The Great Gatsby

‘The great Gatsby’ is a narration by Nick Carraway of the life story of a rich businessman, Jay Gatsby. Nick moves to the east to work in bonds and becomes a neighbour to the famous Jay Gatsby who is known for his large parties. Gatsby is madly in love with Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan, who is already married to Tom Buchanan. The story traces the journey of Gatsby trying to achieve this dream of having Daisy. While visiting the Buchanans, Nick meets the famous golfer, Jordan Baker, with whom he pursues a tiny little affair. The story also has Myrtle Wilson, who is Tom’s mistress. Myrtle’s husband, George Wilson, is domineered by Tom and is unaware of his wife’s affair. F. Scott Fitzgerald has very well knitted a story of romance, misery and ambition around these characters.  By this story, Fitzgerald is trying to bring out the concept that greed for money does not bring happiness, rather paves path for misery.

The story is set in 1920s when Americans were prospering and everyone was aspiring to make more and more money, just like the characters in this movie. The world soon saw what this greed for money did to America and how badly it suffered from the great depression in its later years. Money often paves way for misery and sadness and in Gatsby’s case- death. Gatsby pursues wealth in order to achieve Daisy, but neither can achieve Daisy nor achieve happiness. One can safely say that it is money that took his life away. The shiny yellow Rolls Royce was one of its kind and easily recognizable as the ‘death car’.  The setting of this event is apt as it is set around the season of autumn. Autumn naturally brings with it the ending of life natural and human, both. It is notable that Gatsby’s death is set right after his meeting with Tom and Daisy where he loses Daisy forever to Tom. The moment he loses Daisy, he loses his dream and metaphorically dies at that very moment. In this sense, his murder by George Wilson is a welcome end. The murder takes place in the pool, and it is Gatsby’s ‘first swim’ of the season. This setting symbolises a fresh start or his death. He strips off the “clothing” of his worldly image he has created for himself in order to win Daisy. The water in the pool washes the deceit off him and brings him to death, because without his artificial self of Jay Gatsby, he is as good as dead. Perhaps the most lucid statement of the story is by Wilson about Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes which is that they are God’s eyes and ‘God sees everything.’ This setting of his house is such that God sees him and recognizes his greed for money and the evil that Myrtle’s death brings in him. God takes revenge on him and he himself takes away his life in Gatsby’s garden. He knew he had been greedy, as he always asked Tom about his car and waited in the Valley of Ashes in greed of more money. Myrtle always wanted to move away, but he never cared for it. His greed took his wife away from him and in his journey to find money, he too lost his happiness. Thus, the different settings used in the novel suggest the destruction greed for money brings.

Gatsby’s character, through this story, brings out the theme of money bringing misery. He is portrayed as over ambitious, wishing to bring back the past and having everything he wants, including Daisy. Though he manages to make a lot of money, he fails to get Daisy. His desire to achieve everything makes Daisy comment, ‘Oh, you want too much!’ In this greed of wanting too much, he loses whatever little he has. He wants Daisy to be his and only his, while she is unable to say that she never loved Tom. The parties he throws, are full of pomp and money, but it brings little happiness to the host, Gatsby. He does not drink, dance and enjoy in his parties, but rather remains aloof, waiting for Daisy to wander in his party someday. The mansion, parties, silk clothes and all the expensive things that Gatsby has makes the reader feel that he has everything a person could want. This is the trap that money creates and from Gatsby’s story we realize that even though he has everything, he has nothing. Not only does it not bring him happiness, but also corrupts his moral self. He not only has to give up his real self, James Gats, but also has to constantly lie about his past. He puts up a pompous show for the world so as to make them believe that he is a high society lad. Later in life, he does all sorts of immoral deeds to get rich quick. The story consists of two kinds of wealth. One being of the Buchanans, which is inherited and helps Daisy to get away with a man’s murder, while second kind being of Gatsby’s which is newly acquired. Gatsby’s wealth leaves him vulnerable and takes his life away. Gatsby becomes aware of Daisy’s money-mindedness and comments on her voice saying ‘her voice is full of money’. Nick mentions that Daisy has a certain ‘jingle’ to her voice which he never understood what was until Gatsby mentioned that it was full of money. Even after this realization, he continues to chase after her. His dream to possess Daisy does not deter when she chooses money over love and marries Tom Buchanan. This shows that Daisy’s choice of partner depended solely on their status and affluence. Tom gave her “a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars” for a wedding gift. It is notable, Gatsby wins Daisy back with the help of his money. She plays with the expensive English shirts and enjoys the riches of Gatsby. Money is all she sees and money is all that Gatsby shows.

The story has a lot of gold and green in it. Gatsby looks out to the green light on Daisy’s dock and at his parties ‘even the turkey turns gold.’ These two are the colours of money and the story constantly reminds us that all these lives are circled around money. Nick, the narrator, is the only one who grows during the course of the story and learns what misery a fortune can bring. As stated earlier in this essay, both Gatsby and Daisy had realised that they were chasing hollow dreams but did not give up on them anyway, and money took its revenge on them likewise. Gatsby is in love with the idea of possessing daisy and not the real her. His realization of her being extremely money-minded but still wanting her is an evidence of it. Daisy is unsatisfied in her married life and confesses of being ‘cynical about everything’ and being ‘terrible’, when talking to Nick. Her marriage being based majorly on social status and money, infidelity and carelessness are evident in both Daisy’s and Tom’s behaviour. During her childbirth, Tom is not present and she comments ‘God knows where Tom was’. Tom has a mistress in the name of Myrtle Wilson, and Daisy also doesn’t hesitate in grabbing her first chance of cheating her husband with Gatsby. Daisy is very well aware of Tom’s infidelity but she chooses to overlook it, for the money perhaps. She realizes that she is a fool in doing this, because at the end of the day, it does not make her any happier. Her dialogue regarding her daughter- ‘I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool’, explains her self-image and the perspective of the world. It’s ironic that money is what she thinks she wants, but she is unhappy even after achieving it. Towards the end, Nick sees the decay money has brought into the lives of the Buchanans and he realises that “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.” Money has brought decay in their lives and a certain kind of misery. Daisy loses Gatsby, while Tom loses Myrtle and both of them have to live with that forever.

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