Disillusionment in The Great Gatsby Paper

Submitted By faithnation
Words: 1295
Pages: 6

Following World War I, the United States fell into a state of disillusionment. Between 1921 and 1928, Americans throughout the United States were completely distraught with the turnout of the war. Before the war, a substantial percentage of the country believed the United States had “turned the corner” and finally become a stable country. However the aftermath of the war disproved this idea. Once a stable and prosperous country, with heavy influence on its inhabitants, the United States became a place of distress and anger towards the government, because of the uncalled turnout of WWI. Written in the 1920’s, The Great Gatsby prominently covers the theme of disillusionment throughout the novel in various ways. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald highlights the theme of disillusionment through the misconceptions of the upper class and the failure of the American dream. Many of the ideas and perceptions of the upper class are completely misconstrued. The idea of truthfulness between characters is disregarded and irrelevant for them. In the beginning of the novel, Gatsby shares that both of his parents are deceased. However, at the end of the novel following the death of Gatsby, his father arrives at his funeral. Tom also continuously lies about his affair with Myrtle. Although Daisy is suspect about the whole affair, Tom never outright confesses to his wrongdoings. Wealth in the novel portrays each characters status, not their inner character. At Gatsby’s first party in the opening chapters of the novel, an old man at the party is suspect of Gatsby’s books. Upon examination, he discovers that the books are not halfway full of pages, but rather actual books with all of the pages in tact. Purchasing books that are completely full with pages show his wealth and his longing to impress others (specifically Daisy) with his extraordinary wealth. To further affirm the idea of wealth portraying each characters status, John Peale Lehan states, “Those who have wealth have an assurance that those without cannot hope to have; they dance, they play, they marry none but the loveliest girls; they beget their own” (160). Money assures that they will live a superior life to those who do not have the same monetary stability as them. Love and the relationships between each character are not cherished at all. Daisy, for example, marries Tom not because of developing a strong affinity towards him, but solely to utilize his monetary resources. She also has an affair with Gatsby for her own sexual pleasure and to additionally take advantage of his great wealth. The upper classes’ misinterpretations of these concepts contribute to the overall theme of disillusionment in the novel. Gatsby is the epitome of the American dream. He is, “the Emersonian man brought to completion and eventually to failure…”(Cartwright160). The idealization of the American Dream is unobtainable for him. Daisy, whom is Gatsby’s lover, is unsuitable for Gatsby’s persona. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, perceives Daisy as a girl who focuses on solely on having a good time and is “incapable of empathy. To support this idea, one critic states, “Daisy, for example, so enchants Gatsby and the reader who identifies with him that only in retrospect (if at all) or through the detached observer, Nick, does it become clear that she and the other careless, moneyed people in the novel are villains in the highest order” (Bloom 956). He simply means that her enchanting character is deceiving and she is simply the same as every other rich individual in the novel. Contributing to the failure of Gatsby’s American Dream is that the American dream portrays hopes and dreams, not reality. Gatsby tries to prove that anyone can reach ultimate greatness, however it is not as simplistic to climb the “social ladder” as he idealized. Gatsby is “a self-made man – a social climber who has reinvented himself and who embodies the American ideal of