Monday, January 9, 2012

The Great Gatsby: Essay

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The Great Gatsby Essay

“Ideals and dreams are for losers” In your reading of The Great Gatsby how far do you find this to be true?

I believe that ideals and dreams lay the foundations of happiness in our lives. Any human who coasts through life without ideals or dreams, lives a rather meaningless existence. Without anything to work for people lack the character building aspects of life and become lonely, beings without passion, which is the case with Tom and Daisy Buchanan.

Throughout this story Tom’s high class, inherited wealth, life style clashes directly with the American dream ideals of both Nick Caraway and Gatsby himself. Nick, our main character, describes the Buchanan’s as “drifting here and there unrestfully” when referring to Tom and Daisy’s travels. This use of emotive language is used well in describing the meaningless lifestyles of both Tom and Daisy. It just so happens that these two characters are the weakest of the story so how can dreams and ideals be for losers? This theme coupled with Tom’s infidelity in married life forces the reader to believe that Tom is some kind of bad guy when he infact commits no crime other than having a weak character and “shining arrogant eyes”.

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However Gatsby’s character contrasts Tom’s personality in just about every possible way. Gatsby leads an eventful life when he joins the army earning praise from his superiors and leads his battalion into conflict when he later becomes a major. You can’t feel at least a little sympathy for Gatsby when he leaves the army to find that his former lover has married a rich athlete in New Haven, which once again casts a negative light on Tom. Gatsby then joins the bonds business becoming a successful millionaire moving to a mansion on West Egg. This rags to riches theme associated with Gatsby is reminiscent of the American dream and popular with readers. I believe that Fitzgerald has deliberately made Gatsby the underdog in this story to garner support and this is fairly obvious considering the story is titled “The Great Gatsby”. However even this fairytale lifestyle of Gatsby isn’t the result of having ideals and dreams but rather determination and the support of illegal practice as we find out later in the story. So where do ideals and dreams play a part in this story?

I believe the main character; Nick is the symbol of ideals and dreams. Nick’s ideals are inherited from what seems to be a wise upbringing. At the beginning of the story Nick tells of how his father told him “whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the same advantages you’ve had”. Nick then goes on to describe the Caraway family as being “prominent, well-to-do people” and comments on how his grandfather’s brother started a wholesale hardware business, which his father carries on to day. As the reader you get a sense that Nick and the Caraway family have worked hard for their modest wealth, which contrasts Tom’s inherited wealth. Dreams are mentioned when Nick is telling of the many qualities he finds in Gatsby. One quote I found particularly interesting was when Nick says “it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person”. Nick has tremendous respect for Gatsby’s achievements and dreams of living the American Dream. Strangely enough Nick also finds inspiration in his lady friend Jordan Baker. In a world of polite fakeness Nick is curious of Jordan’s no-nonsense personality, which contrasts everybody around him.

I believe that Nick is portrayed to the reader as a wise bystander and maybe Jordan is the only character who could have pulled Nick out of his shell.

In conclusion I do not believe that ‘ideals and dreams’ are for losers. These very ideals are what make up our personality and dreams give us something to work for. Without either of these qualities we will fall into a hopeless rut from which we may never recover. Honestly without ideals, dreams and curiosity I wouldn’t bother to get up in the morning. Not everyone can inherit a fortune either so we are often forced to have dreams in fear of failure. I believe that the only losers in ‘The Great Gatsby’ are Tom and Daisy who happen lack any kind of ideals or dreams.

Written by Todd Hunt

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