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Happiness in The Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it is evident that happiness is portrayed as a result of material gain which comes to an end of spiritual poverty. The term material gain is referred to an individual who is selfish, rapacious and is concerned with achieving a gain of wealth which is generally an unpleasant attribute. Spiritual poverty is one who seeks a weakness within the soul and often lacks the ability to act happily and spiritually. The American Dream was something that everyone coveted. In the novel, many of the characters strived to achieve their ‘dream’, however, ideals of love, wealth, morality, ethics and the levels of the class led to the eventual fall of spiritual poverty. There are prevalent segments embedded throughout the novel which manifests ‘material gain which comes as a result of spiritual poverty’.

The happiness present during the novel, frequently concludes with spiritual poverty resulting from material gain. Jay Gatsby, a central figure of the story, is a character who devotes most of his adult life attempting to grasp his beautiful and seemingly innocent Daisy. Jay strived to reach her economic and social standards by moving near Daisy’s house. ‘Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay,’ and continues to protect and take the blame for Myrtle’s death. ‘Was daisy driving?’ ‘Yes…. but of course, I’ll say I was’. This demonstrates Gatsby’s personal desires of the American Dream and soon becomes wealthy in order to fulfil his true dream, Daisy. Gatsby’s dream of love was exposed and abused by materialistic things. F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals that each character truly glorifies only power, inherited money (old money) and social stature. This is marked throughout the novel when Daisy refuses to be with Jay since her marriage with her husband Tom secures them into the ‘old money’ prominent society. Jay was considered to never be a part of her ‘social circle’, yet still continues to fight until his dream is accomplished. However, it was never succeeded, concluding with his death. This truly highlights ‘material gain…as a result of spiritual poverty’ as all Gatsby ever wanted throughout his adult life was to continue his life with Daisy. His personal Dream was very much wanted which concluded unethically.

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Daisy was known to be a character in the novel who seeks to be the problem of material gain which concludes in spiritual poverty. She was the character who portrays the epitome of true love. Daisy’s happiness throughout the novel is based on materialistic objects, solely on money and property. ‘Her voice is full of money’. This use of metaphor engages the readers to imagine the comparison of two seemingly disconnected objects that F. Scott Fitzgerald included to admittedly compare her voice to her social class. This quote stated by Gatsby, explains the type of character Daisy displays, a character obsessed with riches who is incapable of admitting fault in Myrtle’s murder, while her voice reflects her personality. F. Scott Fitzgerald chose to show the portrayal of how the American Dream is flawed, and by using Daisy to represent this flaw since she never accepted Gatsby for he does not fit into her upper-class standards. It is monumentally evident that ‘the burden of the material gain comes as a result of spiritual poverty,’ as she experiences the loss of herself, lacking a moral backbone, being the upstanding member of high society.

F. Scott Fitzgerald chose to show forms of morality and ethics throughout the novel by focusing specifically on the characters Myrtle Wilson and Tom Buchanan. Morality and ethics are frequent issues present in the novel. The behaviours that are displayed by the characters are considered actions that are immoral. Tom Buchanan’s party in New York reveals an evident example of a lack of ethics. The purpose of this party was for Tom to indulge his affair with Myrtle, a married woman. The selected guests that were invited to the apartment soon became drunk which affected their behaviours and relationships. ‘Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!… I’ll say it whenever I want to!’. Tom then punches Myrtle in the nose, as she mentions his true wife. In addition, Myrtle is also a character who is identified as unclean, as she participates in the affair with Tom and is referred to a character who strives to be wealthy. Myrtle wishes to live a rich lifestyle with Tom and in doing so, she exhibits infidelity towards her husband. Consequently, both Tom and Myrtle ‘seek to expose the burden of material gain…comes as a result of spiritual poverty’ as they both experience a loss from two different perspectives. Tom loses the trust and hope between his wife Daisy, for he later discovers that she never loved him. Whereas, Myrtle loses her life. The unfaithful played lust they had for each other concluded with her death.

Throughout the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald tends to include and utilise symbolisation, colour, and techniques to help create meaning and emotion to the readers/viewers. Symbolisation is used to represent a character’s inner thoughts and feelings. Colour imagery such as white and green is used to convey a deeper image to the readers which helps discover an understanding of the character’s true colours. The green light at the end of the dock symbolises Gatsby’s future hopes and dreams.    

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