The Great Gatsby Notes
The Great Gatsby is known as the quintessential novel of the Jazz age. It accurately portrays the lifestyle of the rich during the booming 1920s. Readers live vicariously through the lavish parties and on the elegant estates. Romantics relate to Gatsby’s unrelenting commitment to Daisy, the love of his life. But beneath all the decadence and romance, The Great Gatsby is a severe criticism of American upper class values. Fitzgerald uses the book’s central conflict between Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby to illustrate his critique. Tom is the incarnation of the upper class, Gatsby the nouveau riche. The contrast between them demonstrates the differences between the values of their
On the surface, Fitzgerald appears to be suggesting that, whilst wealth and all its trappings are attainable, status and position are not. Whilst Gatsby has money and possessions, he is unable to find happiness. Those who come to his home do not genuinely like Gatsby—they come for the parties, the food, the drink and the company, not for Gatsby. Furthermore, they seem to despise Gatsby, taking every opportunity to gossip about him. Many come and go without even taking the time to meet and few ever thank him for his hospitality. Even Daisy appears unable to cope with the reality of Gatsby’s lower class background. Gatsby is never truly one of the elite—his dream is just a façade.
However, Fitzgerald explores much more than the failure of the American dream — he is more deeply concerned with its total corruption. Gatsby has not achieved his wealth through honest hard work, but through bootlegging and crime. His money is not simply ‘new’ money — it is dirty money, earned through dishonesty and crime. His wealthy lifestyle is little more than a façade, as is the whole person Jay Gatsby. Gatsby has been created from the dreams of the boy James Gatz. It is not only Gatsby who is corrupt. Nick repeatedly says that he is the only honest person he knows. The story is full of lying and cheating. Even Nick is involved in this deception, helping Gatsby and Daisy in their deceit and later concealing the truth about Myrtle’s death. The society in which the novel takes place is one of moral decadence. Whether their money is inherited or earned, its inhabitant are morally decadent, living life in quest of cheap thrills and with no seeming moral purpose to their lives. Any person who attempts to move up through the social classes becomes
That Gatsby was able to rise from poverty to an affluence rivaling Tom’s was an embodiment of the American Dream. What Gatsby discovers is that his wealth, his attempts to master some measure of sophistication and taste — even his exemplary service in the war — are not enough. Fitzgerald satirizes the upper class’s distinction not only between the rich and the poor but also between new money and old money. In the words of Tom Buchanan, Gatsby is “Mr. Nobody from Nowhere.”
And as of 1917, at least some Americans were evidently beginning to recognize that consumerism and mass marketing were teaching them what to want, and that rises of fortune would be measured by the acquisition of status symbols.
F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece offers the most resonant (and economical) shorthand for the problems of social mobility, economic inequality and class antagonism that we face today.
Not only did the wage scales and our standard of living seem to promise riches to the poor immigrant, but the extent and natural wealth of the continent awaiting exploitation offered to Americans of the older stocks such opportunities for rapid fortunes that the making of money and the enjoying of what money could buy too often became our ideal of a full and satisfying life.
Although the story is fictional, Fitzgerald used the novel as a vehicle to offer social commentary on 1920s American life, particularly the upper echelons of society. In the novel, Fitzgerald uses satire to emphasize the superficial qualities of his characters. He also uses satire to suggest to readers that America’s traditional ideals — such as loyalty to God and country, the creation of all men as equal and the attainment, by any man, of the American Dream — were quickly deteriorating.
“The Great Gatsby” is peopled with beautiful and wealthy characters — the type emulated by the middle class. Even the novel’s level-headed narrator, Nick Carraway, is impressed that his former Yale classmate, Tom Buchanan, could afford to ship his polo ponies from the Midwest to New York. Nick admits, “It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that” Nick is charmed by his lovely cousin Daisy, Tom’s wife, but suspects her charm is superficial. Nick ultimately realizes that Daisy and Tom, despite their wealth, are morally bankrupt, “careless people” who “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money.” Fitzgerald satirizes what he views as the habit of privileged people acting as though ordinary people, such as Myrtle Wilson, don’t matter.
Fitzgerald suggests that in their exuberance, Americans became overtly materialistic. When Nick describes Daisy’s first tour of Gatsby’s house, he observes that Gatsby re-evaluates all his possessions based on the attention given each of them by Daisy. Gatsby isn’t concerned with the true value of anything he owns. He measures his worth by the degree to which he impresses Daisy.
His obsession with affluence is portrayed when she “began to cry stormily” at the mere sight of Gatsby’s lavish collection of expensive shirts (92). Even after her lengthy affair with Gatsby, Daisy neglects to attend his funeral, symbolizing her callous nature and the fact that she used Gatsby for his prestige. Unlike East Egg, West Egg is primarily comprised of new money as exhibited by Jay Gatsby. In contrast to its counterparts, West Egg is gaudy and extravagant, symbolized through the grandiose manor Gatsby occupies.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald employs the use of characters, themes, and symbolism to convey the idea of the American Dream and its corruption through the aspects of wealth, family, and status. In regards to wealth and success, Fitzgerald makes clear the growing corruption of the American Dream by using Gatsby himself as a symbol for the corrupted dream throughout the text.
