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The Great Gatsby Virtue Analysis

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America contains many authors who have tried to help society live better lives, ones of felicity as Benjamin Franklin so aptly referred to. Authors, such as Franklin, taught his reader, through his biography that the best way to achieve happiness was to better oneself, through at least having the appearance of virtue. F. Scott Fitzgerald taught people that living life with honesty and not facades were the best ways to live life. Fitzgerald is responding through Gatsby to Franklin in what he has to say about how to achieve happiness. Fitzgerald does not necessarily agree with what Franklin says in the sense that just having the appearance of virtue is enough to achieve a happy life. What Fitzgerald believes is that people in society need to…show more content…
Franklin teaches that while living out virtues is a good, the appearance of them can work just as well. Franklin comments on humility, the hardest of virtues for him to learn that “I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it” (Franklin 113). This means that Franklin never achieved the virtue, but was good at having the facade of it. Gatsby applied this mentality of appearance to himself when it came to his riches. An example of this is Gatsby’s grand estate, covered with new ivy, a symbol of wealth. He appeared to have a great amount of money, but people questioned how he obtained it. The most concerning thought of people was that it came through bootlegging. This suspicion was true as Gatsby and his colleague, Wolfsheim “bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter” (Fitzgerald 141). The Great Gatsby is set up during the prohibition era, where the selling of alcohol was illegal due to the dangers it caused. This shows that his wealth was a lie and was obtained through illegal means. In addition to the facade of wealth, there was also the facade that Daisy belonged to Gatsby. Daisy had dated Gatsby five years prior, but because of circumstances, Daisy married Tom and had a child. Daisy and Gatsby rekindled their relationship for a while, but Gatsby was asking too much of her and trying to repeat the past, which he believed he could do. At a pivotal moment in the novel, Gatsby demands that Daisy says that she never loved Tom, but she says “ I can’t say I never loved Tom, …, It wouldn’t be true” (Fitzgerald 140). Daisy can never say she did not love Tom as at one point she did. Gatsby was trying to regain something he had in the past, and had the appearance of it
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