The Grand Illusion in The Great Gatsby Essays

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The American dream is a farce. Hopeful American children and quixotic foreigners believe that freedom will lead to prosperity, and that prosperity will bring happiness. This anticipation of joy will never come to fruition, and all these unfortunate people will feel that they were cheated out of happiness by some unlucky roll of dice, but really they have been chasing cars, because the American dream is not something one can truly capture, but only smoke trapped in the palm of a hand. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby’s lavish parties, characterized by music, dancing, and illegal alcohol, are a representation of the corruption of society’s values, and are filled with guests only concerned with material things as they step further and further away from the moral values that once dictated the lives of those before them. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s parties to illustrate the “roaring” twenties as a time of gluttonous people who have abandoned moral values like wrecked ships in a storm of trivial desires as they chase the happiness that the American dream promises.
At the numerous parties that Gatsby throws, what is first apparent is the beauty and splendor of the party, but many of the guests are only there in attempt to make business connections to put themselves ahead in the economic world. At one of Gatsby’s parties that is attended by Nick, the narrator, he is “struck by the number of young Englishmen dotted around; all well dressed, all looking a little hungry, and all talking in low, earnest voices to prosperous Americans” (Fitzgerald 42). When Nick sees all these foreign men he is “sure that they were selling something: bonds or insurance or automobiles. They were at least agonizingly aware of the easy money in th...

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...twenties looked to the “new-rich,” like Gatsby, and believed that they themselves could walk alongside this self-made upper class without the hard work that was once believed to be the only factor in success and happiness. People like Gatsby created an illusion for the rest of the country that distorted the idea of the American dream, and broke down the protective walls that moral values put around hopeful young Americans. In The Great Gatsby, the twenties are depicted as a time of rebellion from moral values, and Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s parties as a utensil to demonstrate this loss of moral values in post World War I America. The “roaring” twenties were a time of great social decay, and Gatsby’s parties are a symbol for the moral degradation that occurred everywhere in the twenties, from the valley of ashes to the drugstores, where you can buy anything nowadays.

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