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"The character of Jay Gatsby symbolises the corruption of the American Dream in 'The Great Gatsby.'"- To what extent do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

"The character of Jay Gatsby symbolises the corruption of the American Dream in 'The Great Gatsby.'" - To what extent do you agree with this statement? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. This is a dream. It's a great dream." Martin Luther King, Jr As evident in the words of Martin Luther King Jr, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are key aspects of the life of any human being. This American dream is a major preoccupation throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, 'The Great Gatsby', and is no more apparent in any feature than in the character of Jay Gatsby. When studying literature, we often search for an extraordinary character. Jay Gatsby, has such a unique personality that narrator Nick Carraway, feels he may never again find a person similar to Gatsby. Throughout the novel, Gatsby remains determined in his goal to reunite with Daisy. His love and passion for the pursuit of a dream never subside, and his true dedication to Daisy and eventual self sacrifice highlight the strength of his character. In a time when the economy was thriving, and lifestyles were extreme, the contemporary scene, the extravagance of Gatsby's parties, the superficiality of the guests, and the hint of Gatsby's involvement in crime all identify the American setting in the era of the roaring 1920's. ...read more.

Middle

Following the literal death of Gatsby, Nick leaves the East, possibly due to the realisation that the past must be accepted in order to live in to the future, something that Gatsby failed to do. If this idea is pursued, it could be argued that in this sense Gatsby is representative of the corruption of the American Dream, and that others may learn from his mistakes. The parties that Jay Gatsby was known for, where his guests would party, eat and drink until the night was over, effectively overwhelmed his persona, Gatsby was simply an observer of his own parties. This is where the idea of 'self promotion' becomes evident. Gatsby's parties are an effective method of self promotion, both to society and to Daisy. Many of the guests would make an appearance simply to be reported in the local newspapers, having no real knowledge of their host, and having no conversation more stimulating than to gossip about the host of these fantastic parties. The "pulp less halves" and the "empty" guests, appear to be nothing but soulless beings intrigued by image and wealth. "Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruitier in New York-Every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his backdoor in a pyramid of pulp less halves". Although ironically, it can be argued that the people entering the party were never 'full' as the fruits were. As chapter four opens, Nick reveals a list of those attending one of Gatsby's parties. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Great Gatsby is an excellent portrayal of the corruption of the American dream as more immoral values filled the nineteen twenties society, showing us the way in which American popular culture became simply hedonistic. The main character, 'Jay Gatsby' is the only one whose personality is preserved to the end of the novel. This unique personality, his appreciation of beautiful things and the surrender of his own life mark him as an extraordinary person. Gatsby desperately seeks Daisy's love, and love is often valued as pure, although throughout Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby', it is portrayed as corrupt and almost dangerous. Following the theme of 'poisonous' love, one can look at the terrible irony that is Gatsby's love for beauty. Such love is a key instrument in his death, as his beautiful love Daisy was driving his beautiful car, ("He saw me looking at it in admiration...I'd seen it. Everybody had seen it") when it struck, and killed, Myrtle Wilson. Gatsby's two most beautiful possessions had combined to set off a corrupt chain of events that would end in his brutal murder. Gatsby's sacrifice to protect Daisy could almost prove the title of Fitzgerald's novel correct, as it is true that Gatsby's personality, eye for beauty and sacrifice make him a worthy recipient of the title "Great." However, Gatsby's dream is ultimately shown to be worthless. Daisy is proven to be unworthy of such a sacrifice, and Gatsby's failure to realise this almost seems to lessen our admiration of the character. Despite this, one must agree with Nick, that Gatsby is indeed, within such a society as ruled the 1920's, "worth the whole damn bunch put together. ...read more.

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