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Jonathan Tang's Essay

1226 words - 5 pages

People tend to forget the negative parts of the past, holding onto the positive and idealizing it to create nostalgia. It is easy to romanticize and live in the past in order to avoid difficulties in the present. The past becomes a false illusion and an enchanted safe haven from the corruption in reality. However, trying to apply false illusions into reality leads to isolation and corruption. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby, investigates the detrimental effects of craving the false sense of security in the past. Gatsby’s obsession of a false hope and idealization of the past contrasts the Lost Generation’s attempt to find self-fulfillment after war and the American Dream ...view middle of the document...

” He wanted to go back to when Daisy was just the “first ‘nice’ girl he had even known” and he “didn’t realize just how extraordinary a ‘nice’ girl could be.” Gatsby’s dream to relive the past “preyed on Gatsby” and became “foul dust [that] floated in the wake of his dreams”(2). Contrasting the Lost Generation who tried to find revitalization in reality, Gatsby kept Daisy in his mind like floating dust and prevented him from living in reality.
Unlike Gatsby, Nick, who is part of the Lost Generation, lost faith in America and its promise of hope and love. As Gatsby continues to pursue what he believes is true love, Nick watches with curiosity. When Gatsby reminisces his magical encounter with Daisy, it “remind[s] [Nick] of something-an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words that [he] had heard somewhere a long time ago” (111). Nick describes Gatsby’s story as “appalling sentimentality” which signifies the raw emotions Gatsby feels for Daisy and demonstrates he had not given up on the possibility to love. However Nick, like the rest of the Lost Generation, is disillusioned and had forgotten what it was like to hope and love. That belief of optimism was lost in the past. He tries to remember and be “reillusioned” as “[the] phrase tried to take shape in [his] mouth but “[it] made no sound, and what [he] had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever”(111). Nick is quietly stuck, watching Gatsby chase the hope in the American Dream- a dream the Lost Generation had given up on.
James Gatz’s transformation from innocence to corruption, exemplifies the cause for the Lost Generation’s disillusionment. Gatsby’s actions and emotions represent his true self: the person before he changed his identity. His clumsiness symbolizes his inability to adapt to the upper class just like his “smile with a quality of eternal reassurance in it” describes the innocence he had in the past (53). But to reach his dream, he had to give up his morals by resorting to illegally selling alcohol and even disregard killing Myrtle just to continue his pursuit. Many of the “newly rich people” of the time who were not part of the old wealth “are just big bootleggers”, symbolizing the loss of morality Americans and Gatsby undergoes to reach their dreams (115). Gatz’s change represents the negativity in the past the Lost Generation was trying to avoid. They realized the corruption that came by solely focusing to achieve an aspiration and as a result, stopped dreaming. Gatsby loses his true self by pursuing his one purpose while the Lost Generation...

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