Nick Carraway, his laid-back and observant neighbor, despises Gatsby’s flamboyant and exaggerated ways. However, he comes to admire Gatsby because of his unending optimism and his ongoing pursuit of making his dreams become reality. To many, Gatsby can be seen as the ultimate symbol of the greatness of the American dream. However, Gatsby is really the ultimate symbol of the ridiculous excess and waste of wealthy American socialites, which Carraway is so opposed to. Nowhere but in America is everything and anything possible, and nowhere but in America can the attainment of excessive frivolity be seen as admirable, even heroic. From his pathetic attempts to fake fate to his almost childlike whims. In the past the American Dream was an inspiration to many, young and old. To live out the American Dream was what once was on the minds of many Americans, however soon afterward those same dreams were twisted with corruption. In The Great Gatsby, the American Dream was presented as a corrupted version of what used to be a pure and honest ideal way to live. The idea that the American Dream was about the wealth and the possessions one had been ingrained, somehow, into the minds of Americans during the 1920’swing no limit, Gatsby is not a symbol of the greatness of the American dream, but a mere parody of it Not only was this time filled with prosperity, but corruption as well. People finally acquired leisure time, and it was filled with gluttony and lust. Many authors during this time believed that society was living in excess and without curbing its appetite somewhat, ruin was just around the corner
It is through the narrator’s dealings with the upper class that the reader is shown how modern values have transformed the American Dream’s pure ideals into a scheme for materialistic power, and how the world of the upper class lacks any sense of morals or consequence
In fact, he is a criminal, James Gatz, who, although he appears to be an epitome of the idealistic American Dream, having grown from an impoverished childhood into a life of excess and splendor, he has obtained everything through crime and corruption. Indeed, it has been said that ‘The Great Gatsby’ is “a parable of disenchantment with the ‘American Dream’” , and it is, for the American Dream is the idea that “through hard work, courage and determination, one could achieve prosperity.” James Gatz did not obtain his prosperous lifestyle through “hard work”, but rather through felony
Jay Gatsby’s lavish parties, characterized by music, dancing, and illegal alcohol, are a representation of the corruption of society’s values, and are filled with guests only concerned with material things as they steThe Great Gatsby and the Destruction of a Generation The beauty and splendor of Gatsby’s parties masks the decay and corruption that lay at the heart of the Roaring Twenties. The society of the Jazz Age, as observed by Fitzgerald, is morally bankrupt, and thus continually plagued by a crisis of character. Jay Gatsby, though he struggles to be a part of this world, remains unalterably an outsider. His life is a grand irony, in that it is a caricature of Twenties-style ostentation: his closet overflows with custom-made shirts; his lawn teems with “the right people,” all engaged in the serious work of absolute triviality; his mannerisms (his false British accent, his old-boy friendliness) are laughably affected
p furF. Scott Fitzgerald’s Portrayal of the Twenties F. Scott Fitzgerald was accurate in his portrayal of the aristocratic flamboyancy and indifference of the 1920s. In his novel, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald explores many aspects of indifference and flamboyancy. A large influence on this society was the pursuit of the American Dream. Gangsters played a heavily influential role in the new money aristocracy of the 1920s.
ther and further away from the moral values that once dictated the lives of those before themhe Great Gatsby provides the petty details of the aimlessness and shallowness of the idyll rich, the extravagance of their parties, and the illegal sources of the funds that fueled such mindless activities
The American Dream, a long standing ideal embodies the hope that one can achieve financial success, political power, and everlasting love through nothing more than hard work and dedication. During the Roaring 20s, people in America put up facades to mask who they truly were. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald conveys that the American Dream is simply an illusion, that is idealist and unreal, that dances on the waves of hope, but never quite makes it ashore. In the novel, Gatsby, a wealth socialite pursues his dream; Daisy and in the process he destroys himself and betrays his morals....
The Importance of Nick Carraway as Narrator of The Great Gatsby In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald critiques the disillusionment of the American Dream by contrasting the corruption of those who adopt a superficial lifestyle with the honesty of Nick Carraway. As Carraway familiarizes himself with the lives of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Jay Gatsby, he realizes the false seductiveness of the New York lifestyle and regains respect for the Midwest he left behind. “Fitzgerald needs an objective narrator to convey and prove this criticism, and uses Carraway not only as the point of view character, but also as a counter example to the immorality and dishonesty Carraway finds in New York” (Bewley 31
Money, Love, and Aspiration in The Great Gatsby How do the members of such a rootless, mobile, indifferent society acquire a sense of who they are. Most of them don’t. The Great Gatsby presents large numbers of them as comic, disembodied names of guests at dinner parties: the Chromes, the Backhyssons, and the Dennickers. Some, of course, have some measure of fame, but even Jordan Baker’s reputation does not do much for her other than get her entrée to more parties. A very few, such as Gatsby, stand out by their wealth; his hospitality secures him a hold on many peoples’ memories, but Fitzgerald is quick to point up the emptiness of this, [...] In this connection, Fitzgerald’s insistence on Gatsby as a man who “sprang from his own Platonic conception of himself” is important.