Social and Moral Values in Relation to the Downfall of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby

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‘The Great Gatsby’ is social satire commentary of America which reveals its collapse from a nation of infinite hope and opportunity to a place of moral destitution and corruption during the Jazz Age. It concentrates on people of a certain class, time and place, the individual attitudes of those people and their inner desires which cause conflict to the conventional values, defined by the society they live in. Gatsby is unwilling to combine his desires with the moral values of society and instead made his money in underhanded schemes, illegal activities, and by hurting many people to achieve the illusion of his perfect dream.

Gatsby downfall came when he sacrificed his morality to attain wealth. Gatsby realises that the illusion of his dream with Daisy, demands wealth to become priority, and thus wealth becomes the desire overriding his need for her [Daisy’s] love. Gatsby claims to others that he has inherited his wealth, but Nick discovers "[h]is parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people" (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, pg 104) and that Gatsby has lied about his past. In a society that relies on luxuries, Gatsby throws parties to attract Daisy’s attention. Also, Gatsby expresses that same need to keep busy, just as Daisy does, in a society of the elite. Nick describes Gatsby as "never quite still, there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand" (Fitzgerald, pg 68). Gatsby fills his house "full of interesting people...who do interesting things" (Fitzgerald, pg 96). Gatsby's dream is doomed to failure in that he has lost the fundamental necessities to experience love, such as honesty and moral integrity.

Gatsby hasn’t just lost his morals but also his sense of family because he has created such an elaborate illusion. Catherine scrutinizes the couples of the story, "Neither of them can stand the person they're married to" (Fitzgerald pg 37). The marriage had become very weak when Daisy "had told [Gatsby] that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. He was astounded" (Fitzgerald, pg 125). More than his morals, Gatsby loses all sense of family, his wealth has metaphorically become it. He relies on his money rather than a family to bring comfort and security to his life. Gatsby takes advantage of his wealth to replace his deteriorated spirit and emotions. As a result of shallow family relationships, all love for that matter becomes based on social status.
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