Posted at 10.29.2018
There is not a strict explanation of the 'American Desire' though early on in the twentieth century and in lots of ways still today it is among the most term which identifies an inherent trust in the offer of the " new world ". As being a country, America has no far stretching record to forge and enrich its culture. Instead a nation's personality was flavoured with hopes and anticipation into the future, of a better life of more opportunity and goal.
People fledged to the Americas to start afresh, to see modern luxuries and new technology. To become a part of the rat race and exploit age capitalism and materialism - overall to become rich through one's own means. To understand the great American Goal therefore was an extension of Benjamin Franklin's maxim of the 'perfectibility of man'. Franklin was a great emblem of American ideology and a founder of a lot of its deepest presented attitudes and beliefs.
Franklin was main self-confessed entrepreneurs and his many written works became great incentives for Americans to become pro-active and try and be the best one could be. He founded his ideas on the prevailing optimism that with the right motivation and activity anyone could turn into a solvent, well-respected individual.
Perhaps virtually no time in America's history quite proven the people's obsessive preoccupation with the American aspiration than the 1920s. In the post-war period, it became a remarkably affluent country, speedily industrialising and expanding the grade of life. It became a time when gross extravagances were commonplace. The American president Herbert Hoover said in 1925 'We will root out poverty and put two automobiles in every car port'. On the top of it, the country was thriving using its own successes. People were elated by the likelihood of continued enjoyment through material riches.
However, this atmosphere of striving relentlessly towards the future in the promise of rewards experienced a bitter flipside. Many authors found the new attitude of American people excessively conceited. This idea in particular is explored in metaphor in many of Herman Melville's works together Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but demonstrably so in the novels of Evelyn Waugh, J. D. Salinger and of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald. These authors attempted to show that the people of America were changing - becoming superficial and self-consumed and misconstruing happiness as riches and materialism.
On the facial skin of it, Fitzgerald's wonderful creation of Jay Gatsby appears a champion of the then weather of profligacy and carefree living. He has as much beautiful tee shirts to make Daisy swoon rather than two motor automobiles as Hoover would recommend, but five. From his mansion in West Egg he retains wild parties every evening mixing in the best social circles. But the grand irony is that of all the people in the book, Gatsby could very well be the least encouraged or objectively ingested by the approach to life he defines. And it is also perhaps precisely this reason that Gatsby is also the probably to get our affections. As Nick highlights he has an exceptional quality that separates him from typical People in america significantly less than exemplifies them:
'If personality is an unbroken group of successful gestures, then there is something beautiful about him, some heightened sensitivity to the offers of life, a fantastic gift for wish, a romantic readiness such as I have never within every other person and which it is not likely I will ever find again. '
Gatsby's 'product for trust' which Nick talks about certainly seems true of Franklin's perspective but there's a crucial contrast with the North american dream's personality of hopefulness and Gatsby's personality and it is this: while Franklin advocated the importance of the average person, the hopefulness the particular one might successfully improve one's own personal and one's own means, Gatsby's biggest trust is to find Daisy and rekindle her love for him. Were endeared to Gatsby because he is the only persona who quite plainly values human affection above wealth and entertainment. He unlike the other people has a company belief in the good of humanity.
In this way he's set in stark distinction with the narrator Nick who seems a born cynic, passive, sardonic and judgemental of other people though he promises often. Jordan's half-baked advancements neglect to woo him; indeed he seems genuinely disenchanted by the possibility of a relationship and finds friendship only in Gatsby. For Nick, Gatsby must seem the only real warm, good hearted human being in NY and yet however, the previous estimate shows he is quick to qualify this - questioning whether personality is a true reflection of any person or indeed an 'unbroken group of successful gestures' - a comment which implies Nick is hung up by the theory that all human connections is a faade or an work rather than true reflection of real emotions.
Nick has a seriously disillusioned view of 1920s socialite America yet his pessimism is invariably astute proving to be reasonable by the end of the book. It is in comparison Gatsby's irrepressible optimism and his rose-tinted sentimental view of the world that is unveiled to be mistaken.
So THE FANTASTIC Gatsby is a novel which sees a character try to exploit the American Dream to get the love of a woman. Fitzgerald says us that 'Gatsby was overwhelmingly alert to the youth and mystery that riches imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like gold, safe and pleased above the hot struggles of the poor' - it is this misconstrued impression of riches as a ageless vessel of expectation, as the preserver as opposed to the destroyer of enigma, which brings about his downfall.
In this sense Gatsby's end is not reflective of his means - his real end is finding love, his means is to buy it with shows of grandeur and extreme wealth. But such devotion by definition cannot be real love and Daisy subsequently cannot give herself to him with the intensity of feeling he previously wished for. Fitzgerald's book is saturated in themes of illusion, and deception. The great swathes of noveau riche - self-made American's, success tales of the fantastic American fantasy, are undermined with a superficiality and emptiness. The people have founded their prosperous, though vacuously gorgeous life-styles by capitalising on an personality which is bereft of morals.
