America in the 1920’s was a place for self-absorbed desires and pseudo appearances of wealth and happiness. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the audience looks through the empty lives of three characters from the novel, Jay Gatsby, and the Buchanans, Daisy and Tom. Fitzgerald uses the character's’ trials and tribulations to depict the concept that chasing the hollow American Dream leads only to misery and superfluous materialism. Although each individual had various intentions, in the end, they all displayed immoral actions and toxic behavior in attempt to attain their ideal lives.
Even Nick projects only what he wants to see upon her, after one of Gatsby’s parties. He sees her distaste for the party and says, “She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand” (114). However, Nick is misinterprets Daisy’s sentiment, she sees an awfulness in the lack of simplicity- the showiness of money repels her and her image of Gatsby in those simple days when they first met fully contradicts what she sees now. But Nick sees only what he wants to see. He thrives on simplicity, and so reduces her character and emotions to something simple enough for him to safely comprehend.
What did you always dream of becoming as a child? An astronaut? A doctor? The President? Many people tend to lose sight of their old dreams and accept a much harsher reality, yet not in the case of Jay Gatsby, the mysterious and extremely wealthy protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Set in the 1920s in Long Island, Gatsby embodies the culture of the Jazz Age as he uses his riches in pursuit of his former love, Daisy Buchanan, a beautiful woman from an affluent family.
Gatsby has spent his whole life trying to prove to Daisy and everyone around him that he is worthy of her. The only way to be on the same social level as her is to turn himself into new money. Since this is not possible, he has to try to convince to others that he truly is old money. To do this, he becomes rich, and lies about his past, but the only way for him to complete this idea is if he is with Daisy. She is the final piece in his American dream.
The “American Dream” has been around since America was founded, the idea of a “self-made” man. According to Dictionary.com, the American Dream is “the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American.” The “American Dream” can never be attained by those chasing it, and it is indeed corrupt. The dream is never fulfilled. In Fitzgerald's novel, multiple characters throughout the story are left feeling embittered. Although anyone can achieve wealth through hard work, it hardly happens in real life. By exposing the flaws and imperfections of multiple characters, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) illustrates the “American Dream” as corrupt and embittered.
As American business man, Richard M. Devos, once said, “Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none.” In the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott, Fitzgerald, Daisy, an elite socialite, is blinded by dollar signs and makes multiple decisions based on class, ultimately leading to the destruction of those who she claims to love, and without a doubt love and idolize her. Jay Gatsby has been in love with Daisy for five years, and supposedly she is with him, but she’s too impatient to wait for Gatsby while he is at war and decides to marry an arrogant, racist, and rude former college football star, Tom Buchanan, for money. Daisy is a self-absorbed, vacuous socialite whose decisions lead to the destruction of Gatsby.
After spending years married to Tom, she has become used to looking into the material items. When reunited with Gatsby she only points her attention on what he has materialistically: “They’re such beautiful shirts … it makes me sad because I’ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts before” (pg 92). The reason Daisy is so upset is because she acknowledges that she could have had multiple materialistic gains whist being married to Gatsby in a love-filled relationship. When she sees what she could have had her mirage of a perfect life begins to crumble. But this leads to her in the end resorting to her false outward appearance since it is easier for her to fall back into her lie that confront her own truth, that she is unhappy presently.
We see the characters of this book go slowly wander from their path of finding wealth and love and enter a new journey of immoral actions. By examining Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom, one can see that the journey to obtain the American Dream results in fake materialistic behaviour, unhappiness, and death. By examining Gatsby, one can see that he did anything to get Daisy’s attention and make her love him. This leads him to be extremely careless about his money and himself.
In essence, she cares so little about anything that she shows no feelings about the fact a person she loved getting murdered. Her gets perfectly stated by Nick: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald 179). Daisy feels like that because she has so much money and is part of old money, no action can impact her. No matter what bad deed she does, people will fix it for her and she will face no
The desire for love and companionship has the ability to help shape one’s sense of self, but Gatsby’s drive to fulfill that longing in Daisy became his sole focus in life and distracted him from reality. Instead of enhancing his true character, he completely lost his identity in an attempt to pursue Daisy, changing his entire life when he left “James Gatz” behind and put on the persona of Jay Gatsby. Refusing to accept his past, he lost his identity, and his sense of self was reduced to a “career” trying to be someone else (Fitzgerald 98). He spent his whole life trying to acquire money simply to fulfill the desire for Daisy’s love, since he knew “he had no real right to touch her hand” as a “penniless young man without a past” (Fitzgerald 149). Gatsby’s aspiration for love took over everything he did, as the text notes he “took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously” to try to become wealthy and satisfy his desire for love (Fitzgerald 149).
Daisy shows this by the fact that she knows that tom is cheating on her but still stays with him under the false fact that she is catholic purely for the reason that he has money. She also shows this when she talks about her daughter and her hopes for her. Before the war daisy was in love with Gatsby but he was poor and when he left for the war she moved on and got married to tom who was rich. But when the two are reunited after nick sets up a meeting and when she sees Gatsby’s house she learns that she is rich and becomes attracted to him again simply for the fact that he has money.
Trusting they are socially equivalent, Daisy never again has any misgivings about drawing near to Gatsby, who soon begins to look all starry eyed at her. After finding Gatsby 's façade, Daisy quickly "vanishes… into her rich full life" (157), staying "protected and pleased over… poor people" (156). Her recusal into the extravagances of high society reflects both her dread of dejection and scorn for the penurious. For her, riches is a basic piece of any relationship, which means Gatsby, with his absence of material belonging, is not any more an alternative. Tom, then again, is an advantageous source "of adoration, of cash, of undeniable reasonableness" (159) who can supply her with the measure of social security important to pacify her.
In the world of the novel, money and possession have corrupted the mind leading to greed and destruction. Gatsby’s intentions for throwing wild parties were not for his own pleasure, but rather to lure Daisy, who represents his success, into meeting him again. Yet, like the American Dream, Daisy is unattainable, just like her mellow voice,
Daisy never has to sacrifice anything or work hard for her own money because she inherited all her money from her parents. As Adam’s says “It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrust of it.” She does not understand what the American Dream is and how it affects Gatsby. Nick comments, “It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy---they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or in their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made…”(187).