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The Great Gatsby, A Romantic Tragedy

F. Scott Fitzgerald constructs his novel, The Great Gatsby, so that it fits the characteristics of romantic tragedy by showing the harsh reality in direct comparison with the romantic American dream. In the novel, the romantic illusion consists of the perfect American dream of a loving wife, large family, and unimaginable wealth. At the same time, Fitzgerald shows the tragic reality of the deceitful, immoral things people are willing to go through to achieve those dreams. The novel explores not only the things people will go through to achieve their dreams, but the consequences they must later suffer in order to reach their goals. And Fitzgerald constructs his novel to include all three of these factors, creating a romantic tragedy.

The unachievable American dream, one of the most emphasized conflicts within Fitzgerald?s novel, pursued not only by one person, but instead all the characters pursued their dream in their own way. Gatsby, for example, achieves most of his goals: money and material possessions, but still lacks one thing, Daisy. ?He cried ?She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me!??(137) The passage shows how Daisy loved Gatsby, but couldn?t wait for his return, let alone the fact that he had no money, but upon his return tragically, he was too late. The consequences that Gatsby must face are that he loses Daisy to Tom and in the closure of the novel, he winds up being killed by


The Great Gatsby, A Romantic Tragedy

Mr. Wilson. His losing of Daisy is the result of confusion, while his death is the consequence of the many immoral relationships and the manipulative personalities of numerous people within the novel, further enforcing the argument that the characters are willing to endure anything to fulfill their dreams.

Another conflict within The Great Gatsby bringing upon tragic/romantic results would have to be the relationship between Tom and Myrtle. Having everything that he wants out of life, Tom?s only problem that he seems to have are his relationship problems with Daisy and Myrtle because of lies. ??You mean to say you don?t know?? said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. ?I thought everybody knew.? ?I don?t? ?Why-? she said hesitantly, ?Tom?s got some woman in New York??(19) Myrtle, on the other hand tried to achieve all her dreams through Tom. Tom gives her wealth, social status, and security, all of which she wishes for, but can?t achieve through her own husband. ??The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake.??(39) All the lies that are required to keep them together are the tragic part of their relationship. The lies effect not only Tom and Myrtle, but rather, extend into others relationships creating the consequences that they must suffer. Myrtle suffers because she thinks that she saw Tom and Daisy drive by and needs to stop them, but then is hit by Daisy and Gatsby, the direct result of Tom?s deceitful pursuit of his own dream. Afterwards he mourns the loss


The Great Gatsby, A Romantic Tragedy

of one of the women that he had loved, the consequence of his misleading immoral personal quest.

The relationship between Nick and Jordan, being one of the most minor issues throughout the novel, has its share of problems, even though inferior to the other main disputes. The way that Nick feels about Jordan?s personal life brings one of the problems in their relationship. Nick states that he feels as though she could have a number of men do as she wishes at ?a nod of her head?, and that he was only another player in her game. ?She was engaged to another man. I doubted that though there were several she could have married at a nod of her head but I pretended to be surprised. For just a minute I wondered if I wasn?t making a mistake, then I thought it all over again quickly and got up to say goodbye.?(186) The passage reinforces the idea that Nick firmly believes that she unfairly has control over so many people, which undoubtedly shows one of the flaws in their relationship. Jordan and Nick?s argumentative personalities and opposite views would be another defect in their relationship. Nick, being one of the most honest characters would only be mismatched with someone else such as the fraudulent Jordan. Nick implies Jordan?s being fraudulent because of the incident where she had been suspected of cheating in a golf tournament. ?I had heard some story of her too, a critical, unpleasant story?(23) Although Nick and Jordan?s relationship didn?t have the dreadful


The Great Gatsby, A Romantic Tragedy

consequences of the others, it did get Nick deeper involved in the other character?s lives, therefore entangling him in their lies and deceit.

Fitzgerald?s novel explores the consequences that are brought upon those who lead selfish/deceitful lives. The relationship between Daisy and Gatsby is an example of the grave consequences that lies can bring up, as well as the love that leads you to those consequences. Tom and Myrtle?s relationship is another great example of how one?s selfishness can lead to another?s destruction, even death. While the relationship between Nick and Jordan is used to show the outrageous contrast between a normal couple with ordinary differences compared to the horrible outcome of the other two misleading relationships. The relations with all the characters in the novel enforces the point that F. Scott Fitzgerald indeed constructs his novel, The Great Gatsby, so that it fits the characteristics of a romantic tragedy.

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