Free Essays - The Great Gatsby

Free Essays - The Great Gatsby

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“…And the Home of the Greedy”

As Matthew J. Bruccoli noted: “An essential aspect of the American-ness and the historicity of The Great Gatsby is that it is about money. The Land of Opportunity promised the chance for financial success.” (p. xi) The Great Gatsby is indeed about money, but it also explores its aftermath of greed. Fitzgerald detailed the corruption, deceit and illegality of life that soon pursued “the dream”. However, Fitzgerald entitles the reader to the freedom to decide whether or not the dream was ever free of corruption.
Fitzgerald used several patterns to develop the theme surrounding the lost dream. One such pattern included the emergence corruption in relation to honesty. We first witness the symbolic aspects of this when we meet Jordan Baker. We learn through Nick that she is a golfer and he further indulges that “at her first big golf tournament there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers-a suggestion that she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round.”(p. 62) Golf is universally known as the game a truth, a game in which the players record their own performances and are trusted. Through this example we can interpret that all honesty has been destroyed, and cheating is now abundant. Also, it is learned that America’s pastime, baseball, was also corrupted. “Meyer Wolfshiem? He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919.” (p. 78) This is significant because a game that was created in America, the land of the honest and the free where the dream first came alive has been tainted. This notion suggests that even the simplest of realities and recreations have long lost their innocence.  Fitzgerald even implies that those who serve and protect us have also been corrupted. We learn that Tom has bribed the police. These same men who are known as the cities finest have also had their sincerity tarnished by the same greed that has tarnished the dream.

Another pattern that is rather distinct is Fitzgerald’s suggestion that potential, life and beginnings have also been ruined. Our narrator’s last name, Caraway, is a seed, a symbol of life and beginnings. We also learn that Nick is from the West, which is where the dream originated. However, once Nick Caraway moves to the East he is soon caught up in the corruption and destruction associated with the region. Our setting, the Egg Islands, is also symbolic.

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Contrasting types of people inhabit both islands. The West egg is where Nick and Gatsby live, both former westerners, both familiar with the traditional life, the life associated with the dream. The East egg is where the corrupt reside, like the Buchanans.  However, although the West egg is not as deeply corrupt as the East egg, it too does not uphold the whole-idealized dream. This further imbeds the notion that the dream and its rebirth are dying. Also, when Myrtle Wilson is killed we learn that “her left breast was swinging loose like a flap.” (p. 145) This is rather symbolic because a woman who was from the West was killed as a result of an injury to her breast, her means of supporting life.  We are also told of “a fresh, green breast of the New World.” (p. 189) Green has always been a symbol of growth and of moving forward. However, in association to the New World we are told that this “green breast” of hope and prosperity has vanished. Both of these examples support the idea that all birth and beginnings have ceased and are now instead filled with death and grief.
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