Mr. Gatsby himself has become incredibly abundant with a short space of time because he absolves himself of moral responsibility and deals in the trafficking of alcohol. Yet his prosperity breeds distrust and intolerance, his amazing parties attract only insincere people who exploit his generosity. In the same way Tom Buchanan cannot depend on the fidelity of his wife Daisy because he makes no work to make certain of his own.
In a environment of greed, connections are no more predicated on trust or affection but self-interest. The bogus, self-fulfilling dynamics of the associations forged in the novel is manufactured painfully clear for Nick who notices that only three people turn up to Gatsby's funeral - an authentic surprise given his perceived popularity. It is this sense of hypocrisy and discovery of human relationships which can be feigned through shared advantage rather than real emotion that results in Nick's gloomy disillusionment with 1920s culture and his realisation that he will never meet anyone who stocks Gatsby's sentimentality.
Gatsby, the iconic hero of the American Fantasy, uses it simply as a means to an extremely different end. He avoids cultural discussion at his functions, skulking in the inner chambers of his house and his great exhibits of prosperity give him no more pleasure than in their recognized probable to bring Daisy back again to him. Gatsby is merely dubiously 'Great'. He is flawed because he attempts to find belonging in a world bereft of the most fundamental real human morals like trust and fidelity. In an idealistic world governed by way of a striving impetus to the acquisition of prosperity and ability, moral fibre starts to break down
The impact of the fantastic American goal has only a physical, external influence on Gatsby whereas it has shaped the very consciousnesses of the other heroes - Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan, Myrtle and Gatsby's corrupt work fellow workers all screen a fickle self-serving hedonism that echoes the then weather of quick-living, profligacy much more than Gatsby's meticulously prepared, intimate endeavour to regain Daisy's heart and his nostalgia upon reflections of the past. Gatsby is in reality then, far removed from 1920s American lifestyle, he has simply become good at mimicking its symptoms.
It seems then that Gatsby is both the champion and the antithesis of the North american Aspiration. Gatsby invites the glowing optimism of the American Wish to appease his nervousness to earn the love of Daisy. By surrendering to the ideals of your forward-looking, hopeful American life he somehow convinces himself that the improbable is a very real probability. However, Gatsby's grand system is doomed because wealth and social position are not attributes which he cares to evince - they will not earn him a account in America's 'great' population. Gatsby is quite clearly influenced by Franklin's autobiography.
In section 9 Nick discovers a cherished old e book of Gatsby's which shares the same assiduous focus on usual and self-discipline by means of daily schedules. Gatsby buys into Franklin's ideals of self-improvement, resolving to 'practice elocution, poise and how to realize it; read one bettering book or journal per week; and become better to parents'. Such an empty set of instructions towards self-help are listed here with comical irony. What indeed can such attributes give Gatsby that can make him any longer accomplished to find love?
Gatsby's great delusion and one of Fitzgerald's most significant messages would be that the acquisition of materials successes does not by natural means enrich a person or world spiritually or psychologically. This is played out in Gatsby's endeavors at courting Daisy - he attempts to woo her with his shirts somewhat than more heartfelt exhibits of real passion and yet incredibly the 'scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange' get him just the response he hopes for - 'it makes me unhappy because I've never seen such beautiful t shirts before'. Again the moment is half comical.
Throughout the book Fitzgerald's personas are most genuinely stirred to emotion or handled by the mundane, by materials, extravagances or assortments of pretty t-shirts. Fitzgerald's America often appears so superficial as to be funny. For example, personas like Tom and Myrtle are two-dimensional and self-motivated to point of seeming unrealistic, but it is such cartoon-like, narrative extremes that allows Fitzgerald to make his most crucial point which is the severe lack of what are perhaps the real, 'religious' attributes of human life in all the excesses of self-seeking capitalism.
In the relentless contest towards modernisation, traditions, heartfelt beliefs and the spiritual side of individual culture is lost in a lifeless expanse; a valley of ashes. Even while Fitzgerald uses symbolism to represent this decay, like T. S. Eliot in 'The Wastelands', traditional beliefs are lost in an atmosphere of moral problem, of the tacky and kitsch. Quite wonderfully even God himself has become redundant in Fitzgerald's America, changed by the watchful eyes of Dr. Eckleburg an enormous billboard and the pinnacle of commercialism and religious dissemblance.
An even more frequent symbolic theme in the novel is the intensity of heat. Fitzgerald's focus on the sun and dazzling lighting is exceptional. It creates up a huge contingent of the narration - setting up scenes and on many situations dictating the circulation of events. Heat is utilized much as Camus uses glaring light to imply the burden of fact in 'L'etranger' or Shakespeare runs on the surprise to echo the madness and moral corruption of Lear's world. In 'The Great Gatsby' it intensifies the growing soreness of the personas' landscapes. The falseness of the world they inhabit becomes a severe and oppressive glasshouse, melting well-meaning facades. Heat and sunlight are more and more an aspect of the story in the novel climaxing on your day of Gatsby's denouement; 'the following day was broiling, almost the previous, certainly the warmest day of the warmer summer months'.
