Jay Gatsby- The Dissolution Of A Dream

Jay Gatsby- The Dissolution Of A Dream Essay, Research Paper

Jay Gatsby: The Dissolution of a Dream

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A dream is defined in the Webster’s New World Dictionary as: a

fanciful vision of the conscious mind; a fond hope or aspiration; anything

so lovely, transitory, etc. as to seem dreamlike. In the beginning pages

of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the

narrator of the story gives us a glimpse into Gatsby’s idealistic dream

which is later disintegrated. “No- Gatsby turned out all right at the end;

it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his

dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows

and short-winded elation’s of men.” Gatsby is revealed to us slowly and

skillfully, and with a keen tenderness which in the end makes his tragedy

a deeply moving one.

Jay Gatsby is a crook, a bootlegger who has involved himself with

swindlers like Meyer Wolfsheim, the man who fixed the 1919 World

Series. He has committed crimes in order to buy the house he feels he

needs to win the woman he loves. In chapter five Nick says, “…and I

think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of

response it drew from her well-loved eyes.” Everything in Gatsby’s house

is the zenith of his dreams, and when Daisy enters Gatsby’s house the

material things seem to lose their life. Daisy represents a dreamlike,

heavenly presence which all that he has is devoted to. Yes, we should

consider Jay Gatsby as tragic figure because of belief that he can restore

the past and live happily, but his distorted faith is so intense that he

blindly unaware of realism that his dream lacks. Gatsby has accumulated

his money by dealings with gangsters, yet he remains an innocent figure,

he is extravagant. Gatsby is not interested in power for its own sake or

in money or prestige. What he wants is his dream, and that dream is

embodied in Daisy. Ironically, Daisy Buchanan, is a much more realistic,

hard-headed character. She understands money and what it means in

American society, because it his her nature; she was born into it. Gatsby

intuitively recognizes this, although he cannot fully accept it, when he

remarks to Nick that Daisy’s voice “is full of money.” Gatsby will not

admit this essential fact because it would destroy his understanding of

Daisy. In the end, this willful blindness helps lead to his ultimate tragedy.

Gatsby is a romantic, a man who began with a high and exalted

vision of himself and his destiny. He aspires to greatness, which he

associates with Daisy. If he can win her, then he will have somehow

achieved his goal. Gatsby’s wealth, his mansion, his parties, his

possessions, even his heroism in battle are but means to achieve his

ultimate goal. Gatsby is mistaken, however, in his belief that money can

buy happiness or that he can recapture his past if he only becomes rich.

One of these examples is when the epigraph becomes clear: the four-

line poem of Thomas Park d’Invilliers that Fitzgerald quotes on the title

page describes exactly what Gatsby has done. He has symbolically worn

the gold hat; he has bounced high, accumulating possessions for this

moment, so that when Daisy sees them she will cry our, like the lover in

the poem, “I must have you.” And Daisy does. These shirts move Daisy

not because they are mad of such fine fabric, or the shirts look very

well; they move her because of what the shirts symbolize Gatsby’s

extraordinary dedication to his dream. This dedication separates him and

makes him morally superior that the materialistic society with which he

lives in.. In this case one could consider Gatsby as morally superior

even when he commits an error of judgment because of a flaw in his


Gatsby is indeed morally superior to the other characters in the

book, but this superiority is another factor which contributes to Gatsby’s

ultimate misfortune. No matter what we think of Gatsby or of his

dream, we are drawn to him by the sad apprehension that dreams

themselves are often more beautiful than dreams fulfilled. Nick realizes

this, too, when he says: “There must have been moments even that

afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -nor through her

own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone

beyond her, beyond everything.” What Gatsby and Daisy have is so

much more than an endeavor; it’s beautiful, more intense, and finally

more painful in the end. There is both a joy and sadness in a love as

great as theirs. In some ways Gatsby is morally superior than the society

at the time, but this moral superiority is the cause of Gatsby’s

dillusionment dream, and inevitable fate.

Finally, Nick’s approval is what allows Gatsby to be called “great,”

but his greatness has a curious, puzzling quality to it, since it cannot be

easily or completely defined. Gatsby certainly lacks many of the qualities

and fails many of the tests normally linked with greatness, but he

redeems this by his exalted conception of himself. Gatsby has dedicated

himself to the accomplishment of a supreme object, to restore to himself

an illusion he had lost; he set about it, in a pathetic American way.

Gatsby is a man with a dream at the mercy of the “foul dust” that

sometimes seems only to exist in order to swarm against the dream. It

is a strange dream, Gatsby’s but he was a man who had hopes and

aspirations. He was a child, who believed in a childish thing.


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