on the background and context of the novel “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald.
The novel signifies character development qualities in his writing style of Fitzgerald. According to Bohlin (2019), the novelist profoundly demonstrates the characters in their traits whilst reflecting the differences and similarities through societal diction. Since the novel has been projected through the narrative lens of Nick Carraway as the narrator, most of the description of the character is passive. The changes in the opinions about the prime characters have been prominent as the story gradually progresses. The readers can subsequently identify with the perception of Nick through the course of the story. As suggested by Jiajia (2021), the two main characters from the novel that would be discussed in the essay are Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. Both the characters are essential as they represent the differences in the perception of people from different social classes and unequal distribution of wealth and stature during the Great Depression in America in the 1920s.Jay Gatsby
The character of Jay Gatsby has been demonstrated as a young man in his thirties who grew up from an impoverished childhood in the rural areas of North Dakota to become fabulously wealthy. According to Maruri Pérez (2020), the protagonist can be considered to be a representation of the rags-to-riches story of success. His drive and perseverance in achieving the objectives and goals in life to earn wealth for being accepted as a respected personality are impressive. It is to be noted that Jay Gatsby’s wealth did not come through inheritance but from organised crimes. However, all his pursuits can be examined to be generated from the blind spot for getting Daisy back in his life. Gatsby has been presented as an incredibly wealthy yet mysterious man in the initial sections of the story through Nick's description. His first appearance in the book had also been surprising and anti-climactic (Habib et al., 2020).
Tom Buchanan has been introduced as the husband of Daisy who inherited an immense amount of wealth from his family and is also a close acquaintance of Nick. As described by Cain (2020), the narrator, Tom is described to be a sturdy, straw-haired man with a hard mouth. Tom is powerfully built, arrogant and a hypocritical bully representing the higher social class of the contemporary time. Considering the influence of the time, Tom's social attributes have been reflected to be laced with sexism and racism. The character is devoid of any moral qualms which are projected through his extra-marital affair with Myrtle. However, his hypocritical side is highlighted as he starts to suspect Daisy having an affair with Gatsby, he instantly becomes outrageous claiming a forced confrontation (Ratri & Aryani, 2019).
Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan
The transformation of the character of Gatsby has been evident as the story gradually progresses. The author implies principles of moral development for directing the plot to a happy ending. Even though Gatsby failed to reach his goal to win Daisy back into his life, he is able to get over his obsessive habits toward Daisy. As argued by Dilmi (2021), Nick directs the changes in the habits of Gatsby as he takes action to overcome the negative traits of the character. However, even after being rejected by Daisy, being heartbroken, he is still reluctant to let her go. In this context, Nick states that “he was clutching at some last hope and I couldn’t bear to shake him free”. According to Saborido (2022), the reluctance of Gatsby is quite evident through the quote as he did not want to let his obsession with Daisy since it has been years that he has centred his life around her. On the contrary, the vulnerability of Tom's character is also evident as he shows his fear of losing Daisy. Towards the end of the book, Tom has been shown to be stubbornly maintaining the claims that he and Daisy have always loved each other and will always do. Hence, Tom’s character remains the same while changes can be noticed in Gatsby.
The holistic theme of the narrative Great Gatsby can be identified as the pessimistic critique of the American Dream. According to Jiang (2019), through the ideals of the American Dream, it can be noticed that American society has been presented with significant fabrication in real-life situations. During the 1920s America can be noticed to be under a tumultuous situation which boomed the economic opportunities for several people through illegal activities. The discrepancy and unjust distribution of power have been evidently promoted by the author. As argued by Woodson (2019), the author has significantly attempted to convey that the American Dream cannot be completely acclaimed due to the constant changes like the greed and demands of the people. Considering the conceptualisation of the American dream through the perspective of Gatsby it can be noticed that his rise into wealth and social position has been entirely dependent on his vision and perseverance in reaching his goal. Even though Gatsby could acquire great wealth, he could not be successful in winning Daisy's love. Moreover, his obsessive dream of reclaiming Daisy's love led to his destruction at the end of the novel. The ultimate message behind using the concept of the America Dream as the prime theme for the novel is that it can be more destructive to get on a quest to reach kore than it is given by fate. According to Clevenger (2019), the involvement of the people in the era in materialistic things needs to be highlighted as one of the prime ideas behind the message of the story. Fitzgerald also signifies that too much involvement in the acquisition of the materialistic things in life never guarantees happiness. The projection of Gatsby’s downfall for attempting to achieve more than he already had represents the crash in the stock market preceding the Great Depression.
The American Dream in The Great Gatsby
The clear embodiment of Gatsby’s lifecycle with the ideals of the American Dream bears immense importance in the literary diction of the post-modern period. As opined by Woodson (2019), Gatsby's strong ethics and ambitions to achieve Daisy's endearment have subsequently drawn him to banish his pats lifestyle. Following the quote from the novel “a factual intimation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a towel on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of rawy ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” demonstrates the contrast between Gatsby’s past and present life through Nick’s description. The intricate principles of the American Dream are recognised to be hopeful that it is possible for everyone to be successful through determination and hard work. According to Cain (2020), in the case of Gatsby, his motivation behind the drive to be successful is Daisy's, unrequited love. Hence, considering the sense of raising higher in social rank it can be seen that Gatsby had achieved the American Dream. However, the ending has not been quite positive for the protagonist as his ultimate goal could not be successful.
The Great Gatsby can be recognised as a true legend in the classical segment of literature. According to Saborido (2022), even though the plot and the story are about a hundred years old, the freshness of the projection of the discrepancies in the societal positions reflected through the personal development of the characters is quite impressive. The drawing factor of the novel is the perception of the author to be directed into the narrator. Considering the part as a reader of the novel, the perception seemed to be forever changing. The opinions about the characters have been noticed to be constantly shifting after getting affected by the actions of the main characters and the people around them. As suggested by Habib et al., (2020), this argument is justified through the constant transformation of Gatsby's character from Nick Caraway's perspective. The most enduring part of the novel is the presentation of the antagonist in the plot. Although Daisy's husband Tom Buchanan can be identified as the obvious villain, the author subsequently includes other factors like class difference, societal expectations and the past lies told by Gatsby. In the middle of the novel, Daisy and Gatsby can be seen entangled in a short romantic phase, which is observed through Nick's perception of their romance “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams…it had gone beyond her, beyond everything”. As suggested by Maruri Pérez (2020), even though the couple has been shown to be sharing intimate moments, the future for them could be considered hopeless due to Gatsby’s inability to separate reality from dreams. The disparity can be noticed by both Nick and the readers in Daisy’s character that the image idealised by Gatsby whom he knew five years ago is subsequently different at present. The representation of Daisy by Fitzgerald as a shallow and materialistic character signifies the drive of Gatsby to chase a dream than a person. The portrayal of Daisy and Tom has been purposed to represent the dark secrets of the utopian American society (Jiajia, 2021).
From the above analysis, it can be concluded that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been a prominent literary document capturing the true essence of the societal condition of the contemporary period. The development and transformation of the main characters of the novel representing a different section of society have been quite evident throughout the story. The character of Gatsby has been quite pessimistic and anticlimactic in the novel as the author introduces him towards the middle of the course while his presence can be felt from the beginning. Fitzgerald has been successful in drawing the exact appearance of contemporary American society in the columns of the plot.
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