The Great Gatsby is a novella written by Scott F. Fitzgerald that explores deceitful American society, which was characterized by moral confusion. Fitzgerald criticizes society’s inherent corruption and dishonesty by narrating its equivocal moral codes. In the United States of America in the 1920s, there was an economic and industrial boom that brought prosperity to the nation just after a war. Social upheaval was brought on by the social and technological advancements, as well as the promise of mobility. The exploration of this theme is based on Fitzgerald’s symbolism of the eyes and illusion. It analyses perspective, the subjective nature human character and the failures and deception of the American Dream. Fitzgerald shows the corruption of early 20th-century American society, and how it deceives people.
Fitzgerald uses the symbol of eyes to compare different perspectives and to show how individual prejudices must be overcome in order to reach moral clarity. Fitzgerald uses Nick Caraway’s perspective to interpret the world. Caraway describes him as ‘one honest person [he] ever knew’ and references his tendency of’reserving all judgements.’ Caraway portrays himself as ‘one of the few honest people [he] have ever known’ and references his tendency to reserve all judgements. Fitzgerald contrasts Caraway’s distinct characterisation in the conclusion, when Jordan Baker reveals Jordan Baker’s assumption that Caraway was an ‘honest person’, which is incorrect. This highlights a common theme of deception in the wealthy society and encourages a re-examination on bias. Eckelburg, too, is depicted as an external moral force in the description of his ‘eyes’. Wilson’s comment that ‘you cannot fool God’ is a reference to the ‘persistent staring’ of this set of eyes. Fitzgerald uses these eyes to point out the falsehood of the American Dream. Eckelburg must keep an eye on the “Valley of Ashes”, the district with the “ash-greymen” and hopelessness. Eckelburg is reduced to a mere inanimate object, whose only purpose is to externalise moral doubts within characters. The internalised moral conflict within characters is shown through the deceptive narration.
Fitzgerald’s rich characterisation allows us to understand Jay Gatsby and his ability to deceive. In the novella Gatsby’s fabrication of a beautiful facade’sprang out of his platonic concept of himself’ is portrayed as the embodiment illusion. Fitzgerald displays vivid characterisation when he describes Gatsby’s aura,’something gorgeous’ and a sense of eternal reassurance. Fitzgerald illustrates Gatsby’s fragility by describing how Daisy Buchanan ‘falls short of Gatsby’s dream’ because the colossal strength of Gatsby’s illusion. Gatsby’s hedonistic Daisy concept is not real, but rather a symbol that represents Gatsby’s impossible dreams. Fitzgerald’s use of irony highlights the contrast between reality versus illusion with the tone used at Gatsby’s burial. The funeral was not attended by any of the’sparkling’ hundreds who had enjoyed Gatsby’s hospitality. This shows the artificiality in the upper classes of American society. It also signals the end of Jay Gatsby’s fantasy. Fitzgerald’s death of Gatsby highlights Gatsby’s fallibility, and the guilt he feels as a result of his perpetual deception. Fitzgerald’s depiction of Gatsby exemplifies implicitly the issue of deception and corruption in upper-class American society.
Fitzgerald examines how wealth can lead to deception, moral confusion and lies. Fitzgerald uses symbolism by depicting the’single light green’ on the dock in order to show the American Dream as an impossible ideology. Caraway says, “Tomorrow we’ll run faster, extend our arms farther” to represent the American society’s eternal dissatisfaction. In order to achieve a false aura of social superiority, many people resort to deception and moral corruption. Myrtle Wilson demonstrates how social mobility promises are not fulfilled through her attitudes. Wilson is quick in conceiving a fictitious persona, and exudes ‘impressive elevation’ when she is living the life of an aristocrat. This is demonstrated by her attempts to dissociate herself from the real Myrtle in order for her to attain wealth. Tom Buchanan and Daisy Buchanan, who were under the strict control of East Egg’s elite, also conformed their idealistic family image to fit the demands of the East Egg elite. They established their respectability as a couple, and were unaware of the serious flaws they had in their marriage. Daisy may have ‘loved’ him before, but that is not enough for them to maintain a delicate façade. Fitzgerald also portrays Buchannan’s moral corruption by showing them’smashing things up’ before’retreating back into their wealth’. This illustrates the recklessness of the rich, as they can easily exploit their wealth without being held responsible for it.
Scott F. Fitzgerald criticizes classist society’s artificial and deceptive life, fuelled by their futility, in ‘The Great Gatsby.’ Fitzgerald shows how the wealthy exploit their wealth in order to achieve materialistic goals. Through his exploration of perspective and illusion, he reveals the systemic privilege they exercise. Fitzgerald criticizes an affluent culture that resorts to deceptive ways of speaking in times when moral corruption is rampant, creating the impression that a true human experience can’t be had.