Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Term Paper

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¶ … Great Gatsby

The Elusive American Dream in the Great Gatsby

The history of America itself is the main inspiration for Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Since the discovery of the continent, America struggled between two polar tendencies: unalloyed idealism and absolute pragmatism. These opposites are not merely ideologies reflected in the American culture, but actual realities blended in the destiny of the nation. In the Great Gatsby, this opposition is reflected symbolically in the contrast between the Romantic Gatsby and the other characters in the novel, Tom Buchanan and Daisy especially. By contrast, Nick Carraway seems to represent orderliness and neutrality, while all the other characters lead a full and exuberant life. The steps of the narrative follow Gatsby's fall and that of the American Dream along with it.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Assignment

Thus, in the exposition of the novel, the action is already at its climax as Nick abruptly plunges in Gatsby's mysterious world. It is only afterwards that the reader finds out the true story of Gatsby's rise as one of the wealthiest men in the land. Thus, the first part of the novel is a picture of the Roaring Twenties and its extraordinary opulence. In this context, Gatsby represents not only the grandiose American dream, but also the human dream in general. The lavish parties he throws are perfect instances of the excesses typical of the twenties. Consumerism is reflected in Gatsby's extravagant opulence: the expensive limousine that brings the guests, the jazz bands that play the music, the machine that is able to squeeze two hundred oranges in half an hour, Gatsby's generosity when one of the guests tears her dress on a chair. At Gatsby's parties, anyone can come without having been actually invited and sometimes without even getting to know the host: "There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."(Fitzgerald, 25) This opulence paired by generosity is the perfect representation of the American dream, and stands in sharp contrast with the materialism symbolized by Tom Buchanan. Although Gatsby seems almost an illusionist at points, able to fulfill fabulous acts with his magic wand, he is actually a seeker of the deeper reality and the deeper truth in things. The incident in which Gatsby pays from a very expensive dress of one of his guests simply because the dress had been marred at one of his parties is very significant: Gatsby can work magic and create an illusion, as in fact his all invented life seems to be, but he is in fact the 'realist' of the story in so much as he is a seeker of truth and not of appearances like the others are.

In parallel with the fantastic world which Gatsby belongs to, the author introduces the opposite one. Although, on the outside the lives of Tom and Gatsby do not seem very different, as they are both characterized by extreme opulence and excess, in fact they are actually antithetical. Tom Buchanan is constructed as a foil for Gatsby, the representative of the emerging capitalism and corruption. He is violent and materialist, and seems to be the conventional symbol of self-sufficiency and safety. The opposition between Gatsby's and Tom's world is marked symbolic by the setting of the novel: the two egg-shaped parts of the Island are called the West and the East Egg. Gatsby lives, of course on the West Egg, since he represents the decline of the Western ideal. Daisy is caught between these two opposite worlds, and her choice of Tom is symbolic for the choice that the generation made between idealism and materialism. As the action progresses, Tom's and Gatsby's worlds can be more fully contrasted. Thus, while Gatsby is faithful to his dream and to his love for Daisy, and generously lavishes his money on other people, Tom Buchanan betrays… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  (2008, February 15).  Retrieved May 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald."  15 February 2008.  Web.  28 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald."  February 15, 2008.  Accessed May 28, 2020.