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Failure And The Degeneration Of America In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

1099 words - 4 pages

  The Great Gatsby is a bold and damning social commentary of America

which critiques its degeneration from a nation of infinite hope and

opportunity to a place of moral destitution. The novel is set during the

Roaring Twenties, an era of outrageous excesses, wild lavish parties and

sadly, an era of regret and lost potential. As the audience, they take us

on a journey guided and influenced by the moral voice of Nick Carraway, a

character who is "simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the

inexhaustible variety of life." Nevertheless, when Carraway rejects the

East, returning to the comparatively secure morality of his ancestral West,

we realize that gaiety was merely a thin facade, and that behind it lurked

a hideous ugliness that penetrated to the essence of the human spirit.


      It was during the Jazz generation that the common man, a man no

different to James Gatz, pursued the glowing icons of his age. As religion

gradually faded away, it was money that had become an object of veneration.

The desire to become wealthy was parceled in the form of the American Dream,

a savage ideal that was fundamentally flawed from the outset. The fallacy

of the American Dream cursed all who aspired to its promises while the

upper class enjoyed the luxuries that accompanied their status, exploiting

those below them as a means to reaffirm their superiority.


      Consequently, James Gatz, under the influence of characters like

Dan Cody and Meyer Wolfshiem, underwent a self-transformation to become

Gatsby, a new man who was founded on his "Plutonic conception of himself."

As the embodiment of idealism and innocence, Gatsby strives to create order

and purpose yet he is faced with hostile surroundings and thus his attempts

to are futile. All Gatsby wants is to seize the green light in his fingers

but light is intangible, and like Gatsby's dream, it will always remain

beyond his grasp. Gatsby is trapped in a state of timelessness where his

future is an illusory reflection of this past. His unbridled imagination

has created a world in which reality is undefined to itself and thus

through this wilderness of illusions, Gatsby attempts to realize the

possibilities of life. Such was the "colossal vitality" of Gatsby's

illusion that he believed that his social status could recreate the past.

"Why of course you can," was his automatic response. Yet once the "party

was over," reality begins to dominate and tragically, Gatsby falls to his

demise. Gatsby finds himself in a world "material without real" and as he

"looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves... he found what

a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely

created grass." Confronted by reality, Gatsby realizes how disgusting it

really is compared to his world of illusions. Yet while the "whole ...

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