Morality In The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby (1925) written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the 1920s as an era of radical moral decay and a preoccupation with material accumulation. The Great Gatsby narrates the story of Jay Gatsby, a man whose life revolves around the desire to be reunited with his lost love Daisy Buchanan. The pursuit of his American Dream leads him from poverty into great wealth and prestige. His obsession with his dreams, led him to engage with immoral methods in obtaining wealth and eventually his ultimate downfall. After WWI ended in 1918, America experienced an enormous economic expansion with upper and middle classes enjoying increased affluence. This time period, known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’, was a time of extravagant parties, easy money …show more content…
Fitzgerald challenges the idea that the wealthy were inherently happy with aggressive attitudes towards women and races made evident. Fitzgerald represents this discomfort through the characterisation of Tom Buchanan. Fitzgerald employs imagery to relay the enormous extent of Tom’s wealth. His family is ‘enormously wealthy’ (p.6), he has a beautiful wife and owns a luxurious estate. In spite of his status, he constantly boasts and belittles others. (2011, Tom Buchanan in the Great Gatsby). Fitzgerald juxtaposes Tom’s immense wealth with an underlying feeling of discontentment, contradicting the ideal that with wealth comes happiness. His “Eyes flashing about restlessly.”(p.7) indicates that his wealth, did not live up to its hype, as the materialistic culture caused discontentment and a constant need for reassurance of one’s status in society. Racist attitudes emerged as a result of the constant pressure to maintain one’s image. This becomes evident in a dinner conversation where he states “If we don’t look out the white race will be utterly submerged.” (p.13). Tom’s racism is a facade for his fear of romantic dreamers. Romantics such as immigrants and new money, pose as a threat to the established rich in that Tom believes they will take away his social prestige. Moral decay regarding issues of sexism were also made …show more content…
Fitzgerald recognises that the romanticised version of the American dream portrays an image that any individual can achieve success in life regardless of family history or social status if they word hard enough. However through the symbolic setting of the Valley of The Ashes, Fitzgerald exposes the flawed concept that all people have the opportunity to obtain wealth through hard-work. The Valley of the Ashes is situated between East and West egg, a direct juxtaposition of the realities of Americans, conveying the jarring sense of poverty in the area. (2011, Valley of Ashes). It is a desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes, representing social decay with the rich indulging themselves next door to the poor who are losing their vitality living among dirty ashes. Bleak imagery such as “Men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” illustrates the idea the wealthy turn a blind-eye to the plight of the poor, so much so that they resemble the ‘powdery air’. Additionally, Fitzgerald utilities the character George Wilson to represent the hopelessness felt by lower classes. “Mingling immediately with the cement colour of the walls.” (p) conveys the idea that the lower classes are permanently bound to a poor lifestyle despite promises of the American dream stating hard-work will create wealth. Ironically, Wilson who had earned his money

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