The Great Gatsby is a bold and damning social commentary of America
which critiques its degeneration from a nation of infinite hope and
opportunity to a place of moral destitution. The novel is set during the
Roaring Twenties, an era of outrageous excesses, wild lavish parties and
sadly, an era of regret and lost potential. As the audience, they take us
on a journey guided and influenced by the moral voice of Nick Carraway, a
character who is “simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the
inexhaustible variety of life.” Nevertheless, when Carraway rejects the
East, returning to the comparatively secure morality of his ancestral West,
we realize that gaiety was merely a thin facade, and that behind it lurked
a hideous ugliness that penetrated to the essence of the human spirit.
It was during the Jazz generation that the common man, a man no
different to James Gatz, pursued the glowing icons of his age. As religion
gradually faded away, it was money that had become an object of veneration.
The desire to become wealthy was parceled in the form of the American Dream,
a savage ideal that was fundamentally flawed from the outset. The fallacy
of the American Dream cursed all who aspired to its promises while the
upper class enjoyed the luxuries that accompanied their status, exploiting
those below them as a means to reaffirm their superiority.
Consequently, James Gatz, under the influence of characters like
Dan Cody and Meyer Wolfshiem, underwent a self-transformation to become
Gatsby, a new man who was founded on his “Plutonic conception of himself.”
As the embodiment of idealism and innocence, Gatsby strives to cre…
…ut also the
destiny of human kind. It is a novel with a haunting tone that questions
the very essence of our pursuits in life and ultimately, the meaning of
life itself. It can only be hoped that we will heed this powerful message.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Berman, Ronald. “The Great Gatsby” and Fitzgerald’s World of Ideas. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997.
Chambers, John B. The Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald. London: Macmillan/New York: St Martin’s P, 1989.
deKoster, Katie, ed. Readings on “The Great Gatsby.” San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Simon and Schuster Inc., New York: 1991.
Higgins, John A. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of the Stories. New York: St. John’s UP, 1971.
Whitley, John S. F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The Great Gatsby.” London: Edward Arnold, 1976.