The Epoch of Dream: The Great Gatsby Essay

In the novel The Great Gatsby, the author Fitzgerald has portrayed the period of 1920s as an era of degenerating and crumbled societal and ethical standards.  This is evident from the novel’s repeated sarcasm, the elaborate portrayal of insatiability, and the vivid as well as the vacant chase of pleasure.  The wild revelry that led to debauched parties and savage jazz music is symbolized in The Great Gatsby by the wealthy festivities that Jay Gatsby initiated on every night of the Saturdays. They actually epitomized the dishonesty of the American dream, because the uncontrolled craving for wealth and sensory pleasure gradually replaced the nobler goals and finally led to the death of Jay Gatsby who could be seen here as a tragic hero.  

The author in his elaborate description of his familial origin shows the importance of breeding that aristocracy or the pride that ‘blue blood’ infests in a person, “My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations.    We are descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch…”  (Fitzgerald, 7). Fitzgerald explores the critical human minds in the backdrop of complex and polygamous relationships in this novel.  Tom Buchanan himself is an adulterous person, but he reacts furiously to the issue of his wife Daisy’s affair with Jay Gatsby.  His opinion about marriage and extramarital affairs is somewhat cynical, “Nowadays people begin by sneering at a family life and family institutions and next they’ll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white” (Fitzgerald, 105).  His deep-seated hypocrisy is prominent in this speech.  On the other hand, Daisy is an opportunist and spoilt girl, always keen on staying in the center of attention of all.  She is the one who’s crazy driving kills Myrtle, but she selfishly escapes and takes the shelter of his rich husband, when Gatsby takes responsibility for the accident and faces the dire consequences.  Myrtle’s husband George learns about this incident and thinks his wife is having an affair with Gatsby and hence shoots him before killing himself. Gatsby’s desire for union with Daisy thus led to his tragic death.

The use of symbolism has been unique in this novel.  A green light here in this novel portrays a strange thread of hope in Gatsby’s life.  There is a green light in the dock of Daisy’s East Egg house, that is hardly visible from the West Egg place of Gatsby, but that is a constant hope to Gatsby signifying a fresh future for Gatsby, which he wants to spend with Daisy. In this context, Gatsby observes, “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock” (Fitzgerald, 76).  The green light, according to the author also represents the generalized ideal about new America.  Another remarkable symbol in this novel is the Valley of Ashes.  It is an area between the West Egg and East Egg.  It epitomizes the decadence in the contemporary social scenario of America. It also symbolizes the plight of the needy and deprived people.  All the motifs and symbols point out the uniqueness and the exclusiveness of the novel and push the reader to have closely adhered to it. 

After Gatsby’s tragic death, Nick arranges a little funeral ceremony for Gatsby.  Thereafter Nick shifts to Midwest, in order to get over the morbidity and disgust he acquired from the life in West Egg.  Nick feels a strong detest for the emptiness of people around Gatsby’s life, which also takes Nick into their circle eventually.  The difference is just that, Nick could break that chain, and live a separate life far from there.  The moral decay of the people almost haunts him.  Nick expresses in his realization that Gatsby’s desire for Daisy was tainted with the show of money and deceit.  This leads to the idea that the American vision of pleasure and uniqueness has crumbled into the mere pursuit of capital.  It is only Gatsby’s capability, to turn his dreams into reality, which makes him “great.”  Nick reflects that the epoch of dream— both Gatsby and the American dream have ended.   

Work Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott.  The Great Gatsby.  USA: NuVision Publications, LLC.  2008