The Great Gatsby, a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, takes place in Long Island, NY around the roaring twenties during the prohibition era. The novel is narrated by the fictional character Nick Carraway. Nick is a young man from Minnesota who received an education from Yale and after fighting in World War I, decided to head East towards New York City to learn and succeed in the bond business. Nick quickly becomes close friends with his next-door neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is an extremely wealthy man who is known for his grand parties but little is known about his background.
Gatsby earned his wealth from bootlegging alcohol but he did not start out so wealthy. He grew up in a poor family but his life changed after meeting a man named Dan Cody. It is Cody who teaches him how to live the affluent life. Fitzgerald uses the first chapter of the novel to reveal to the reader some of the major themes found throughout his book. He analyzes the idea that America is a society where anyone can be successful with hard work and live what they believe is The American Dream. This is one of the most important themes in the book.
Gatsby is introduced by the narrator as a character seeking hopeful dreams or understood as the American Dream. This dream represents the belief that anyone can attain their own version of success in society. It’s achieved through hard work and sacrifice. People abandoned their lifestyles in the 1920s to move East in search for fortune as a way of building better lives for themselves and finding their own American Dream. At the end of chapter one, Nick sees Gatsby reaching towards something in the distance, in his sight but definitely out of reach. It is a green light at the end of a dock. Gatsby sees this as his hopes of a future with Daisy and his image of The American Dream.
Fitzgerald uses this symbol that people are always reaching towards something greater than themselves but that is just out of reach. He portrays Gatsby as a dreamer which is different than the characters of Tom or Daisy. Since they came from money there is nothing for them to strive for. Despite Daisy’s feelings for Gatsby, he does not win her over thus he fails to achieve his version of the American Dream.Another one of Fitzgerald’s theme in the book is that of money and wealth.
It is shown when Nick’s arrives in New York. He decides to live in a small rental house in West Egg, rather than East Egg, adjacent to Gatsby’s mansion. Money and wealth is how their social status is classified and how they are perceived by others. Even though both Eggs have beautiful mansions, East Egg was known to be “old money.” Money has been in the families for many generations. West Egg, also home to the rich, was home to “new money,” people whose wealth was recently earned, as well as to working class people such as Nick. Tom comes from “old money” and acts like someone accustomed to privilege and esteem. The residents of West Egg, including Gatsby, are a class of people who only recently earned their money.
They do not have to rely on their family’s old money. East and West Egg represent the difference between the old money and the new, the “have” and the “have nots” during this era in New York City.Fitzgerald also uses the theme of money to show that even though it does have value, money does not necessarily make people happy in life. For example, Gatsby spends a lot of money to hold extravagant parties but he really doesn’t enjoy them. He wants to use the power of money and wealth to just let everyone know how rich he is and more importantly to try to gain Daisy’s attention. But in the end, neither his money or wealth could buy Daisy’s love or the happiness he desired. The Great Gatsby is a novel which portrays important themes that are related to the American society in the 1920’s.
This was an era of great prosperity which enabled people to achieve their goals. The economy was booming which enabled social mobility and economic success in their lives. Through his characters, he shows the how the new rich and the traditional families effect social images. Finally, Fitzgerald depicts Jay Gatsby as someone who despite his success is never able to capture his elusive dreams.