Jay Gatsby in the Great Gatsby
The desire to pursue the American dream propelled Jay Gatsby from poverty to wealth, enabled him to be reunited with his beloved girlfriend and eventually, led to his death. Gatsby’s story epitomizes the typical life of young Americans from humble families and their struggles to succeed in life. His life revolves around the desire to make more money and reunite with Daisy Buchanan; a lady he fell in love with five years earlier. The 1920s was really tumultuous period in the history of America because of the increased immigration, cases of xenophobia and income inequality. Moreover, America was also experiencing economic boom which motivated people to believe that it is possible to become rich regardless of class, nationality, race, or gender can become successful in life through sheer hard work. In this respect, the story presents Gatsby as someone obsessed with his dreams and strives to achieve them by all means.
Jay Gatsby had a larger-than-life persona in the story. It is this persona that propelled him from poverty to wealth because he was hardly contented with the aspect of remaining in North Dakota to become a poor farmer just like his parents (Fitzgerald, 1995). Just like any young American born poor family, Gatsby was believed in the American Dream of becoming successful in life. He attempted to pursue this dream through honest means such as working for Cody and enrolling in Army but achieved it. He was prompted to immerse himself to the fast-paced Manhattan world in the 1920s all the name of trying to pursue his Dreams. It was during his ventures in the world of fast-paced Manhattan that Gatsby earned his fortune as a bootlegger. This aspect shows how it is difficult for people from low social class to succeed in life through sheer hard work because of the existing social-economic barriers. In most cases, people from poor background resort to criminal activities to enable them attain their ambitious dreams of becoming successful in their lives.
Through Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald manages to pass across the theme of deferred dreams in the sense that Gatsby postponed his dream of being with Daisy for five years. Gatsby realized the social class variation between him and Daisy and decided to go the World War one to earn more money and uplift his social status. However, in returning back after a period of five years, Daisy was already married and his attempt to win her back backfired (Bloom, 2010). Through Gatsby, the author seems to suggest that, certain dreams have got limited windows to be attained and once these windows have been closed, the dreams can hardly be attained. Even though, the author’s assertion appears pessimistic, it is important to understand the fact that certain dreams are fleeting. It is therefore realistic to pursue new dreams as opposed to clinging on the lost opportunity that can only cause pain to you. Gatsby decided to pin himself on the lost chance of reuniting with Daisy an aspect that eventually claimed his life in a fatal ending of his dream. The author uses Gatsby’s character to depict how young Americans from poor families continue to destroy their lives because of their ending desires to be successful.
Fitzgerald also uses the character of Jay Gatsby to demonstrate the death of the American Dream which is the fundamental theme of the Great Gatsby book. The destruction of Gatsby’s life through his unending pursuit of Daisy which culminated into his fatal death is a true manifestation of the demise of the American Dream. Gatsby destroyed his own life through constant partying, criminal activities, dishonesty and adulterous life which led to his death leaving behind all the accumulated wealth. In this respect, the author suggests that there is hardly any room for the less privileged people to work their way up. This is because people like Daisy and Tom who were born into life with immense privileges and money kept their money without any serious repercussion while Gatsby who was born in a poor family and dreamed of becoming successfully ended up dead. Gatsby tried to pursue the American Dream through hard work by working in Dan Cody’s yacht and also working in Army. However, he never succeeded in attaining his dream because even after acquiring Cody’s wealth after the death of Dan Cody, his ex-wife took away everything living him poor again. From Gatsby’s story, it is vivid that many people born from poor family background often destroy their lives upon getting more money by living lavish lifestyles full of partings consequently ending up poor again or even dead like what happened to Gatsby.
Dreams are supposed to spur up people to attain desired success, however, Jay Gatsby in this novel, appears to take his dreams for attaining an ideal life too far. This aspect causes him a lot of pain when he could have been contented with more modest dreams. Gatsby lives his life pursuing status and money in order to win back Daisy, an aspect that eventually ruins his life. The author seems to suggest the fact that dreams are very important in people’s life because they motivate you to work hard in life. However, taking those dreams too far can be calamitous in your life. For instant, Gatsby had the opportunity to live in a happy life in Oxford after his short stints in the army and as bootlegger but he was never contented with the little he had achieved. He kept on striving for more which ultimately led to his fatal downfall. The author uses this Gatsby story to describe how the desire to pursue the American dream caused pain to many Americans particularly those from humble families with dreams. The author appears to particularly mock the prevailing American’s stereotypical “from rags to riches story” by demonstrating how Gatsby manages to rise from rags to riches and then falling dramatically. According to the novel, the 1920s American dream was a charade because the desire to attain it caused more harm than good to many young Americans from humble families.
Indeed, the Great Gatsby novel entails a tragic love story. Jay Gatsby; the protagonist in the novel fell in love with Daisy during while in training as an army officer in Louisville, the love that would eventually cost his life at the end of the story. After being separate for almost five years, Gatsby comes back with the dream of reuniting with Daisy which was not was not a walk in the park. In this respect, he opts to do anything to achieve the social status that he believed was necessary for him to get reunited with Daisy. This is a manifestation of true love where people are willing to do whatever it takes to be with the one they love. Even when Daisy killed Myrtle Wilson, Gatsby decided to take the blame for this death and absolved Daisy for any murder case out pure love and it’s because of his admission of having killed Myrtle Wilson that prompted George Wilson to kill him thus, killing his dream of reuniting with Daisy. It is not clear whether Daisy equally loved Gatsby the way he loved him, but what is clear is that the existing social-economic inequalities in the American society makes it hard for somebody from poor family to marry from wealthy families regardless of whether true love really exists. Gatsby truly loved Daisy and tried to do everything even engaging in criminal activities just to get reunited with Daisy but in the end it never worked out for him. Instead, he was murdered for something he never did, an indication that love issues also continue to destroy the dreams of young men in the society especially those who are obsessed with unattainable relationships.
Even though Jay Gatsby’s dream of reuniting with Daisy is crushed abruptly upon his tragic death, the story’s narrator still believes that Gatsby was a great person. Nick Carraway who also doubles up as the novel’s narrator hates Gatsby’s extravagance and money and definitely these are not attributes that prompted him to believe that Gatsby is was a great person. Gatsby’s optimism and how he shaped his life from rags to riches and his sheer determination to attain his dreams are fundamental attributes that make the novel’s narrator and many readers believe that indeed Gatsby is great.
- Bloom, H. (2010). F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. New York: Bloom’s Literacy Criticism.
- Fitzgerald, F. S. 1. (1995). The great Gatsby. New York ; Toronto: Simon & Schuster.