Corruption In The Great Gatsby

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In the post World War One era where alcohol and flappers are prominent, the story of The Great Gatsby is told in first-person narration by Nick Carraway. The story takes place in the 1920s, in New York City, which is a symbol of wealth, materialism and “meretricious beauty” (Fitzgerald 98). This symbol is what causes New York in the 1920s to be seen as a corrupt time period where Gatsby is corrupt himself. Gatsby is a criminal; he is so focused on the materialistic ideals of the world that he is turned into a criminal, and is essentially one with his corrupt time period. This way he lives, where his life revolves around money and crime, is what causes him to create a dream. Nick Carraway picks up on this gift Gatsby has and is able to portray it to…show more content…
When Emerson defines himself as an individual, he states: “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think” (365). This statement leads to the assumption that the conflict forms when an individual opposes the majority, which in The Great Gatsby, the majority would be the 1920s society as a whole. Fitzgerald suggests that Gatsby defies society in that his myopic pursuit of Daisy disallows him to see the reality of present time. He is blinded by the perfect, “incorruptible dream” (154) where he and Daisy can be happy together and is unable to see that his dream is unrealistic. The conflict between Gatsby and his inability to view present time, as he is “living” in his myopic dream, implies that he is an individual in that he does only what concerns him and does not care what others think about his actions (356). Gatsby’s ability to act as an individual under Emerson’s definition is what discloses the idea that New York in the 1920s is corrupted because materialism and “meretricious beauty” (98) are valued more than traditional ideas such as trust, values, and the pursuit of
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