The Great Gatsby

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Amidst the exceedingly prosperous decade of the 1920’s, traditional American lifestyles and principles were interjected by the new superficial and materialistic beliefs closely associated with “The Roaring Twenties.” Undoubtedly, the 1920’s were a decade of change.

Deteriorating moralities and optimistic beliefs of overnight wealth replaced strict traditional views on religion, family structure, and work ethics. In an era of such high optimism, the pioneering spirit of the American Dream was revitalized. The nouveaux riches often clashed with the established wealth, as evident throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s narrator, Nick Carraway, suddenly finds himself submerged in the paper-thin morals, and shallow values of upper-class New York after migrating from the Western interior. Throughout the novel, Nick is highly cynical of American society. Thus, The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s means of criticizing the worsening family structure of American society, the newfound materialistic lifestyles of Americans, an American society governed by corruption, and ultimately, the paradox of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s characters and his own personal beliefs seem to suggest that he is mocking the weakness of American family life during the 1920’s. Throughout the novel, the most prominent of Fitzgerald’s characters are involved in extra marital relationships. The fact that these relationships are seen so often, clearly suggests that Fitzgerald is attempting to portray a weak bond between married couples. The weak relationship between the Buchanan couple as well as the Wilson couple are proof that. In addition, it should also be noted that Fitzgerald’s relationship with his own wife, Zelda, who The Great Gatsby is dedicated to, was highly romantic and severely strong. Fitzgerald had endured to attain his love for Zelda, and was faithful to her for much of his life. However, the fact that Fitzgerald creates characters who seem to contradict his own beliefs, seem to suggest that he is making a mockery of the weak marital bond common in American society during the 1920’s.

Many of the characters in Fitzgerald’s novel are portrayed as shallow and materialistic, which accurately reflects the mindset of the 1920’s. However, because Fitzgerald chooses to reveal these characters so thoroughly and frequently suggests his intentions of critic...

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... criticism of the deteriorating of American family structure, the shallowness of American materialism, the power of corruption, and the emptiness of pursuing an American Dream during the decade of the “Roaring Twenties.”

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald illustrates the problems in society during the 1920’s.

He criticizes the worsening of family structure by choosing characters that have little or no value of the bond accepted during marriage. He questions the power that accompanies wealth, and reveals the shallow values of the era. Finally, Fitzgerald denounces the pursuing of an American Dream, suggesting that it is unattainable, and merely a fantasy fuelled by the urge to fulfill it. However, he acknowledges its importance to American society. The Great Gatsby is not considered the great American novel solely because it criticizes the lifestyles of the 1920’s, instead, it can be considered a success because it reveals the true meaning of pursuing an American Dream. It presents the idea that an American Dream is not a dream of prosperity, but a dream of perseverance, because the dream will always “beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (172)
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