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Although to the casual reader The Great Gatsby may only appear as a poetic muse on the seemingly endless rollercoaster that is love, if one plunges deeper into this novel it is easily discovered that not only is this the quintessential grail quest but it is quite plainly a search for the American dream. Gatsby plays a duel role in this piece of American history; he is both the Holy Crusader, seeking his own personal Cup of Christ, and the Cinderella story of Fitzgerald's masterpiece. If this novel could be boiled down to its very core little would be left but this very sentence "the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther..... And one fine morning-"(GG189). This is the core; this is the beautiful epiphany at the end of one man's hell, this is the light at the end of the long tunnel of greed and hatred. Even if one only scratches the very surface of this piece, he or she would see that Gatsby's rise to power, his personal torment and inevitable downfall, and Nick's final realization about what life is truly about all lead to the conclusion that a dream corrupted is still a dream worth having.
First and foremost Gatsby is nothing more than a man in search of his own dream and he will let nothing stand in his way.
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Then, of course, comes the inevitable downfall of the great Gatsby which further displays the corruption of his dream. Once again, Gatsby is swept up into a fantastic triangle of love, deception, and greed. Daisy and Gatsby are reunited and the flame between them is rekindled. Gatsby's overall motto, "Can't repeat the past Why of course you can!"(GG106) shows his utmost disdain for regrets and losing. He displays this disdain by constantly trying to relive his younger years and his long lost love of Daisy. Nick describes his passion to relive the past best, when he states "He had committed himself to the following of a grail,"(GG142) the grail in this case is both Daisy and his dreams of wealth and power. Gatsby's search turns into a personal goal to improve himself not only for Daisy but for himself, he wants to prove to himself that he can achieve greatness no matter his background. Daisy is merely an excuse for the pressure he applies to himself everyday to improve and prove to his critics that he is worthy of their approval. Gatsby had a dream; he wanted something so bad that he would do anything to achieve it. "His incorruptible dream"(GG147) ended up corrupting the dreamer.
Finally, it is the realization that Nick comes to at the end of this masterpiece that truly makes it one of a kind. Nick is the reader's constant reminder of the moral compass of normal society. He states it best saying "Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men,"(GG8) that is to say that Nick sees Gatsby as the victim of his own dreams. Gatsby may have sought after a frivolous dream with no way of attaining it but it was not the dream that corrupted his behavior but rather it was in the seeking of the dream itself that did him in. Gatsby is constantly seen as the rock, he is the sober and sane one at parties, but inside the reader knows differently, the reader sees an inner torment that ends up destroying a man and all of that which he has made for himself. And it is in that destruction that we see the true foully of seeking after only one dream for ones entire life. Gatsby was sick with a dream, a seemingly unattainable illusion of a woman and a place in a society that spat at your feet, it is this sickness that drives him mad with passion and lust for an illusion that not even Daisy herself can live up to. Once again Nick serves as a moral guide stating "It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well"(GG118), and once again we can see that if not for this corruption, this unhappy ending there would be no masterpiece, there would be no lesson learned, and there would be no legend of the Great Gatsby.
One could read The Great Gatsby can get little more out of it than a twisted love story about three deranged socialites, but the rise, fall and final realization about a dream, not only of a woman, but of a new life are really what this masterpiece is about. Nick is the navigator of this observation into the world of the human heart, he shows the reader the simple truth that dreaming is what drives Gatsby and all humans to pursue even the most insane notions. It is only when this dream starts to haunt the dreamer that it becomes a sickness that eats away at an individual until they only have one reason to live, and that is to complete their quest. Against all odds Gatsby takes on the world to prove himself worthy of a love that should have never been, he is the true American. He makes something from a life of nothingness, he is the great Gatsby. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."(GG189)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1995
Revision-Notes.co.uk. Great Gatsby Quotes, March 14th 2005,
Pink Monkey, The Great Gatsby summary and notes, March 13th 2005 http://pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmGreatGatsby01.asp