The Great Gatsby and Blinding Illusions
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The Great Gatsby is a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald based on the Jazz age and the average life that people live in that time. Some people try to claim that the events that happen in the book are loosely based on the Fitzgerald’s own life, but in the book everything is much more dramatized that there appears to be no relationship between the two. The story takes place in the roaring 20’s and is based on the events that happen with Nick Carraway, the narrator, Jay Gatsby, who is trying to wed the already married Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s wife. Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Tom Buchanan, and Daisy Buchanan each make illusions, they also believe those illusions are the truth in their lives.
Jay Gatsby has the largest illusion which is that you can relive the past to change the future. Jay hides behind this illusion to conceal the truth that he is not with Daisy and his wealth is made on a black market by selling alcohol, which was illegal at the time. When the book opens, all that can be observed from Jay Gatsby is that he is a wealthy, man with a large house who throws multiple parties.
“It was Gatsby’s mansion.” (Ch. I pg 5) “The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meeting between women who never knew each other’s names.” (Ch. II pg. 40) However the extravagance that is portrait is not real, it is merely an illusion. Toward the middle of the book Jay reveals that he knew Daisy from when he was younger and in the military, but unfortunately their love failed because Jay was not wealthy enough for Daisy.
Although Jay is getting back together with Daisy after all this time, what is not comprehended from the readers prospective is the extent of trouble that Jay went through to get Daisy back. Jay bought the house across the peninsula, is throwing parties to attract Daisy to come over, built up the wealth he has by illegally selling alcohol, and uses Nick to meet her in person for the first time in almost five years. “”Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”” (Ch. 6 pg. 110) This statement was Gatsby’s illusion: that he could relive the past and change it to win back Daisy. This illusion that Gatsby surrounds himself with crumbles after Daisy admits that she did love Tom, and Tom and Daisy get back together.
Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, has a very neutral stance to what is going on around him. However, by having a neutral stance and not intervening anywhere, he is creating chaos. The opening line of the book is Nick talking about how he has had
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” Ch. I pg. 1
In this instance, F. Scott Fitzgerald is using foreshadowing to not only should that other people around him will be immoral, but also that Nick will consider everything he does as moral. Although this is the stance that Nick takes, it is simply an illusion and not how things really are. One of the worst actions that Nick takes to provoke conflict in the story is inviting Daisy over so that she could meet Gatsby again.
“She is not to know about it. Gatsby doesn’t want her to know. You’re just supposed to invite her to tea.” (Ch. 4 pg. 79) This action is one of the starting seeds from which all chaos erupts. Because Daisy met Gatsby, they have an affair, and because they have an affair, Tom gets mad, and because Tom gets mad it causes daisy to leave and hit Myrtle with a car, and because Myrtle got hit with a car, Gatsby dies. Nick’s action of inviting Daisy over is the starting seed from which all chaos erupts in the book.
Tom Buchanan has constructed the illusion that he is better than Gatsby, when in reality Tom has basically followed Gatsby’s footsteps and only realizes so when Daisy cheats on him. At the start of the book, Tom is portrayed as a man who cheats because of his extramarital relationship, which we find out later is with Myrtle.
“Why–” she said hesitantly, “Tom’s got some woman in New York.” “Got some Woman?” I repeated blankly. Miss Baker nodded. (Ch. 1 pg. 15) This relationship while it is extremely unhealthy and wrong, there are no signs that Tom is regretting his decision to maintain it. Tom’s cheating has two more implication than what appears prima facie.
The first is that of foreshadowing, these actions of cheating will happen again, but next time they will be against Tom. The second implication is that F. Scott Fizgerald uses the timeframe of the nineteen twenties to reflect the actions of the book. In the nineteen twenties, it was socially accepted that the man could do just about whatever he wanted, but the women cant. When the tables are turned on Tom, and Gatsby is getting Daisy to admit she never loved Tom, Tom is heartbroken.
“Not at Kapiolani?” demanded Tom suddenly. “No.” … “Not that day I carried you down from the Punch Bowl to keep your cloths dry?” (Ch. 7 pg. 132)
Daisy is the the under the spell that she loves Gatsby, and she never loved Tom. Although her love for Gatsby is strong, it is simply an illusion that she never loved Tom as exposed at the end. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses Daisy as a symbol of wealth and broken promises. She is the prized possession that every man who is chasing the american dream wants, but she also reflects how no man is ever satisfied with her which causes men to break their commitments.
When the affair between Gatsby and Daisy start it is evident that there is a strong loving connection between them. “Then he kissed her, at his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” (Ch. 6 pg. 111) However, all of this love is overshadowed at the end by the statement that Daisy makes to Gatsby:
“Oh, you want too much!” she cried, “I love you now– isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once– but I loved you too.”(Ch. 7 pg. 132) Gatsby did not just want half of Daisy’s love, he wanted her to be totally sold out for him. Daisy’s illusion that she could remain totally committed to Gatsby was false, she hid herself behind it to try to show her artificial love but at the end the truth was told.
Each character in the great Gatsby cause truth, or what is real, twisted by there illusion. Gatsby believes that he can relive the past change it, however because he tries to reshape past events, things turn out the same as they did before. Nick has built up the illusion that everything is peaceful, when in reality things are just the opposite. Tom is confident that he is above Gatsby and does no wrong, when in fact he is almost copying Gatsby’s actions. Daisy is blinded by her infatuation by Gatsby and does not realize that she is still in love with Tom. By building up these illusions or fantasies, the characters are blinding themselves to hide the truth that they dont want to hear.