The theme of human corruption, its sources and consenquences, is a coomonconcern among writers from Shakespeare through J.D Salinger.
Some suggest thatit attacks from outside, while others depict corruption occuring from within theindividual. In the case if The Great Gatsby and it’s protagonist’s fate,Fizgerald shows both factors at work. The moral climate of the Roaring Twenties,Daisy Fay Buchanan’s pernicious hold on him, and Jay Gatsby’s own nature allcontribute to his tragic demise. First, the loose morality of Dan Cody, Gatsby’s unfortunate role model, andsuperficial people who flock to Gatsby’s parties contribute to Gatsby’s downfall.Their examples encourages Gatsby’s interpretation of The American Dream- hisnaive belief is that money and social standing are all that matter in his questfor Daisy. The self-absorbed debetants and their drunken escorts are amongthose who “crash” his extravagent soirees. As Nick Carroway tells us, “Peoplewere not invited- they went there.
” (pg.40) Shallow, corrupt people like JordanBaker gossip with reckless abandon about their mysterious host. Their careless,superficial attitudes and wanton behaviour represent Fizgarald’s depiction ofthe corrupt American Dream. Another force of corruption responsible for Gatsby’s fate is his obsessionwith a woman of Daisy’s nature. Determined to marry her after returning fromthe war, he is blind to her shallow, cowardly nature. He is unable to see thecorruptiion whick lies beyond her physical beauty, charming manner and playfulbanter.
That she is incapable of leaving her brutal husband, Tom, of commitingherself to Gatsby despite his sacrifices, escapes him. As Nick observes,Gatsby’s expectation is absuredly simple:”He only wanted her to tell him Tomthat she never loved him.” (pg.91) DAisy is not worthy of the pedestal on whichshe is placed. Since she is hallow at the core, so is his dream which is basedon a brief flirtation, nothing more. Finally, Gatsby’s own character-especially his willful obessesion-contributesto his fate.
Despite his naivete about Daisy and her friends who “are rich andplay polo together,” he, too, has been seduced by the lure of money and fame.Unable to control his obsessive desire to have Dasiy, he cares little about themeans by which he acquires the money to marry her. He associates with knowncriminals such as Myer Wolfsheim, apperars to be involved with bootlegging, andis rumored to have killed a man.
Finally, he lies about himself and his familyto enlist Nick’s support of his grand quest. The means he uses to achieve hisgoal pervert his sacred dream. He prefers the pretty illusions he concocts tothe harsh reality of the obsession he allows to corrupt his life. Gatsby’s character is probably the single most important factor in the storyof his life and death. But Daisy and a society which rewards corruption play apart as well.
F. Scott Fizgerald’s depiction of the soured American Dreamdramatizes the internal and external forces at work in a modern tragedy abouthuman potential for corruption Category: English