Broken Dreams and Fallen Themes
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. In addition, when portraying the family the characters in Great Gatsby are used to expose the corruption growing in the family system present in the novel. Finally, the American longing for status as a citizen is gravely overshot when Gatsby surrounds his life with walls of lies in order to fulfill his desires for an impure dream. F. Scot. Fitzgerald, through his use of symbols, characters, and theme, displays for the reader a tale that provides a commentary on the American dream and more importantly on its corruption.
Though success lies at the heart of the American dream, Fitzgerald deftly portrays the ease with which this sacred idea can become tainted by commenting on the corruption of wealth. Gatsby exemplifies the American dream in his ideals, in this case the desire for success and self-substantiation; however, this dream become corrupted because he is not able to distinguish the acquisition of wealth from the pursuit of his dream, embodied by Daisy, and is tainted by the illicit foundations of his wealth as well as his desires for an unsuitable married woman. Fitzgerald uses the symbol of the green light at the beginning of the novel to represent Gatsby’s dream and even uses the light to introduce him for the first time. “He [Gatsby] stretched his arms out towards the dark water in a curious way, and as far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward- and distinguished nothing but a single green light, minute and far away”(Fitzgerald 26). The author uses the light to represent the American dream; initially the color green represented fertility, which plays a prominent role in the dream, but as the story progresses the green light grows to symbolize money. In his essay “Money, Love, and Aspiration”, Roger Lewis discusses the means by which Gatsby amasses his wealth and poisons his dream.
Gatsby’s money does not “smell” right- however explicitly tacitly condoned by the denizens of Gatsby’s world illegal and shifty means (bootlegging, stolen securities) have been used to make that wealth. Gatsby does not see that the corruption at the base of his fortune in effect compromises his vision of life with Daisy
Obviously, Gatsby builds the foundations of his dream upon a structure of crime and deceit thus negating any nobility his dream once had. Throughout the book Gatsby continually throws outlandish parties where scores of people, whether invited or not, attend and revel in his hospitality; he later reveals his purpose in throwing these overly grandiose festivals, when Nick and he are talking...