Jay Gatsby: Pure Corruption Embodied
The story The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, takes place in the 1920 s. It is the story of a man named Jay Gatsby who is on what he sees as a quest to recapture his former love Daisy Fay. Gatsby is a poor man who feels that he can win her back, if he acquires enough material wealth. He sees getting Daisy back as part of finally getting his American Dream. His whole life he has been chasing his American Dream of being happy. He was a corrupt man who saw only corrupt means to make his dream come true. Gatsby is not tricked by anyone into becoming corrupt, on the contrary, he willfully lets himself become corrupt all to achieve what he sees as the American Dream and finally become happy.
Gatsby, as a young man, believes that he can make his dreams come true and become great. The average American believes that you can achieve anything through hard work, Gatsby believes that he does not need to work hard, but only use people. Gatsby is born James Gatz to poor parents. He always thinks that he should have been born rich and his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents (104). He wants to be rich or famous; he wants to be a somebody, and not the poor farm boy that he merle is. He feels that he can reinvent himself into the person he thought he should be. He renames himself Jay Gatsby and leaves home. He feels that if other people think that he is the person he wants to be, then he will really become that person. He lies about where he comes from to anyone that may ask. He knows from a young age how to deceive people and he does not think twice of it. After young Gatsby leaves home, he does not work like a man driven to achieve greatness, he works , half fierce, half lazy (104). He was better at using young woman rather than manual labor. Since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others (104). From a young age Gatsby is already corrupt, but only on a small scale. He has no real driving force to motivate him, he is happy with just taking advantage of young women. It will take his obsession of getting back his lost love Daisy to take his corruptness into a whole new arena.
Jay Gatsby does not get to where he is in society by legal means; instead he achieves his wealth by illegal activities. Gatsby, as a young man, seeing no other options for himself joins the army, and while stationed in the South, meets a young woman that steals his heart. Her name is Daisy and from that moment on he wants no other woman. Gatsby feels like a changed man and he feels the only thing that can make him happy is her. However Daisy has wealth in her family and Gatsby does not. He feels that lying about the past just won t do this time. He feels that Daisy is too special and a wall of social classes stands between them. Gatsby leaves Daisy and goes to War. While away he feels that he may still be able to get her back, but Daisy marries another man named Tom Buchanon. Gatsby returns and discovers that his love has married another man. He feels that he can get her back if he can accomplish what he could not before, which is become wealthy. This drive will justify whatever Gatsby does in life to obtain his wealth. All Gatsby s business dealings are not made clear, but what we do learn about them paints Gatsby as a man with no morals. He, just as he did as a young man, looks for the easy way. He admits to his neighbor and Daisy s cousin Nick Carraway that he Was in the drug store business (95). The drug store business during prohibition meant that the person was a bootlegger. Bootlegging was a highly profitable business, but it was also extremely violent. People were often killed for their rackets (their bootlegging operations). Bootleggers were commonly associated with gangsters who carry out their acts of brutality. Gatsby does business with the notorious gangster Meyer Wolfshiem. Together , He and Wolfshiem bought up a lot of side street drug stores [in New York] and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. Gatsby is involved in an illegal and often highly violent business that ruins and ends many people s lives. He does not care about others, but only himself and obtaining his piece of the American Dream.
Jay Gatsby wants to have his American Dream come true so bad that he will lie and use people. He wants Daisy s cousin Nick to help him by inviting Daisy to tea so he can be alone with her. Gatsby does not want Nick s friendship; he just wants to use him to get what he wants. He does not want Nick to realize that he is using him so he offers to give him a job It wouldn t take up much time and you might pick up a nice bit of money (88). It is like Gatsby is bribing a man for setting up a date with him and Daisy. To Gatsby that s how the world works: you scratch my back and I ll scratch yours. There is no separation of private and business life. We see how Gatsby can treat his so-called friends when Tom tells that Gatsby uses people because he Let [one of his associates] go to jail for a month over in New Jersey (141). Gatsby will do anything to achieve his American Dream. He is willing to walk right over you. It is either you are with him, or you are against him. Gatsby only has the one view of life, that he must get what he wants in life. It doesn t matter who he uses, as long as he will become happy, though in the end it does not become a reality and all he has done, has been for nothing.
Gatsby is not a man corrupted by the American Dream, but a corrupt man driven to achieve what he sees as the American Dream. From a young age we see that Gatsby corrupts himself because he is unhappy with where he was in life. He is like a small time hood in an old gangster movie. He wants to have a better life, but at the same time, he feels that he can t move up in society. When he does more corrupt deeds later in his life he tries to justify them by saying that they are for the love of Daisy. This is not true. He does everything to better his social standing. When he changed his name he took the first step towards reinventing himself into who he saw he should be. He is corrupt before he meets Daisy, and he becomes more corrupt in his quest to get her back. Obtaining Daisy would be a sign that he would finally have his dream. She seems so unobtainable to him that he wants her more and more. The entire time that he is trying to get Daisy he tries to think that he is doing it just for love. The story The Great Gatsby gives us the message that people will try to justify their corrupt actions in order to feel better about what they are doing. Gatsby only cared about himself, therefore he is a classic example of pure corruption embodied.