Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gatsby Essay

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Words: 3524
Pages: 15

Alex Guermouche
Mr. Kelly
Topics AP English III
December 13, 2007
The Nature of Dreams: Gatsby’s Failure Nick Carraway, whose eyes are the windows into the book, allows his objectivity down to pronounce, “Gatsby turned out all right at the end” (Fitzgerald, 6). This is not taken lightly by Barbara Will, who notes that Gatsby is “a figure marked by failure and shadowed by death throughout most of the novel” and is far from “all right”. As she notes, this idea holds to Fitzgerald’s style if Gatsby is looked at as an embodiment of the American dream. Throughout the novel, Gatsby has no grasp of time or reality, for that matter, and Gatsby, a man who sees everything with a price tag, symbolizes the deteriorating American morals. The transformation begins, Will notes, when Nick looks under Gatsby’s millionaire surface and finds “a vital impulse, an originary American hope”. This hope that Will pinpoints is what is noted by Nick as “an extraordinary gift” comparable to the first Americans finding “a fresh, green breast of the New World” (Fitzgerald, 189). This hope is truly what separates Gatsby’s positive view from Nick’s view of Tom and Daisy, seeing them as “careless people” (Fitzgerald, 187). Will takes these ideas one-step further and asserts that “Gatsby’s story is ‘our’ story; his fate and the fate of the nation are intertwined”. So the hungry critics preyed on the question of what caused Gatsby’s failure. It seems as though there cannot be just one answer, but Nathan Crevo’s simple answer of morality and karma combats many complex ideas. The simplicity comes from his argument that Gatsby’s discovery by Dan Cody reads further into the idea that “America is the land of opportunity, but all the opportunities that really matter are basically criminal in character”. Crevo argues that Daisy symbolizes a return to morality, and Gatsby’s inability to cope with his love for her symbolizes America’s inability to return to morality. Crevo ends his argument by adding “the only bylaw or town law that prevails in the America of the Roaring Twenties is the law of the gat” and Jay Gatsby must abide by this law or fall prey to one. Crevo’s and Will’s ideas of Gatsby clash because while Will believes that Gatsby’s inability to grasp reality is what made him “great,” Crevo believes that his inability to grasp reality is what caused his downfall. And while Will might agree with Crevo’s idea, Nick’s observation of the dream as being “incorruptible” is where the greatness is found (Fitzgerald, 155). To understand, the reader must think as though they were a part of the book; if Gatsby really wanted Daisy, he could have hired a professional killer to take Tom out and then take Daisy, whose character would never have her as a lonely woman. There are many other corrupt ideas that could have worked for Gatsby, but the fact that he tried through moral and just ways to earn a love that was – while immoral in itself – completely against the times is what makes him profound. This same idea is agreed upon by Brian Sutton, who finds Gatsby’s situation an ironic one; whereas Gatsby was the one fighting for his dreams, Daisy and Tom are the ones that come out on top. Sutton points out that whereas Tom and Daisy’s marriage survives, Gatsby is killed for running over Myrtle – something Daisy did – and for being Myrtle's lover – something Tom was. Tom and Daisy’s hopes of evading punishment for what they did succeeded because they were at the cost of someone else –not their own. The corruptness is what allows them to continue on with no remorse for the life they took. Whether it was his inability to escape from his past into reality, or realize that he was pushing for something that could never work, Gatsby’s one weakness is what led to his downfall. That weakness is, easily put, Daisy, but in a world where time and money were skewed, there was no place for Gatsby’s heart to return to the Dakota boy that he once was. He excelled, up until this