Motherhood In The Life Of James Gatz: Based On F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

3772 words - 16 pages

The Greaty Gatsby is not only Fitzgerald's best work, but it is one of the greatest pieces of literature to ever have been published in the United States. This all time classic offers an accurate depiction of the Roaring Twenties, as it exposes the decadence and loss of morality hidden beneath the luxury of the times. Popular interpretations present the novel as a critical review of class issues and the social situation existent in the 1920s, as well as Fitzgerald's commentary on the American Dream. The author's own biography is often referred to in an attempt to fully grasp the underlying meaning of the novel. However, switching one's attention from the historical context to something more elementary, such as the psychology and life of Jay Gatsby himself, may be rather insightful. Perhaps, the aspects that draw the reader's attention the least are the ones that are most significant. Reading The Great Gatsby through the perspective of his relationship to women, his mother and Daisy in particular, can shed new light on his behaviour. Within Gatsby's wonderful mansion, beneath the expensive clothing, lives a motherless child. His passionate love of Daisy is not strictly a result of her beauty and social class. It has a far more profound meaning. Gatsby's mother was not the only maternal figure he had. Daisy played the same role in Jay's life, from the moment they first kissed, to the moment he died.
"I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west – all dead now," Gatsby tells Nick (Fitzgerald, 1968). Although, it later becomes apparent that this statement was a lie, the character is expressing his sincere "desire to psychologically kill [his] parents" (Tyson, 2006). This coincides with a refusal to accept their existence and the denial of his past altogether. The poverty he experienced as a child, the lack of glamour and elegance he was exposed to later in his life, and a feeling that his mother and father could not offer him everything he needed led him to reject them as his family. Nonetheless, their lack does not stop Gatsby from being described as a child. Nick describes him as "a son of God" (Fitzgerald, 1968). While Gatsby's mother is non-existent in the novel as a character, maternal symbolism is most definately present. To Nick, he was "delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor" (Fitzgerald, 1968). The character described is an unearthly individual, seemingly almighty, perfect, and completely self-reliant. The only mother he acknowledges is this "purposeless wonder". Gatsby leaves home and in his mind he sees only himself as the son of this metaphorical mother; he appears to be ignorant of reality. The way in which Gatsby develops as a human being is unnatural and is sure to backfire at some point.
According to Jacques Lacan's (1901-1981) psychoanalytic theory, feelings of loss and lack are an inseparable part of the human identity. They are a result of the lost union one had with one's mother as an infant....

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