Character Moral Deficiencies in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“All the world's a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” This quote from William Shakespeare compares the world to a stage and life to a play where men and women are just actors playing their role. This message is not so different from F. Scott Fitzgerald's in his novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). The wealthy characters in The Great Gatsby are Shakespeare’s players; and the Valley of Ashes is part of his stage, where the awful consequences of their moral deficiencies are played out. The Valley of Ashes is a desolate area of land which is covered by ashes dumped by industrial companies; it is described as a “fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat” (Fitzgerald 24). Beneath the ashes, George and Myrtle Wilson make their meager living by running a gas station next to a billboard advertising an oculist business in Queens. This billboard has two eyes looking out over the Valley of Ashes, seemingly watching and judging the characters who pass through. Here in the Valley of Ashes, the stage is set on which the superficial and material-driven characters can display their selfishness. Furthermore, the effects of their immorality are exemplified as well. Fitzgerald develops the symbol of the Valley of Ashes to strengthen the thematic idea of the effects of utter corruption and selfishness in The Great Gatsby; this can be expressed through the scandalous affair of Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, the tragic murder of Myrtle Wilson, and George Wilson's pronounced rage. Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s immensely wealthy husband, has no moral reservations about his own extramarital affair with Myrtle who lives in the Valley of Ashes. The affair begins from an innocent train ride, but Tom's own lack of moral standards contribute to the ... ... middle of paper ... ...by the mind—they do not possess any inherent meaning; rather, people invest them with meaning. Fitzgerald uses the symbol of the Valley of Ashes to further analyze the thematic idea of corruption and selfishness in The Great Gatsby. Multiple events occur in the Valley of Ashes throughout the novel, three of which exemplify Fitzgerald's theme very well: the amoral affair of Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, the murder of Myrtle Wilson, and George Wilson's manifested rage. Work Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2013. Print.
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