English

  • Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 1597
  • Grade: 100
Rana Yehia

Mrs. Koszoru

AP Language and Composition

January 10, 2000

















The Great Gatsby: A Classic





















Rana Yehia

Mrs. Koszoru

AP Language and Composition

January 10, 2000



The Great Gatsby: A Classic



        In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes many universal and timeless themes to make the novel a classic. He emphasizes that most people lack insight and can not see the truth. To the majority of the society, the reality is an illusion that they create in their minds. The characters, events, setting, symbols and imagery contribute to establishing this theme.

        Myrtle Wilson, a woman of ludicrous ostentation, yearns to escape her class to enter the higher ranks. She believes a marriage to Tom Buchanan will relieve her of this lower status. Myrtle is obsessed by appearances and unaware of realities, as is shown in her excessive concern of clothing. She attempts to impress the upper society while looking down upon the members of her class. "Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the stiflessness of the lower orders. 'These people! You have to keep after them." (Fitzgerald 36) Unfortunately, Myrtle does not realize that she will never transcend her class barrier or marry Tom. Her husband Wilson, a poor spiritless garage owner, discovers the affair but continues to do nothing about it. He is a tragically broken man living in a blighted world with his own dreams of success for his business and marriage. Wilson lives in the Valley of Ashes, a desolate place in New York, where gray heaps of ashes envelop him and his garage. The symbolic ashes of spiritual desolation create the "smoky air" (Fitzgerald 35) at the party in the New York apartment, where Myrtle struggles to raise her status.

Tom Buchanan represents the brutality and moral carelessness of the established rich. He believes he is an intellectual with logical philosophies about the society. "Have you read 'The Rise of the Coloured Empires' by this man Goddard?"¦'Well it's a fine book and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be-will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved." (Fitzgerald 17) However, Tom is extremely injudicious and lacks intelligence. His concern for preserving the social status quo and the grammatical errors in his speech reveal his ignorance. He lacks integrity and idealism. Daisy Buchanan, silly and self-indulgent, drifts aimlessly through a world created by her wealth. Fay, her maiden name, suggests her ethereal insubstantial quality. Daisy knows about her husband's affair with Myrtle, but overlooks it. She is the incarnation of Gatsby's dream. Tom and Daisy Buchanan, living in eternal moral adolescence, could not face the reality of the situation they created and flee New York after the death of Myrtle, which was caused by Daisy. The two transparent figures chose to stay together for self-protection.

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made"¦." (Fitzgerald 180)

They escape to security from the dire reality they dread.

Jay Gatsby, a racketeer and romantic idealist, completely denies the reality of the present and continues to live in the past. He devotes his entire life to amassing the wealth he thinks will win Daisy and make his dream come true, even though he does this illegally. Gatsby is a bootlegger who associates with unsavory new arrivals and vile members of the underworld like Meyer Wolfsheim. The association forces Gatsby to make improbable stories about his past, all simply to win Daisy's heart. Gatsby establishes a life centered around his illusions and lies. His home in West Egg is a pretentious imitation of a European structure, filled with brand new ivory and lacking any tradition of its own. West Egg is the home of the nauveux riches, people who have made huge fortunes but lack the traditions associated with inherited wealth. Gatsby's parties are another splendid expensive illusion. Gatsby emerges as the gifted theatrical producer with an unlimited budget. He is paralleled with David Belasco, a Broadway producer known for the realism of his sets. "It's a bona fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella's a regular Belasco. It's a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism!" (Fitzgerald 50) He holds these parties hoping that Daisy will unexpectedly attend and they can reunite. Gatsby's home, wealth, and clothes are illusions, just like his image of Daisy, which he can not claim as his own.

