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Moral Conscience in The Great Gatsby

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Introduction

Jessica Ethier McCray English III AP 13 March 2007 Moral Conscience The nineteen twenties is a decade often referred to as the "Jazz Age" or the "Roaring Twenties". Nineteen twenties New York, is the setting for The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby, a prosperous, intelligent young man who easily falls prey to the extravagant parties, beautiful women, and organized crime of the nineteen twenties. The majority of characters in the novel give in to the same ideas, throwing their inhibitions to the wind, and overlooking morality. Two roles in the novel constantly remind these corrupt people that though they are enjoying their newfound hobbies, someone is constantly watching and judging them. Two roles, Nick Carraway and the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg represent the moral conscience of the characters of The Great Gatsby. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg symbolize the carelessness of the characters in the novel, an omnipotent God, and the corruption of society. ...read more.

Middle

The eyes constantly remind the characters that though they are enjoying their time however they do so desire, there is constantly someone watching and judging them. Conscience is a sense that "leads to feelings of remorse when we do things that go against our moral values, or which informs our moral judgment before performing such an action" (Webster). The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg constantly remind the characters that they do have a conscience, as well as a sense of morality. Though Nick Carraway introduces himself as a person who is not one to judge people, "inclined to reserve all judgments" (Fitzgerald 1), he is a figure in the novel that functions as a center of moral and "compositional activity" whom constantly judges all characters in the novel (Taylor 156). Nick judges other characters because he is "enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life" (MSN). Nick Carraway, "a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler," (Fitzgerald 4) ...read more.

Conclusion

Through the eyes and thoughts of Nick Carraway the reader is allowed to see the extreme corruptness of the nineteen twenties society. Fitzgerald employed Nick Carraway as the narrator of The Great Gatsby in order to enable the reader to feel so strongly the strangeness of human circumstance in a vast heedless universe that he has successfully embodied in The Great Gatsby. Corruption best describes the nineteen twenties: an era where extravagant parties full of gangsters and bootleggers, extensive consumptions of liquor, and organized crime were sadly common. It is rare to find a character from this time that has not fallen victim to these tempting ideas. In The Great Gatsby, most characters are involved in many of these activities though they know that they are going against any moral values they once had in doing so. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg and Nick Carraway represent the moral conscience of the characters in The Great Gatsby, the only characters that hold true to their moral values. ...read more.

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