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The characters are irresponsible dreamers'' - The Great Gatsby

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Introduction

"The characters are irresponsible dreamers''. How far and in what ways do you agree with this view of The Great Gatsby? The Great Gatsby is an effective novel in epitomising the relentless struggle of many to achieve the American dream. The economic boom and the radical change in society following the First World War may have contributed largely to the idea of the American dream. Fitzgerald portrayed in The Great Gatsby the stark contrast between the rich and the poor whilst revealing a common similarity - a hope in attaining the American dream. The novel follows the dreams of members of entirely separate social classes and encapsulates the thwarted dreams of both the prosperous and the underprivileged, through immoral and irresponsible actions. Overall, it can be said that The Great Gatsby summarises the way in which society's definition of the American dream morphed from that of achieving happiness to acquiring monetary effects. Daisy Buchanan can be regarded as one of the foremost 'irresponsible dreamers' in the novel. Her personality appears to reflect that of a child's. She often acts fickle, immature and is constantly seeking attention. An example of this is on page 15 where Nick mentions "I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean toward her." ...read more.

Middle

Myrtle's character represents the average working class citizen of America. However, her affair with Tom grants her a few of the luxuries that other ordinary working class citizens would not be able to attain. For example, she says "I'd like to get one of those police dogs" (page 33). This extract shows that with the advantage of Tom's wealth, Myrtle can afford to be fickle. Her irresponsibility lies with her belief of a rise in social standing through her relationship with Tom. Her attitude to others of her own class, changes, perhaps signifying a corruption of innocence. When Tom and Myrtle host a party in their apartment, Myrtle acts in a patronising manner towards Mrs McKee, rejecting her compliments and offering Mrs McKee her clothes (page 37 and 42). Fitzgerald may have written it to show that the American dream was not necessarily morally justified, for when Myrtle achieved aspects of the American dream - wealth - she behaved haughtily. However, readers may argue that Myrtle was not irresponsible, as she was only pursuing the chance for a better life. Myrtle may have seen her affair with Tom as a means of obtaining this "better life" and so her actions were justifiable. Her death represents the slow disintegration of the American dream. ...read more.

Conclusion

This could perhaps be regarded as wasteful and irresponsible of Gatsby by readers. However, it can be argued that Gatsby was influenced by his love for Daisy and therefore his extravagance was justified. It is suggested in the novel that Gatsby made his wealth through engaging in criminal activities. However, as it is not directly mentioned, it cannot entirely be regarded as another of his irresponsible actions. In general, it can be said that Gatsby's irresponsibility stemmed from his pursuit of Daisy's love, and so readers are often more empathetic towards him than any other character in the novel. Moreover, Gatsby's representation of the American dream appeared to be the only one that did not centralise on monetary gain - another aspect that draws sympathy from readers on his death. To an extent, it can be agreed that the characters are irresponsible dreamers. Readers however, may be at a disagreement over which character holds the biggest responsibilities. Daisy can be seen as one of the most irresponsible characters as she played a great role in the death of Myrtle and therefore her action had a greater consequence. The American dream also plays a part in the irresponsibility of characters as it is often their pursuit of their dreams that leads them to make immoral and irresponsible decisions. Fitzgerald's depiction of the "roaring twenties" and the unprecedented distribution of wealth revealed an alarming aftermath of social and moral decay. ...read more.

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