F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story The Great Gatsby tells about the reality of living in the 1920’s. The main character Nick Carraway moves to the east coast to get rich quick. He moves into a small house that is dwarfed by his neighbors. The occupant of the house across from Nick’s is a man named Jay Gatsby. Gatsby started off as a poor man and made his way to the top by hard work, but also, illegal bootlegging. The money that he had acquired meant nothing to him though, unless he could share it with a woman named Daisy Fay Buchanan. She was his lover when they were younger but their relationship couldn’t last because Daisy had a wealthy background and Jay was poor. Jay moved to East Egg just to be near Daisy, who lived with her new husband Tom Buchanan. Jay threw huge parties every weekend in hope that one day Daisy would show up. Jay and Nick became good friends, and Jay used Nick to get hooked up with Daisy. When they do eventually meet their relationship is much like that from the past. During a small party, the problem arises that Daisy is married, and when confronted with the choice between Jay and Tom she chooses Tom. After the party, Daisy drives Jay home in his car, and on the way hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, a woman that Tom was having an affair with. Her estranged husband, thinking that it was Gatsby hunts him down and kills him. Through the experiences of the
character Nick Caraway, Fitzgerald reveals his isolation and fixation towards society and wealth during the 1920’s.
Fitzgerald first illustrates his attitude towards society when he shows the isolation of Jay Gatsby as a reflection of himself. “Fitzgerald created Gatsby with a sense of his own election,” and made his life with similar circumstances to his own.(Marius Bewley, Modern Critical Reviews, F. Scott Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald being the artist was removed from society and always looking from a distance. At nights Gatsby would feel, ” A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host who stood on the porch.”( F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, page 60). The figure on the porch is Fitzgerald who felt empty and alone. Jay felt ” The aloneness of love, the force and mystery that so many have extolled and so many have cursed.” ( James Baldwin, The Creative Dilemma). Gatsby couldn’t achieve his dream and was shut out from the rest of the world. Fitzgerald and Gatsby were both forms of artists and were both isolated from their worlds.
Fitzgerald next illustrates his fixation on money when he writes about the city. ” High over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering.” ( F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, page 40).This quote also backs up the ideas that he is alone and on the outside looking in. Fitzgerald
believes that he is the ” casual watcher ” who is on apart from what was happening inside. The color yellow symbolizes excitement and
gold. Fitzgerald was attracted by the wealthy but he didn’t trust them or consort with them.
Fitzgerald finally illustrates his passion for money through the character of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is fascinated by wealth because he is fascinated by Daisy. Everything about her remind him of money. Things that he has distinguished like the “single green light ” at the end of Daisy’s dock.( F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, page 26). The color of the light symbolizes money. Even Daisy’s voice reminded him of money. He wrote about it when he said, ” Her voice was full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it….”( F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, page 127). . The woman that Jay loved was much like Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda. ” Daisy is a portrait of the American woman of her class, and in some ways is not unlike Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda. In fact her remark that she had hoped her daughter would be “a beautiful little fool” is almost precisely what Zelda said after giving birth to her own daughter.”( Philip Northman, Cliffs Notes on The Great Gatsby, page 44) . The character Jay Gatsby was just a reflection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s thoughts and emotions.
Through the character of Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals his fixation towards society and wealth during the 1920’s. In his book The Great Gatsby, there are direct quotes from Fitzgerald’s life. Fitzgerald used his characters to portray his feelings of being isolated
from society and his love of wealth. Jay Gatsby is the best example of this because the woman that he is attracted to, Daisy, is the stereotype and image of wealth. Fitzgerald much like Gatsby was alone and removed from the rest of the wealthy society.
1) Baldwin, James. The Creative Dilemma.
2) Bewley, Marius. Modern Critical Views, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Los Angeles California : Chelsea House Publishers, 1985.
3) Northman, Philip. Cliffs Notes on Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Lincoln, Nebraska : Cliffs Notes Inc. , 1966.