The Search for Utopia in The Great Gatsby

1141 Words5 Pages
In Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the reader discovers multiple interpretations of utopia. Each character is longing for one particular paradise. Only one character actually reaches utopia, and the arrival is a mixed blessing at best. The concept of paradise in The Great Gatsby is “a shifting, evanescent illusion of happiness, joy, love, and perfection, a mirage that leads each character to reach deeper, look harder, strive farther”(Lehan, 57). All the while, time pulls each individual farther from the moment he seeks. There is Myrtle Wilson's gaudy, flashy hotel paradise in which she can pretend that she is glamorous, elite, wanted and loved. She clings fiercely enough to this threadbare dream to brave the ire of Tom Buchanan by voicing her jealous terror that he will return to his wife. There is a desperation to her full, vivacious style of living, she wants so much to escape the grey, dead land of the Valley of Ashes that she colors her life with any brightness she can find, be it broken glass or diamonds. Nick describes land she finds herself in as a wasteland, a desert, saying "this is the Valley of Ashes -- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air" (Fitzgerald, 27). It is from this that Myrtle is trying to escape, this life-in-death valley that epitomizes the underbelly of New York's glitter and lights and finery, and this that she is dragged back to by the dawning jealous rage of a normally unassuming husband. To run away from the grey and the death, the colo... ... middle of paper ... ...any falls from grace, Nick alone resurfaces, burdened by his understanding of the entirety of the tragedy. Works Cited and Consulted: Claridge, Henry, ed. F. Scott Fitzgerald: Critical Assessments. 4 vols. Robertsbridge, UK: Helm, 1992. Donaldson, Scott, ed. Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Inc, 1995. Lehan, Richard D. F. "The Great Gatsby": The Limits of Wonder. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Rowe, Joyce A. “Delusions of American Idealism.” In Readings on The Great Gatsby. edited by Katie de Koster. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press. 1998. 87-95. Trilling, Lionel. "F. Scott Fitzgerald." Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby." Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 13-20.
Open Document