The Great Gatsby is a well known novel authored by Scott Fitzgerald, an American writer. The book was published in April 1925 depicting criticism towards the American Dream. It is set in New York City and on Long Island's North Shore. Scott Fitzgerald was born in September 1896 in St. Paul Minnesota where he was raised by a single parent, his father after the death of his mother. He was privileged to attend a private school in the East an opportunity which he greatly considered as a dream come true in 1911. He later joined Princeton University in 1913 for his undergraduate studies. A famous character in the novel, Nick Carraway originated from the Midwest and moved to the East just like Jay Gatsby. Scott Fitzgerald significantly nurtured his writing skills during his study life at Princeton University. Although he was not an excellent student in academics, he started the journey of The Romantic Egoist at the University. His poor academic behavior forced the institution to place him on probation in 1917 forcing him to leave the institution minus a degree. This did not deter him from pursuing his passionate writing dream. He enrolled in the military and continued to draft his first book towards the end of World War I. This marked a turning point in his life with most of his childhood events being recorded in The Great Gatsby. Through characters like Tom, Daisy and Gatsby himself, the novel gives picture of the fraudulent description of the original American Dream.
As a military officer, Fitzgerald was meant to move from one place, missing an opportunity to be stationed in a single working station. With his commitment to military service especially after missing graduation at Princeton University because of his mediocre academic performance, Fitzgerald rose from one level to another. As a result, he became a second lieutenant and got stationed at Sheridan in Montgomery in Alabama. It was during his time at the Camp Sheridan that he met Zelda Sayre, a wild beautiful Judge’s daughter and the two fell in love. However, Fitzgerald’s dream of sharing the rest of his life with Zelda was blown in flames by his poor financial status. Since Zelda was from a wealthy family, the two were not allowed to get married despite their deep love until Fitzgerald was in a better financial position to support her. Fitzgerald sunk into a ditch of frustrations especially after failing to accumulate enough wealth that would qualify him to marry Zelda who was from a wealthy family. He was discharged from the military and moved to New York for an advertising job (Bruccoli 2003).
After Zelda realized the inability of Fitzgerald to raise enough wealth to support her she broke the engagement. This sent Fitzgerald into a drinking depression using borrowed money especially from his former classmates at Princeton University who managed to graduate after successfully completing their studies and secure jobs. He went back home in 1920 to complete his book which he began drafting while studying at Princeton University. After the publication of This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald became a wealthy celebrity convincing Zelda for marriage. The two got immersed in reckless luxury life and in 1924, they moved with their daughter to France with a lot of travelling. The release of The Great Gatsby was not as successful as Fitzgerald had anticipated leading to a decline in his career.
As mentioned before, The Great Gatsby covers a grate potion of Fitzgerald’s life. Like Scott, Nick Carraway hails from Minnesota having received his education from Yale but moves to New York after the war. Another character similar to Fitzgerald is Gatsby who equally idolizes luxury and wealth and falls in love with a woman serving at a military camp in the south. Nick mainly moves to New York to gain skills about bond business. American dream wave is seen every where especially as portrayed by various lifestyles of people. Everyone wants to be happy by easily gaining wealth. Many misinterpret happiness to be squandering wealth via luxuries and unplanned expenditure. Nick rents a house in West Egg district which is unfashionable region mainly inhabited by young rich people whose wealth is so recent to have allowed them establish social connections. These people are highly prone to visions of wealth emanating from all over the place. Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby is another person deriving pleasure and sourcing happiness in an extravagant lifestyle. He holds weekly parties mostly on Saturday at night and lives in a gigantic mansion (Fitzgerald 9).
