How F. Scott Fitzgerald Portrays the Era of the 1920s and American Dream in The Great Gatsby Novel

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 The term “motivation” is the reasoning behind every individual’s human actions. Motivation not only applies to the factors that trigger behaviours; it also includes the factors that drive these goal-directed activities and sustain them. In “The Great Gatsby” author F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the era of the 1920s and American Dream as a period of weakening social and moral values, reflected in his general cynicism, covetousness and hollow pursuit of pleasure. Fitzgerald depicts every character’s nature of motivation through a series of conflicts and backstories. The focal incentive in the book is the entanglement story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby has dedicated himself to winning Daisy after her marriage with Tom Buchanan when Gatsby left for war. From that moment on, Gatsby devoted himself to winning Daisy back, and his acquisition of millions of dollars, his purchase of a gaudy mansion on West Egg, and his lavish weekly parties are all merely means to that end. Money has always been the key to having the “American Dream” during the 1920s.Characters such as Myrtle and George Wilson and Gatsby who come from a humble root and try to climb the ranks in 1920s New York. However another major character Daisy has old money, and thus she does not need the American Dream since she was born with America already at her feet. Therefore as for the other characters, their desires fall under a similar section which is money. This is particularly interesting because, unlike Gatsby, Myrtle, and George, who are actively hoping and dreaming of a better life, Daisy is described as bored and 'careless' and end up instigating a great deal of tragedy by her recklessness. For those reasons in “The Great Gatsby” author F. Scott Fitzgerald suggests that depending on how motivated an individual is, it may further determine the effort one puts into their work and therefore increase the standard of the product which does not always go the way an individual hopes for it too.

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The character of Jay Gatsby rose from an impoverished childhood in North Dakota to become famously wealthy. To achieve such a lofty goal, Gatsby took the path of organized crime including distributing illegal alcohol and trading in stolen securities. While Gatsby has always desired to be wealthy, his main motivation to gain his wealth was to his love for Daisy Buchanan, whom he met in Louisville as a young military officer before he left to fight in the First World War in 1917. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald slowly deconstructs Gatsby’s self-display, by having characters like Jordan and Meyer Wolfsheim have a brief storyline of Gatsby’s past when talking to Nick. Gatsby shows himself to be a naive, ambitious young man who ventures everything on his dreams, not realizing that his dream is unworthy of him. Gatsby surrounds Daisy with an idealistic vision she is unable to achieve in reality and pursues her with a relentless intensity that blinds him to her limits. His vision of disintegrating her, exposes the hypocrisy that money creates and the indignity of the target, much in the way Fitzgerald saw the American dream collapse in the 1920s as America's strong hope, prosperity, and individualism succumb to the amoral pursuit of wealth. Author, Fitzgerald uses the character of Gatsby as a perfect example of when putting excessive productivity to an ambition can very often result in betrayal and deception.”It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy—it increased her value in his eyes.”,Nick's words suggest how it is impossible to separate Gatsby's love for Daisy from a meaning idea. Even though the 'value' mentioned here is no monetary value, the economic metaphor remains the higher Daisy's demand, the higher its value.

Through Gatsby’s eyes, Daisy is seen as the paragon of perfection, she has the aura of charm, wealth, sophistication, grace and aristocracy that he sought in North Dakota as a child and that attracted him to her for the first time. However, in reality, Daisy is beautiful and charming, but she also has a side of fickle, shallow, bored, and sardonic characteristics, which falls far short of Gatsby’s ideal. Daisy loves money, ease, and luxury materials. She is capable of affection but not of deep commitment or concern. She is insensitive even to her infant daughter when she is presented in Chapter 7, never mentioning her and treating her as an afterthought. In the concept of Fitzgerald of America during the 1920s, Daisy represents the amoral values of the elegant East Egg. Let's start with Daisy, who is unhappy with her marriage and remains with Tom despite a brief attempt to leave her, unwilling to give up their marriage status and security. It may seem like Daisy doesn't dream at all at first, so she's unhappy, of course. But because Daisy was born into American society's highest level, as a wealthy woman, the burden put upon her was never to seek anything greater, but merely to maintain her status. When Daisy and Nick meet in the first chapter at Daisy's Long Island home, Daisy explains to Nick that a cynical worldview has been developed.”You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow, she went on . . . “Everybody thinks so—the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything . . . Sophisticated—God, I’m sophisticated!”. She informs him that in the upper classes, this viewpoint is growing. Yet the assertion of Daisy's maturity sounds a little hollow, as it is also clear from the sense that her privilege prevents her from many challenging realities. She did this by marrying Tom, and it's understandable why she would not risk the confusion and loss of status that would result in a bootlegger being divorced and married.

Fitzgerald uses many different media to express his views on the 'American Dream.' Indeed, the whole novel can be viewed as a commentary on the topic. One symbolic way he shows his disappointment with the 'American Dream' is his sharp contrast between the haves and the have-nots. To show the difference between new and old money, East and West Egg are separated. Commenting on the notion that the American Dream is a joke, Fitzgerald notes that one has to be born into money to reap the benefits. A character like Gatsby, who is rich on his own, would never be on the same levels of other characters, specifically Tom and Daisy.Mid way through the book, readers finally take a good glimpse of Gatsby reaching out for the infamous green light. “But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. ”It foreshadows Gatsby’s unhappy ending and most importantly letting the readers know that Gatsby is a dreamer, unlike Tom or Daisy who were born with money and don’t need to strive for anything so far off.Therefore the nature of motivations that directs an individual’s course of action, can also imply how society gives advantage to those who do not have to get through the process of productivity like others.

Author, Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's character as a perfect example of how deceit and manipulation can very often result in bringing unnecessary efficiency into an ambition.

The Great Gatsby is a novel about the impossibility of recovering the past and the difficulty of altering one’s future. Every character has a motivation for themselves, in return for a sense of gratification. Gatsby's ambition was to catch Daisy’s attention and live happily with the love of his life. On the other hand, Daisy’s objective is to keep her social status high in New York. Both fall under the same theme of “American Dream”, which is how author Fitzgerald brought each character to life.   

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