Free Essays - Immorality and Corruption in the Great Gatsby

Free Essays - Immorality and Corruption in the Great Gatsby

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Immorality and Corruption in the Great Gatsby




In the novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald many of the characters could not be classified as a truly moral, a person who exhibits goodness or correctness in their character and behavior. Nick Carraway is not moral by any means; he is responsible for an affair between two major characters, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Jay Gatsby does show some moral qualities when he attempts to go back and rescue Myrtle after she had been hit by Daisy. Overall Gatsby is unquestionably an immoral person. Nick Carraway and Gatsby share many immoral characteristics, but a big choice separates the two. Daisy Buchanan is an extremely immoral person; she even went to the lengths of taking someone's life. Jay and Daisy are similar but Daisy is borderline corrupt. The entire story is told through Nick Carraway's point of view and by his carelessness it is obvious the narrator possesses poor values.


Throughout the entire novel it is clearly portrayed that Nick Carraway is not a moral character by any stretch of the imagination. Nick Carraway may seem to have some good values, but he is in fact immoral for many reasons. First, Nick uses Jordan Baker; he never actually became interested in a serious relationship with the golf star. Miss Baker is basically just a fling to him. Secondly, Nick Carraway always seems to be the middleman in all the trouble that is going on in the novel. The narrator knows about all the lying, deceiving, two-faced things that are going on throughout the story, and he is completely ok with it. Also Nick defends Gatsby even though he very well knows of all Gatsby's criminal activity and liquor smuggling. Finally, Nick is the character who sets up two of the main characters, Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, to have an affair. It never crosses Nick's mind that it is an immoral thing to set up an affair. During the novel there is a discussion between Gatsby and Nick about when to set up the secret meeting with Daisy. During this exchange Nick actually says, "I'm going to call up Daisy tomorrow and invite her over here to tea.

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.. What day would suit you?" (Gatsby, 87) Nick even went through the trouble to set up a perfect meeting for the two. That just shows that Nick has no good values and is not a moral person.


Gatsby is also in no way a moral character, but he does show a respectable moral backbone in some parts of the story. The main character, Gatsby falls in the same boat as Nick. Basically Gatsby's entire adult life has been motivated by something immoral. All Gatsby wants to do is gain the love of another man's wife, and he will do anything to get it. Jay Gatsby manages to acquire all of his money to impress Daisy Buchanan by being a bootlegger. Gatsby sells illegal alcohol during the time of prohibition. The man shows some morals when his Daisy hits Myrtle Wilson with his car. Gatsby tells Daisy to stop and return to the accident, but she refuses. He then pulls up the emergency brake and takes the driver's seat himself. Even though he had shown some ethics, his mind went right back to Daisy's decision to not be with him and not about the woman she had killed. Nick describes Gatsby after that night by saying, "However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past" (Gatsby, 156) Gatsby was just in a car that killed a woman, people would think his mind would be off his obsession! Instead he takes the blame for Daisy. The incident further enhances that even though Gatsby does have a moral system, it is very one-dimensional.


Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby have similar moral systems but there is one major point where the men differ. Gatsby and Nick Carraway are both ok with lying, deceiving, tricking, etc. Both men involve themselves in immoral affairs with women. Gatsby tries to steal another mans wife and Nick uses a young golf star for a good time. The men also share the same dream. "The American Dream" to be a self made man. Nick though, unlike Gatsby, knows when to abandon this dream. Nick first comes to the realization that he has to get away from his dream when he says,


"That's my Middle West ... the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark.... I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly inadaptable to Eastern life."


Nick realizes that the East is connected with a fast-paced lifestyle, immoral parties, and bad moral values, while the West is associated with a more traditional moral system. Nick then decides to move back to the West. The difference between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby arrives when Nick realizes his moral failures and did something to help them.


Daisy Buchanan is one of the most immoral characters in the novel. First, she plays with Jay Gatsby's heart. Daisy knows that she will not leave her husband for a life with Gatsby, but she uses him to nevertheless to entertain herself and to get back at Tom for cheating on her. Secondly, Daisy Buchanan purposely killed Myrtle Wilson with Gatsby's car and the shallow, careless, immoral Daisy did not even stop or look back once. After she killed Myrtle she went home to conspire with Tom. Nick describes the feelings between the two by stating, "They weren't happy... and yet they weren't unhappy either." (Gatsby, 152) Daisy is just a complete immoral character all-around.


Daisy and Nick have both similarities and differences. Some major similarities are that they both essentially play with another person's heart. Nick fools with Jordan and Daisy fools with Gatsby. Also Nick Carraway and Daisy are both ok with the deception and lying throughout the novel. One major difference between Nick and Daisy is that even though both of them do not approve of Gatsby that much, Nick is nice enough to show up at his funeral and pay respect to him.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's, "The Great Gatsby" is based around immoral characters. Many of the characters in the story have a poor moral system. The majority are interested on living the fast-paced, immoral lifestyle of the East. Nick Carraway is the middleman in all of the immoral failures throughout the novel. Jay Gatsby has a moral backbone, but he still tries to steal another mans wife. Jay and Nick are very similar but differ in one major decision or realization. Daisy Buchanan is borderline evil, she went as far as murdering someone. Nick and Daisy Buchanan are to some extent similar but Daisy could be one of the most immoral people in the story. No matter what is written or said the greater part of the characters in The Great Gatsby cannot be portrayed as a moral person.



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