Unlike his neighbors, Nick has several social connections in East Egg, attributed to the fact that he received his education from Yale. Nick and his cousin Daisy with her husband Tom go out for dinner one evening where Tom introduces him to Jordan Baker, a mocking and beautiful lady (Fitzgerald 19). The two get attracted to each other and begun a romantic relationship. The misconception of the American dream is also noted from the Tom’s lifestyle. From his relationship with Jordan, Nick is able to learn a little of how Daisy’s marriage is doing. He learns from Jordan that Tom is unfaithful and that he has an affair with Myrtle Wilson residing in the valley of ashes, a damping site located between New York City and West Egg. Myrtle Wilson also has a misconception of the American Dream. She finds her happiness and wants to be equal like other people by having an affair with Daisy’s wife without any shame or sense of concern of what would happen when the truth over power he mischievous conduct and intentions. He goes a head to tease Tom over Daisy during in extravagant party in which Nick is present. She unexpectedly receives a painful gift of a broken nose from Tom (Fitzgerald 125).
Gatsby is also driven by numerous misconceptions of the American Dream. He spends most of his wealth partying and drinking. He claims to have known daisy in 1917 but their friendship never materialized. He still loves Daisy and engages in extravagant lifestyle with a sole aim of impressing her although she is married. He believes pursuing the relationship would give him back happiness and a hopeful future. He therefore uses Nick as a link to Daisy since he knew that Daisy would not wish to meet him especially if she had the idea that Gatsby still had love interests in her. This plan favors Gatsby when he manages to reunite with Daisy through a reestablished affair.
Due to the misconception of the dream of having happiness derived from pleasure, luxuries and unfaithful relationships, Gatsby, Tom, Daisy and Myrtle do not find it. When Tom suspects a love relationship between Gatsby and his wife, he is more than outraged and fails to understand how Daisy could cheat on him although he is unfaithful to her by having an affair with Myrtle Wilson. The climax of drams hits when Daisy runs over Myrtle with Gatsby’s car. It is not clear to Tom and the rest who exactly killed Myrtle but Tom quickly concludes that the owner of the car, Gatsby be held responsible for the fatal incidence. Gatsby decides to take the blame and when the news reach George, the husband of the deceased hell breaks loose. He shoots Gatsby as away of revenge and fatally shoots himself. Nick organizes Gatsby’s funeral, breaks his romantic relationship with Jordan and resettles in Midwest (Fitzgerald 137). He is not happy with the kind of people that surrounded the life of Gatsby, their emptiness and heightened moral decay.
It is clear that The Great Gatsby revolves thwarted relationship between men and women. The mega theme of the novel however is composed of less romantic scenes and attributes. The novel symbolizes complete meditation of America as a whole especially during the 20th century. More emphasis is however placed on the disintegrated American Dream, massive prosperity and excess wealth. As portrayed by Fitzgerald, the 1920s era was characterized by empty pursuit of happiness and pleasure coiled with greed. These led to adverse corruption of the American dream which was aimed at being a source of happiness among Americans. It was also to establish equality among people which is not realized in the novel. Class plays a significant role in defining individuals. There were high expectations among Americans especially after the First World War Many believed that living standards were to improve and affordable lifestyle for every American. Although this was partly achieved, young people who had fought in the war remained disillusioned. Life continued to favor the old rich with expansion of the stock market as they scorned the young rich.
Nick and Gatsby represent cosmopolitanism and cynicism which was found immediately after the war. There is greedy fight for wealth as seen from many speculators who attend several parties organized by Gatsby. There is a clash between the old and new money illustrated by East Egg which denotes the upper class as the West Egg connotes the self-made wealth. On the other hand, the fortunes of Gatsby and Meyer Wolfshiem imply the emerging of Organized crime in the new America. As noted by Fitzgerald through Nick, the American Dream was categorically aimed at individualism, discovery and pursuit. However, as depicted in the novel, it was corrupted by easy social values together with easy accumulated wealth. This corruption of the dream has bred the pursuit of wealth with dishonesty and greed. Nevertheless, the era of dreaming and the dream itself is no more. Through characters like Tom, Daisy and Gatsby himself, the novel gives picture of the fraudulent description of the original American Dream.