Lies And Deceit In "The Great Gatsby"

1258 words - 5 pages

Lying has deadly effects on both the individual who lies and those around them. This concept is


demonstrated in The Great Gatsby. Although Gatsby, Tom and Myrtle have different motives for being


deceitful, they all lie in order to fulfill their desires and personal needs. Myrtle's desire to be wealthy is


illustrated when she first meets Tom, dressed in his expensive clothing, as her attitude changes when


she puts on the luxurious dress and when she encourages Tom to buy her a dog. Tom's deception is


clear when he hides his affair with Myrtle by placing Myrtle in a different train, withholding the truth


from Mr. Wilson of the affair and convincing Myrtle and Catherine that he will one day marry Myrtle.


Gatsby tries to convince himself and others that he is the son of wealthy people, he creates an


appearance that he is a successful, educated man through the books in his library and assures himself


that Daisy loves him. Tom's dishonesty reveals that he is selfish, while Gatsby's distortions expose his


insecurities, and Myrtle's misrepresentations show that her sole focus in life is to achieve materialistic


success. Gatsby and Myrtle both lie in order to obtain the "American dream." However, Tom, who


appears to already have achieved the "American dream", deceives others out of boredom and because


he takes his wealthy lifestyle for granted. F. Scott Fitzgerald demonstrates the human flaw of


dishonesty for personal gain and how lies have inevitably tragic consequences in his characterization of


Gatsby, Myrtle, and Tom.


Jay Gatsby is dishonest to himself to and those around him which ultimately leads to his failure.


He lies about his past, his family, and his accomplishments in order to achieve his version of the


American dream, which is to win over Daisy. Nick informs the readers that Gatsby's "parents were


shiftless and unsuccessful farm people- his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents


at all" (Fitzgerald 95). Not only does Gatsby try to convince others that he is the son of wealthy people,


but he also tries to convince himself. Because Gatsby knows that Daisy sees success through status, he


is willing to misrepresent his parents. He also creates the appearance that he is successful through the


extravagance of his home. While at Gatsby's party, an 'owl-eyed' guest discovers Gatsby's books and


declares:

It's a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled


me. This fella's a regular Belasco. It's a triumph.


What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when


to stop, too - didn't cut the pages. ( Fitzgerald 47)


Gatsby's books symbolize intelligence and education. This outlines the issue of appearance


versus reality which is...

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