The Pursuit of Wealth, Power, and Pleasure in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Pursuit of Wealth, Power, and Pleasure in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Hugh Hefner once said, “I looked back on the roaring Twenties, with its jazz, 'Great Gatsby' and the pre-Code films as a party I had somehow managed to miss.” The parties of the Roaring Twenties were used to symbolize wealth and power in a society that was focused more on materialism and gossip than the important things in life, like family, security, and friends. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan as the epitome of the era. The reader sees these characters acting selfishly and trying to meddle with others’ lives. On the other hand, Nick Carraway, the narrator, acts more to help others and act honestly. Initially the reader sees Carraway’s views towards Jay Gatsby as negative as Gatsby’s actions are perceived as being like the Buchanan’s. As the novel moves forward, the reader notices a change in Carraway’s attitude towards Gatsby. Carraway sees Gatsby for whom he truly is, and that is a loving person who only became rich to win Daisy’s heart. But in this the reader also sees how corrupt and hurtful Gatsby’s actions were to the love of his life. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy reveals that just as Gatsby’s dream of wooing Daisy is corrupted by illegalities and dishonesty, the “American Dream” of friendship and individualism has disintegrated into the simple pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasure.
The reader sees how much Gatsby wishes for Daisy and their past relationship, but Tom has become an issue through his wealth, power, and social status. Gatsby knows that he has to eclipse Tom’s appeal to Daisy in some way and that he would need money for this. This gets him into the illegal actions of bootlegging. In the end of the novel, the reader realizes the sign...


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...s with all of the parties and the pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasure in an era of change. The novel shows the relationship of Gatsby and Daisy as a symbol of this pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasure. The reader sees the pursuit of wealth through Daisy wanting Gatsby and Tom, both of whom have money. The pursuit of power is shown through Daisy’s decision of Tom over Gatsby as Gatsby is seen as a lower social status with little power compared to Tom who has tremendous power. Pleasure is seen through the extramarital affairs of Tom and Myrtle as well as Daisy and Gatsby. The Great Gatsby, through Tom and Daisy, reveals the human condition of the pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasure through these examples and shows that the “American Dream” is not possible in a life where one’s surroundings are pushing him/her towards a life of wealth, power, and pleasure.

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