Themes in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
The American Dream
On first glance, The Great Gatsby is about a romance between Gatsby and Daisy. The true theme behind this wonderful novel is not merely romance, but is also a very skeptical view of the extinction of the American dream in the prosperous 19s. This loss of the American dream is shown by Fitzgerald's display of this decade as a morally deficient one. He shows its incredible decadence in Gatsby's lavish and ostentatious parties. This materialistic attitude toward life came from the disillusionment of the younger generation of the old Victorian values. Also, with Prohibition in effect, illegal bootlegging practices made for yet another way for Americans to fall down the path of greed, pleasure, and decadence. Nick and Gatsby represent the skeptical younger generation fed up with the "old ways." Gatsby's involvement in organized crime is his turn from the American dream of pursuit of happiness and the individual to "sit back, relax, and watch the money burn." Gatsby throws away his morals by trying to impress Daisy through getting obscenely rich. His goal to return Daisy and himself to their past as lovers is ruined and not reached by his own means of trying to get there. This is just the same as the American dream- money and decadence ruin it.
"I wouldn't ask too much of her,' I ventured. You can't repeat the past.' Can't repeat the past?' He cried incredulously. Why of course you can!' he talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy."
The Social Class Clash
Another theme in The Great Gatsby is one that is very evident throughout the novel. It is the conflict between the new wealthy class of self-made men and the "old rich." This is most noticeable in the physical separation between them. The new rich live in West Egg and the old rich live in East Egg. The new rich people are not yet acclimated to being upstanding citizens so they are not well connected in the social world, not to mention their...