When Gatsby encounters Daisy, he appears in a white suit, a silver shirt, and a gold tie. Silver and gold are colors of wealth and Gatsby's sartorial splendor is as vulgar as his car, his house, and his lavish entertainments. His dream is built on the illusionary promise that money can fulfil an ideal. However, Gatsby does not realize that a display of wealth without tradition is not sufficient for him to win Daisy, as seen in the difference between East Egg, where Daisy lives, and West Egg. His ultimate dream, Daisy, is simply nothing more than the image he has created of her five years ago as an adolescent. This image is more real than the reality itself. Gatsby's personal tragedy is that he can find no real connection to his spiritual capacities because he replaces Daisy with this ideal. In reality, Daisy is selfish and insubstantial. He refuses to acknowledge that Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan and has a child, a symbol of the present, named Pammy. "He kept looking at the child with surprise. I don't think he ever really believed in its existence before." (Fitzgerald 153) Even after Daisy chose to be with Tom, Gatsby still insists that he can win her over. "I want to wait her til Daisy goes to bed goodnight old sport' He put his hands in his coat pockets and turned back eagerly to his scrutiny of the house"¦I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight-watching over nothing." (Fitzgerald 180) Just as Tom Buchanan can not marry Myrtle Wilson, Daisy can not marry Jay Gatsby.

F. Scott Fitzgerld's suggestions of the society in the 1920's are true and make the novel a timeless classic. In current events, the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair supports this theme. When news first came out about the affair, Hilary Clinton refused to acknowledge its reality. She publicly denied that her husband's affair took place. As time went on, the media revealed the true story; Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. After this discovery, Hilary still remained by her husband's side. She didn't see the reality of the situation and remained with Bill for her own reasons, to gain fame and power, as Tom and Daisy Buchanan remained together for self-protection.

The Titanic, also known as the Unsinkable Ship, was the worst maritime disaster in all of history. The ship, designed by the White Star Line Company, was a huge "British luxury liner weighing approximately 46,000 gross tons." (Andrew 1) When the Titanic set off on it's maiden voyage, it carried "over 2,220 passengers and only 20 lifeboats." (Andrew 1) The ship was built originally with enough lifeboat capacity for everyone, but the deck seemed too crowded so half of the lifeboats were taken off the ship. The makers of the Titanic, creating the biggest and best ship of the time, completely denied reality and ignored the possibility that a disaster might occur, which is exactly what happened. While the great ship was speeding toward New York City, it struck an iceberg. In less then three hours, the sea swallowed the Titanic. Even though there was enough room for half the passengers to be rescued, "1,513 out of the 2,220 passengers perished" (Andrew 1) in the freezing ocean water.

The issue over the Missouri Compromise supports Fitzgeralds's timeless theme. "In 1820, the Missouri Territory applied for admission into the Union as a slave state. However, Missouri's admission would have upset the balance of 11 free and 11 slave states and would have given the South control of the Senate." (Brinkley 265) This dilemma initiated a bitter sectional debate between the North and the South. Finally, after months flew by, Henry Clay devised the Missouri Compromise to solve this issue. It stated that "Maine would enter the Union as a free state and Missouri would enter the Union as a slave state." (Brinkley 265) Thomas Jefferson saw the controversy over slavery as a speck on the horizon, which might ultimately burst into a tornado. He predicted that the compromise was just an illusion and could not dissolve the strong undercurrent of sectionalism. The makers of the compromise and the majority of Americans could not see the reality of the coming of the Civil War; they simply tried to avoid it by formulating ineffective compromises.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a timeless and universal classic. In the novel, Fitzgerald underlines that most people can not see reality and drift through their own dreams and illusions. Fitzgerald suggests that most people lack insight and only see things for their face value. The details, characters, setting, symbolism, and imagery all contribute to the theme of the novel. The Great Gatsby is a classic because its issues can be related to the past and the present day societies. Today's conflicts at the beginning of the twenty-first century and yesterday's conflicts in the 1800's compare with those of Fitzgerlad's era.































Bibliography

1.        Andrew, Luke. " Titanic." http://www.jps.net/chambers/titanic/history.htm.

2.        Brinkley, Alan, and Current, Richard N. American History: A Survey. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1991.
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