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The Great Gatsby: Characters

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Introduction

We've got Character! Poor, wealthy, pretty, ugly, innocent, guilty, dishonest, and truthful: No matter what it entails, every novelistic character has specific labels and qualities that the author characterizes them with for explicit purposes. The era of the 1920's possessed various yet specific types of people. The roaring 20's consisted of a lower dress line, illegal swapping of alcohol, and most importantly, o strive for "The American Dream." Although different people had different theories, everyone believed that the perfect life was achievable. Some thought by money and status, others by the past, and still others by apocryphal love and lifestyles. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald condemns the non-ethical approach of the people of the 1920's for what proves to be an unachievable "American Dream." Through the development, symbolisms, words, and actions of his various characters, Fitzgerald criticizes and satirizes the absurdity of the society of the 1920's. Through the character of Daisy Buchanan, Fitzgerald emphasizes the mendacious, hypocritical lives of the wealthy. Daisy is often described with great innocence, like a dove, as if she "had just been blown back after a short flight around the house" (Fitzgerald 8). ...read more.

Middle

(Fitzgerald 13) Jordan is described in an ethereal way. She is depicted in shades of black and white. "They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the room." (Fitzgerald 12) Jordan's white dresses and subtle demeanor group her along with the East Egg established wealth. She appears bored and almost offended by the gaudy newly rich such as Gatsby. "You live in West Egg," she remarked contemptuously." Jordan blatantly displays her distaste for the new rich. Jordan speaks with Nick condescendingly only at the notion that he lives in West Egg, the island of the garish new rich. "It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply I was casually sorry, and then I forgot." (Fitzgerald 63) Nick overlooks Jordan's dishonesty as if it was a slight slip of the tongue. He lets it go the way he would from his cousin Daisy. Both girls embody the old aristocracy of the time. Jordan Baker is seemingly the most obvious example how appearances may be deceiving. Jordan constantly lies, the first thing Nick remembers about her is that she cheated in her very first golf tournament. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, after Gatsby is dead and he meets Jordan again, she asks him what happened to being honest and straightforward, a characteristic he was proud of. His response, "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor" (177), as well as the fact that his encounter with Tom who said Gatsby "threw dust" (178) into Nick's eyes as well as Daisy's throws doubt on his reliability as a narrator. His final insight into Tom's childishness reveals the grand possibility that everyone had thought that their actions were justifiable in their own minds. From these characters, it is clear that self-deception, lack of morals, hypocrisy, and inability to consider or understand others were qualities rampant in the 1920's. In this era, the ends justified the means and, as long as a person didn't get hurt, it didn't matter what everyone else did. And, yet, despite all of this, there is something sympathetic about these characters. In the end, no matter how horrible the means, the ends were never achieved and there is no comfort in knowing that people will change their ways. The Great Gatsby opens our eyes to the tragedy of the American Dream as well as the minds that can justify absolutely anything to get it. ...read more.

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