Scott Fitzgerald’s classic twentieth-century story of Jay Gatsby’s quest for Daisy Buchanan, examines and critiques Gatsby’s particular vision of the 1920’s American Dream. Written in 1925, the novel serves as a bridge between World War I and the Great Depression of the early 1930’s. The idealism evident in Gatsby’s constant ambition helps define what Fitzgerald saw as the basis for the American Character. Gatsby is a firm believer in the American Dream of self-made success: he has, after all, not only invented and self-promoted a whole new role for himself, but has succeeded both financially and socially.
However, Gatsby hopes to obtain that which is unfeasible, at least to the degree which he desires. As the novel unfolds, Gatsby seems to realize that his idea and pursuit of Daisy is more rewarding than the actual attainment of her. Although Gatsby remains fully committed to his aspirations up until his death, he struggles with the reality of when those aspirations for his American Dream are either achieved or, in Gatsby’s case, proven inaccessible. The Great Gatsbys main and most evident theme would be the corrupting influence of wealth to the purity of a dream.
This theme is clearly developed in the characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. In contrast, the pursuit of a dream is a noble thing that gives meaning to life, as proven by Gatsby’s lifelong pursuit of Daisy. Gatsby is never corrupted by his wealth, for it is there for a single purpose – to prove his worth to Daisy. Readers will clearly see and comprehend that those living in the East lead lives of materialism and possession, that corruption has now taken over the American Dream, and lastly that money cannot buy everything.
The East is a symbol of shallowness, carelessness, and corruption, as evidenced by characters such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Meyer Wolfsheim. In contrast, the Midwest is a symbol of morality, conservatism, and practicality, as shown by Nick Carraway. Nick had tried to flee from his Midwestern morals by going to New York, but instead he became horrified to see that the East was completely corrupt. As a result of this Nick returns home to the Midwest.
Nick was able to see that his cousin and her friends were all corrupted by their money in a variety of ways. Daisy was born and married to wealth. She had no values and no purpose in her life. All she did was float around from one social scene to the next wearing her white expensive gowns.
Daisy had an affair with Gatsby in result of her boredom. She did not value the feelings of Gatsby and only saw their affair as some entertainment to her life. When Daisy hits and kills Myrtle Wilson she does not stop and when Gatsby gets shot, she does not even telephone or send flowers. Daisy is only worried about protecting and entertaining herself and she does not care about others.
However, Tom is probably more purposeless than his wife. With no real career, he plays with polo ponies and race cars. Tom too has a mistress in which he rents out an apartment for in New York. He commands her to go there for his entertainment whenever he desires.
When he does not like her behaviour, he strikes and hurts her. When Tom realizes that Daisy is involved with Gatsby, he becomes enraged and confronts his wife’s lover, exposing that he is a nobody. Even though he admits to having various affairs, he says that he will always love his wife and come back to her. Daisy calls him disgusting, but refuses to leave him because of his wealth.
After Daisy accidentally kills Myrtle, the two of them flee together, refusing to own up to any responsibilities. “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” (188). Jordan Baker, Daisy’s wealthy friend, is a champion golfer; still, she has no morals or values. She is a liar and