How to Read Literature Like a Professor Essay Must a quest always feature an epic battle? Horses, swords, a raging fire to bath the knight in a red glow of flaming peril? Not quite. As Thomas C. Foster stated, a quest only needs to feature a hero, a destination, a goal, few or several obstacles, and an ultimate goal of self-knowledge. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald does not resemble the grandiose adventures of fairytale adventures, but his quest is one that will resonate within American culture for ages. An iconic aspect of this novel is Jay Gatsby’s chase for Daisy. Gatsby’s quest for Daisy, on the surface, appears to be a matter of love. From his life as a poor farmer, slyly maneuvering his wealth through a system of illegal activity, and eventually owning a colossal home, one of his last obstacles from being wholly united with Daisy is Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan. However, it is apparent that beneath the surface, attaining Daisy is a physical representative of Gatsby’s desire to be wealthy and respected. During the economic high of this book, many people soared in riches and material possessions while the plebs aimed to be so affluent that they could match those of established wealth, for that was the American dream. Gatsby served to represent this American dream. Gatsby wanted wealth and power, like much of the country did in the book. Though Gatsby appeared to covet Daisy in a romantic relationship, the underlying meanings of the text would prove otherwise. Daisy had a “low, thrilling voice” (13), an “exhilarating ripple of her voice” (90), yet Gatsby observed that “her voice is full of money” (127). The “jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it” (128) is what truly captivated Gatsby. His true goal was not to win Daisy’s heart, but to establish that he was of pure wealth, just like the Buchanan’s. Gatsby’s near obsession for Daisy reflected the lower class’ desire for wealth. Among what makes the quest so iconic is how it parallels the lives of the working class citizens in the book. Gatsby came from “shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” (104) and grew up to be a man wealthy enough to astound Daisy. Many people who were concerned about their financial status would start out like Gatsby, poor and apathetic even. As Gatsby became more and more successful, he tried to erase his past as it would only be an obstacle in his plan to be with Daisy. The status he started with would tag him for life. Gatsby would have to overcome his lack of wealth in order to even catch a glimpse of his prize. Even when Gatsby was wealthy like Daisy, Tom would separate himself from Gatsby stating that “’I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him and I wasn’t far wrong’” (143). Gatsby’s desire to elevate himself to the same social class would stay a desire. His chase after Daisy was like the “following of a grail” (159), inevitably fruitless. That the Buchanan’s rejecting Gatsby signals his failure in achieving his dream shows that Gatsby cannot escape his past, no matter how well he hid it. The journey he endured and the obstacles he faced mirrored the lives of the working class citizens of the United States. As Fitzgerald ties the working class to Gatsby closer and closer, the parallels constructed surrounding Gatsby’s story and the working class’ story would help illustrate the understanding how the American dream was doomed to fail.
Unlike many quests, the hero did not achieve his goals in order for Fitzgerald to communicate how he feels towards the American people’s struggle for wealth. He is unsuccessful in gaining…