The Theme Of Happiness In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

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The cliche that money cannot buy one happiness clearly applies to The Great Gatsby because its primary focus is showing the upper class of American society in the 1920’s as unhappy. The essence of this book looks into the lives of these seemingly blissful people and concludes that their constant pursuit of pleasure denies them joy. The constant pursuit of pleasurable gain portrayed by Fitzgerald cannot result in gratification because there is no ultimate pleasure; it is just a fruitless chase that leaves the participant feeling empty. This perspective accompanied by the novel 's utilization of the desires of Jay Gatsby, motifs, and symbols reveals the theme that pleasure is an illusion of happiness.
Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Gatsby’s wishes
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One example is when Catherine lies about Daisy being “a Catholic [who does not] believe in divorce” in order to justify her sister’s plan with Tom to elope (Fitzgerald 33). Having to defend this “elaborate” lie is a nuisance for everyone trying to hide the affair (Fitzgerald 33). When pleasure is made priority, it creates complications that impede on happiness. This specific act of lying in order to conceal Myrtle’s promiscuity is shown to hurt Catherine when she says, “that her sister had been into no mischief whatever… and [cries] into her handkerchief, as if the very suggestion [is] more than she could endure” (Fitzgerald 164). Catherine is not only anguished about Myrtle’s death, but she is also regretting that Myrtle had lived a sinful life. The pleasure Myrtle has in her affair therefore can not bring her happiness because Myrtle can not experience well-being when her sister is heartbroken. Perhaps, the greatest example of cheating’s inadequacy is when Daisy tells Gatsby “that she [loves] him, and Tom Buchanan [sees]” (Fitzgerald 119). This leaves Tom shocked as “if he had just recognized [Daisy] as someone he knew a long time ago” (Fitzgerald 119). Tom’s pursuit of pleasure with Myrtle does not bring him joy because it results in a greater separation between him and Daisy, which ultimately causes Daisy’s cheating, making him sad. Thus, when Tom is hurt by …show more content…
Even though the 1920’s was supposedly a time of new festivities and prosperity, people who chased after indulgences were not truly gratified. Fitzgerald would agree that the wishes of Gatsby, motif of cheating, and symbols of Eckleburg and the Valley most effectively bring forth this message. Gatsby gives the example that money and materials cannot bring joy, the motif establishes that chasing pleasure brings grief, and the symbols expose the Jazz Age’s plethora of luxuries as insignificant and undesirable. Each of these demonstrates that Fitzgerald saw through the pleasant facade of the 1920s, and as such, might have anticipated an end to the period similar Gatsby’s

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