The Great Gatsby Critical Essay
- Date:Jun 28, 2019
- Category:The Great Gatsby
“The Great Gatsby,” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, tells the story of Nick Carraway, a small town boy looking for adventure in thenewly established upper part of Long Island, New York. While there, he meets Jay Gatsby, a man who defines the upper social scene, but who also helps to reveal one of the greatest misconceptions of wealth. By spending time with Gatsby and other acquaintances, Nick quickly discovers that the upper class is not as glamorous as it may seem. As he witnessed the downfalls of his new friends’ lives, Nick comes to understand that wealth does not equate to a simpler, happy life.
Throughout the course of the novel, each character faces or puts themselves through an experience that comes as a result of being dissatisfied with their life. This goes against the impression that people are happier based on how much money they have. While wealth may mean that a person or family may not have to worry about financial difficulties, they are still human beings and face similar dislikes for life (Dickstein 125). Having money does not necessarily mean having it all. Even Nick, a content, naive, and well-to-do young man, gradually learns that money tends to have an adverse affect on people. He sees this firsthand in his Long Island girlfriend, Jordan, who has everything she wants, needs nothing, but continues to be dissatisfied with her life.
Jay Gatsby, who only had money and a lavish lifestyle, greatly lacked what he wanted to have a successful life. As such, he lied about the person that he was to gain the attention of Daisy, a married woman whom Gatsby had become infatuated with. Gatsby became wealthy by becoming involved in organized crime, such as distributing illegal alcohol and trading in stolen securities. However, to win over Daisy, he lied about the source of his wealth, as well as other aspects of his background. “He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone in to loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then (Fitzgerald 110).” In the process of trying to get Daisy, Gatsby destroyed himself by trying to become what he was not, even if who he really was was much worse. He had all the money he could want, but he did not have an education, he did not have the love of his life, and he had to hide his true identity out of shame.
Daisy and Tom were unhappy in their marriage. Their love towards one another dissatisfied them and they both sought the company of someone else. Daisy reacted to Gatsby’s advances and Tom became romantically involved with Myrtle, another married woman. Not only were these people unhappy in their love life and life in general, but they became so caught up in solving the situations that they destroyed the lives of those around them. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness […] and let other people clean up the mess they made (Fitzgerald 179).” Their dissatisfaction with life spread to the people closest to them.
Despite their excessive money and their ability to obtain all that they wanted, these upper class people are no happier than someone who has to go without luxuries, or even necessities. Money could only go as far as buying material possessions; they had houses, cars, clothes, and trinkets. They were able to go on luxurious vacations or throw large, lavish parties. Money could not, however, purchase true happiness. Daisy and Tom could not use money to fix their marriage, Gatsby could not use money to change the person he really was, and Jordan could not use money to fight the despair she felt. Nick realized during his time in Long Island that money can buy security, but it could not buy happiness and contentment.
Dickstein, Morris. Critical Insights: The Great Gatsby. Hackensack, NJ: Salem Press, 2010. Print.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 2004.