Gatsbys Corruptive Nature



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The Great Gatsby , written by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a
portrayal of the withering of the American Dream. The American
Dream promises prosperity and self-fulfillment as rewards for
hard work and self-reliance. A product of the frontier and the
west, the American Dream challenges people to have dreams
and strive to make them real. Historically, the Dream represents
the image of believing in the goodness of nature. However, the
American Dream can be interpreted in different ways. While
some may strive for spiritual goodness and excellence, others
take the dream to represent purely materialistic values. This is
the case of Jay Gatsby, and Fitzgerald shows through conflict
and symbolism that such a materialistic interpretation of the
American Dream is the very cause of Gatsby’s downfall.
“Gatsbys personal dream symbolizes the larger American dream
where all have the opportunity to get what they want.”(Prasad
This blured version of the American Dream is represented
primarily by the conflict between the newly rich and the
established rich, the East Eggers and the West Eggers. West
Egg is the home of Jay Gatsby and those like him who have
made huge fortunes but who lack the traditions that come with
inherited wealth. The West Eggers live in a crude world, coming
from the adoption of wealth as their only standard in achieving
the American Dream. The East Eggers, represented in The Great
Gatsby by the Buchanans, have the inherited traditions that
come with wealth and lack the crudeness of the West Eggers.
They have been corrupted by the purposelessness and ease that
their money has provided. Due to their inherited traditions, the
East Eggers naturally regard any change in the social hierarchy
as a threat to the entire structure of society. An example of this
is shown when Tom Buchanan makes a remark about the
seperation of the family and eventual intermarriage between
black and white.”The idea is if we don’t look out the white race
will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been
proved. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or
these other races will have control of things.”(17) Thus, the
wealth of the West Eggers and that of the East Eggers result in
similar human differences, though shown differently. That is why
West Egg and East Egg, apppear so dissimilar, are identical.
They are both withering away from the promise of the American
Another example of the corrupt American Dream is the
automobile, a classic symbol of material wealth in America. In
The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is obsessed with a life of
materialism. He owns a remarkable automobile whose
appearance is envied by many. “It was a rich cream color, bright
with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with
triumphant hat-boxes and super-boxes and tool-boxes, and
terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen
suns.”(68) Gatsby’s car is an overblown item created by
wealth to fulfill the American Dream of personal material
success. It is, however, Gatsby’s car that kills Myrtle Wilson
when Daisy runs her over. This indirectly leads to Gatsby’s own
death and portrays Fitzgerald’s theme that basing the Dream on
materialism alone is ultimately destructive.
Along with the automobile, Jay Gatsby himself is a symbol
of the corruption of the American Dream. He is a romantic
dreamer who seeks to fulfill his life by earning his wealth as a
mobster. Gatsby does not change much in the course of the
novel because his whole life is devoted to the fulfillment of a
romantic dream created that is inconsistent with the realities of
society. At a very early age Gatsby vowed to love and to marry
Daisy Buchanan. His lack of wealth led Daisy into the arms of
another more prosperous man, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby believed
that he could win Daisy back with money, and that he could get
the life she wanted if he paid for it. He wanted to do away with
time in order to obliterate the four years Tom and Daisy had
together. Gatsby wanted to repeat the past, “I’m going to fix
everything just the way it was before. She’ll see . . .”.(117)
Gatsby’s romantic disregard for

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