The Great Gatsby: Can One Live on Dreams Alone?

1880 Words8 Pages
Set in the 1920s, The Great Gatsby stands as an American masterpiece, and the story, altogether authentic to the Jazz Age, unfolds themes universal to any other American era. Moreover, in many ways, the novel, published in 1925, created a universal picture of the decade, a picture paradoxically pessimistic and optomistic. As Fitzgerald wrote, "It eluded us then, but that's no matter-tommorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby also resulted in two movies. In 1949, Elliot Nugent directed The Great Gatsby that starred Alan Ladd as Jay Gatsby, and a cast which included Macdonald Carey and Shelly Winters. The 1974 version directed by Jack Clayton starred Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, and more accurately portrayed the themes Fitzgerald expressed in the novel. The later film successfully captured the careless lifestyle and moral decadence of America in the 1920s that fascinated Fitzgerald and his audience. Gatsby throws wild parties, in which he does not know a majority of the guests who attend. The parties last into the early hours of the morning while guests run around in drunken stupors which ultimately become a metaphor for the shallowness and aimlessness of discarded or forgotten pasts, while booze symbolizes American society's decadence. In recreating the sense of disillusionment that followed World War I, the movie also graphically depicts the Prohibition era, Gatsby's involvement in bootlegging and other notorious crimes in his association with Meyer Wolfshiem. On a larger scale, the movie manifests one of the profound themes of Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby as well as o... ... middle of paper ... ...emplary and monitary figure- that he epitomized his generation, that he had not fulfilled his promise, that his history provided a warning. . . None of the obituaries anticipated that Fitzgerald would be resurrected like Adonis, the beautiful youth adored by the goddess of love." The Great Gatsby is more than an entertaining story. One sees oneself in the story, and the story serves as a catalyst for a deep self-evaluation. Can one live on dreams alone? Can money buy love and happiness? Fitzgerald's insightful story asks these questions, but it is up to the reader/viewer to determine his own answers, answers that shape his own destiny. Both the book and the movie The Great Gatsby, provide the history student with some searching questions about values, society, and the ways in which eras of American History shape the historical mores and perceptions of a generation.
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