Essay on Trapped in a Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

Trapped in a Dream in The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a unique in that Fitzgerald does not describe the events in chronological order. Instead, a first-person narrator, Nick Carraway, presents the story as a series of flashbacks. The novel centers around its title character, Jay Gatsby, a rich West Egg citizen who is known for his exuberant parties. Before he left to fight in World War I, the Great Gatsby fell in love with Daisy Fay. He eagerly awaited his return to the United States, but by the time he had arrived, Daisy had already married Tom Buchanan. As a result, Gatsby entered a dream world, in which he was convinced that he would win Daisy back. This dream soon became the center of his life, and he did everything he could to make it a reality. This transition did no go as smoothly as Gatsby had hoped. The major conflict in The Great Gatsby stems from the struggle between Gatsby’s dream of changing the past and the reality that thwarts this desire. (Fitzgerald)

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The majority of Gatsby’s actions in the novel are geared at regaining a romantic relationship with Daisy. Had Gatsby not retained his love of Daisy, many of the novel’s events would not have happened. When Gatsby is giving Daisy a tour of his mansion, he says, “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay. You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” (Fitzgerald, 94) This green light means a great deal to Gatsby, because it represents Daisy to him. The green light is the most visible part of the Buchanans’ home from West Egg. Jordan Baker confirms that, “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.” (Fitzgerald, 79) The fact that Gatsb…

… Fiztgerald: Crisis in American Identity. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1979.


I. Introduction

II. Thesis

A. Background and conflict summary

B. Thesis Statement

III. Gatsby’s dream of regaining Daisy and the past

A. Gatsby’s mansion being directly across from Daisy’s green light

B. Trying to prove that he is financially worthy of her

C. Arranging a meeting with Daisy

IV. The connection to the present and to reality

A. Nick

1. “You can’t repeat the past”

2. Honesty and stability in the novel

B. Tom

1. Daisy is married to Tom

2. He won’t give Daisy up

C. Once Gatsby loses Daisy, he loses his dream, so he is essentially dead

V. Conclusion

A. Summarize

B. Other issues in the novel relating to the past

1. The degeneration of society

2. The novel’s closure

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