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Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper

Supreme Court Judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said, “In my thirty years of legal experience, I have never witnessed money helping a victim, although I have seen it pretending to help them.” In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, the main character, Jay Gatsby attempts to rekindle his long-lost romantic relationship with Daisy Buchanan, by flaunting his newfound wealth and success. During the time Gatsby and Daisy were apart, Gatsby works for and attains the American Dream-wealth and success. Despite this, Gatsby feels like he lacks love. Thus, he moves to Long Island and takes up residence across the bay from Daisy in the hopes that Daisy will become attracted to him and love him because of his wealth. By describing vivid settings and relationships and by displaying ever-changing tones throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald educates the reader about the myth that money fixes problems of the heart, social problems and past problems.

Fitzgerald paints a portrait of 1920’s social status by pointing differences between the residences of Gatsby and the Buchanan’s. Gatsby represents “new money” and lives on the less exclusive West Egg, Long Island. Tom and Daisy Buchanan represent “old money” and live on the more exclusive East Egg, Long Island. In addition to separating the “Eggs” by social status, the homes of Gatsby and the Buchanan’s differ as well. The Buchanan’s live in an older, more traditional estate. “Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian colonial mansion overlooking the bay” (11). On the other hand, Gatsby’s mansion is a newer home that, “?was a factual imitation Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, sparkling new under a thin beard of raw ivy?” (9). Case in point, the “old money” like the Buchanan’s, frown upon Gatsby’s “new money.”

Love and the problems it causes presents itself as the major theme in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The love of Gatsby and Daisy, as superficial as it seems, has a definite possibility of working out. When Gatsby does not return from the Great War, Daisy decides to marry Tom, a man of money and social status. Daisy gets caught up in society and thinks that Tom enables her to live a dream, “For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year?” (158). Consequently, Daisy marries Tom and they climb the summit of the social mountain. However her relationship with Tom proves void of love. Tom fills this void with his mistress, Myrtle, who also finds discontent in her marriage. In fact one character relates the mismatched pairs, “?why go on living with them if they can’t stand them? If I was them I’d get a divorce and get married to each other right away” (37). Fitzgerald portrays wealth and social status as false guarantees of success in love.

The tone of The Great Gatsby reveals itself through an endless parade of parties and social occasions, which make the reader feel intrigued by the mystery, that is Gatsby. Partying, a definite theme in this book, pops up repeatedly. A refuge to the everyday loneliness that Gatsby feels, his parties are grand in scale and extravagant in taste. “Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruitier in New York-every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves” (43) On the other hand, the first formal encounter between Gatsby, Daisy and Tom proves confrontational. Fitzgerald reminds the reader that serious feeling hang in the balance and the party has concluded. Gatsby has waited a long time to tell Daisy of his feelings and his anxiety permeates as an underlying tone. Anxiety yields to desperation, as Gatsby grapples with the seriousness of his feeling for Daisy, “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). It does not matter how much money Gatsby amasses because it will never erase the past between Daisy and Gatsby.

Gatsby defines the victim in question as Holmes referred it. Wealth did not help Gatsby gain a foothold on the social status ladder. Wealth did not help Gatsby win back Daisy, or erase their past together. By using setting, relationships and tone, Fitzgerald wrote an incomparable novel that teaches the reader some of life’s lessons. Fitzgerald breathed life in Gatsby, he absolutely embodied a ‘green light,’ in his hopes and his dreams. Fitzgerald made it clear that no matter how much a man acquires he always yearns for more and wants something he cannot have. Gatsby, as hopeful as the ‘green light’ he symbolized, never reached that vision of a future with Daisy. Instead he pretended that money would solve all his problems. Perhaps this is the most important lesson of all. The Great Gatsby brings new meaning to the saying “money doesn’t buy


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