The Great Gatsby: Key Themes and Issues

The Great Gatsby: Key Themes and Issues

The Great Gatsby is an English novel telling the story of the events that take place in the neighborhood of Long Island, New York. The book symbolizes America in the 1920s, precisely the American dream in a period of unprecedented material wealth. The main themes revolve around the life of the wealthy people in East and West Egg districts. Here are some of the major topics the book discusses. 

Love and Marriage

The Great Gatsby stresses the ideas of love and marriage and concentrates on two unions. The two marriages are between Tom and Daisy and George and Myrtle. For both cases, the couples seem to be together mainly for convenience instead of love. At one instance, Myrtle says that she got married to her husband because she thought he was a gentleman. This suggests that she aspired that marriage would raise her social status. On the other hand, Nicks cousin Daisy almost left her future husband by then Tom when he had an affair on the year of their wedding. However, the couple appears to suit each other because they both have desires for material wealth and love having fun. 

Nick and Jordan Baker also date for most parts of the book, but love is not the basis of their relationship. The two seem emotionally distant and share lukewarm feelings. Nick says that he wasn't in love, but he felt some sort of tender curiosity.

Society and Social Class

The Great Gatsby shows a clear difference between inherited (old money) and earned or new money. In both cases, social class influences all life aspects, including love. Myrtle states that she mistook her husband George, for a person of a higher class and great prospects. Additionally, Gatsby pursues Daisy only after he gained enough wealth to impress her. There is also a clear distinction between the wealthy residents of Long Island and the middle working class. 

By the end of the book, social class dynamics determine the marriages that survive the extramarital affairs. Tom and Daisy's marriage survives because both share class while George and Myrtle's crumbles. The main characters who do not have inherited wealth that is Myrtle, George, and Gatsby die while the old rich survive. The accident that kills Myrtle seems to patch Daisy's marriage. As Nick states, the two depicted natural intimacy and appeared to be conspiring together. Nick also refers to Tom and Daisy as careless people who destroy things and let others clean up their mess.

The American Dream

The American dream refers to the idea that anyone can succeed in gaining wealth and fame as long as they have the necessary determination and hard work. These ideals guide the United States Spirits and include a concept of freedom to assure Americans that they can improve their social class. Each character in the book gets their inspiration for achieving life desires from the American Dream. Gatsby spends most of his life believing that he can surpass his original low class. However, despite acquiring a lot of wealth, the upper class does not accept him. His failure to reach the dream implies that it is unrealistic and unattainable. 

The Emptiness of the Upper Social Class

Another major theme covered in The Great Gatsby is the social aspect of wealth. It is evident than the newly wealthy of the 1920s differ but relate to the older affluent families. West Egg and its residents represent the people who have recently gained wealth while East Egg and its occupants signifies the aristocratic rich. The author describes the newly rich as Gatsby as people who are extravagant, vulgar, and lack social taste. Contrarily, the old rich are elegant, graceful, and have a social taste. Scott uses the Buchannan's classy home and the dresses that Daisy and Jordan wear to represent the old aristocratic class. On the other hand, despite Gatsby's being rich, he does not notice the hypocritical intentions of the Sloane's lunch invitation. He gains a lot of wealth but does not acquire the taste and behavior associated with the upper class.

The Deterioration of the American dream

 The Great Gatsby symbolizes the United States in the 1920s. The book shows the breakdown of the American Dream during an era of extraordinary prosperity and material wealth explicitly. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the era as a period of moral decay that is visible in the characters' greed and pursuit of their desires. Gatsby is reckless and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night. This results in the exploitation of the American Dream as the uncontrolled desire for money exceeds essential goals. The novel symbolizes the period in which World War I ended, and the young Americans who fought in the way got disillusioned. After the war, the stock market rose, and people from any background could acquire wealth. However, the families with old wealth despised the newly rich just as the aristocratic rich Tom hates Gatsby.


Published on: 26 May 2020

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