At the heroes final group reaching in the restaurant, the sweltering heat amplifies the feelings of resent and bitterness behind their connections. Sunlight might then be seen as Fitzgerald's way of projecting nature's grasp over a human's actions and the impossibility of defying the spirit of the world around you.
Perhaps the most important difference between Gatsby and the perfect of the North american dream is a temporal one. The North american Dream is built upon the anticipation of a far more modern, more complex future. Gatsby will await the future with baited breath but only in the futile expectation that it will one day recreate his storage area of days gone by. Indeed Gatsby lives totally in the past - clinging to the nostalgia of his children. That he might relive a perfect point in time of love which he still cherishes between himself and Daisy becomes his one motivating objective.
But as Nick astutely highlights, real human elation is invariably 'short-lived' and can't be recaptured and critically Gatsby misconceives what's possible in Franklin's vision of today's. Franklin did not embrace the sweetness of days gone by, or treasure the annals of human feelings - life was alternatively a progression - regularly in flux. It really is no real surprise that Gatsby is piqued by Nick's refutation of his desire - 'Can't repeat days gone by? he cried incredulously. Why of course you can!' Gatsby clings to the traditions of history. It really is implied by his position in West Egg as opposed to East as indeed the Eastern fringe of America was then regarded as the seat of its wealth and the European frontier the links to its older heritage.
Real proof Gatsby's devotion to a dissolving recent is his well stocked collection, filled with books, which shock his guests at being 'Absolutely real - have real pages and everything' and not made from 'nice durable cardboard'. Books have become unfilled non-durable items to the friends at Gatsby's get-togethers, just like themselves who are soulless, lacking content of identity, or the oranges and lemons which leave Gatsby's get-togethers via 'the backdoor in a pyramid of pulpless halves'. But Gatsby's reminiscent, exclusively mysterious disposition is best indicated in Nick's fleeting impressions of him:
'Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I used to be reminded of something - an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard someplace a long time previously'.
Nick's terminology is characteristically vague and whimsically unsure of itself - 'an elusive tempo, a fragment of lost words', what part of Gatsby's 'appalling sentimentality' he's referring to is an intangible and incomprehensible thing. And that is the point, Gatsby's sentimentality has no solid so this means in the mundane rational of the present - he is strange and abstract memory space of something that is no more. The storyplot of Gatsby is finally a tragic one because he cannot bend the careless frivolity of the society around him to the passionate solemnity of his motives. Affection can be an impotent virtue in a fickle misunderstanding world. And days gone by cannot be helped bring home to the people of a public climate which cares limited to the future:
' Oh, you want too much! she cried to Gatsby, I love you now--isn't that enough? I cannot help what's past. I did love him once--but I enjoyed you too'.
Daisy cannot reconcile Gatsby's need to capture what is gone. The love Daisy's confesses she bears for Gatsby is different - forged in today's in her awe of his riches. Unlike Gatsby, she severs the activities of days gone by as moments that are lost forever and have no tangible bearing on the future. Daisy and Tom's dilution of guilt, and thoughtless fleeing by the end of the book is the true psyche of the American goal - the self-centred perception the particular one lives in today's and what has occurred in the past is irrelevant
'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and animals and then retreated back to their money or their great carelessness or whatever it was that stored them alongside one another, and let other folks clean up the mess they had made'.
Gatsby is great because he is unlike the 'grubby lovely things' of modern America. He is simply doomed on earth he confirms himself after because his great desiring real human feeling can't be reconciled with the true social longing for wealth and position. 'The Great Gatsby' will explore the effect of the American dream after a national consciousness but with the implication that it's alternatively a 'pipe-dream' or a clear sentiment. Gatsby's obsession with the renewable lantern glowing promisingly at the bottom of Daisy's garden inspires him with expectations of acquiring her love.
But the renewable light plainly signifies the great torch of the Statue of Liberty that greets voyagers off of the boats In Manhattan's harbour filled with hope and influenced by the assurances of America. Along with the Stature of Liberty subsequently is an emblem of flexibility and truth - the once cherished principles of any American personality. Fitzgerald's novel discount rates these guidelines with this rather touching metaphor:
'Gatsby assumed in the renewable light, the orgastic future that 12 months by time recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no subject - tomorrow we will run faster, loosen up our forearms further And one fine morning - And so we conquer on, ships against the current, borne again ceaselessly in to the recent'.
The words is fragmentary because new optimism inspires another thought prior to the futility of the present becomes a reality. And this language, jumping interminably before itself is indeed Fitzgerald's view of the American character: in the dash to make a rich and considerable character and background for itself, America lost most of the clarity which originates from a slower development. It became in many respects a nation based completely on ideologies of wish and optimism and the offer of self-development.
But while a land was twisted up in these fascinating prospects freelance writers such as Fitzgerald pealed again the veil and discovered the inconsistencies within an outlook of liberty tainted by the constraints of greed, capitalism and materialism.
Fitzgerald, F, Scott, THE FANTASTIC Gatsby, 1989, Penguin, London.