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The Great Gatsby - Buying the American Dream
"Our great cities and our mighty buildings will avail us not if we lack spiritual strength to subdue mere objects to the higher purposes of humanity" (Harnsberger 14), is what Lyndon B. Johnson had to say about materialism. He knew the value of money, and he realized the power and effect of money. Money can have many effects, however money cannot buy happiness. Many people disbelieve this fact, and many continue to try and actually buy articles that make them happy. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Fizgerald keenly shows us how Jay Gatsby is one of these people. Gatsby believes that if he has money, he can do attain great goals. Gatsby is a sensible man, yet he has many false conceptions. Jay Gatsby believes that money can recreate the past, can buy him happiness, and can be helpful in achieving a level of prestige in the prominent East Egg.
Jay Gatsby believes he can buy happiness; and this is exhibited through his house, his clothes, and through Daisy. He owns a large portion of finances due to some mysterious source of wealth, and he uses this mystery source to buy his house, his clothes, and Daisy. Gatsby's house, as Fitzgerald describes it, is "a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden" (Fitzgerald 9). This house, as Fitzgerald fabulously enlightens to, is an immaculate symbol of Gatsby's incalculable income. "The house he feels he needs in order to win happiness" (Bewley 24), is an elegant mansion; that of which an excellent symbol of carelessness is displayed and is part of Gatsby's own persona. Every Monday after a party, this house is kept by eight servants. It has its own entrance gate, and is big enough to hold hundreds of people at a time. His careless use for money to impress others is portrayed through his clothes; a gold metallic hat, silver vests and gold jackets. The shirts and clothes that are ordered every spring and fall show his simpleness in expressing his wealth to his beloved Daisy. His "beautiful shirts . . . It makes me sad because I've never seen such beautiful shirts before" (Fitzgerald 98). It seems silly to cry over simple shirts, but "It is not the shirts themselves that overwhelm her but what they symbolize . . ." (Cowley 43). These shirts represent the simple awesome manner of Gatsby's wealth and his ability to try and purchase Daisy's love, this time through the use of extensive clothing. Fitzgerald wisely shows how Gatsby uses his riches to buy Daisy. In the story, we know that "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things . . . and then returned back into their money" (Fitzgerald). By this, we know that Daisy's main (and maybe only) concern is money. Gatsby realizes this, and is powered by this. He is driven to extensive and sometimes illegal actions. He feels he must be rich and careless for his five year love, and when expressing Gatsby's readiness to spend any amount of money for his hopeful wife, a poem must be stated. "Then wear the gold hat, if that move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry "Lover, gold hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!" ( ). This poem is a perfect description of how Gatsby tries to buy Daisy, and her love. All these enlighten us to Gatsby's personality, therefore we know Gatsby is willing to use an unlimited source of income to actually buy trifles to prove his worth to Daisy. He will buy a house that takes, even him, three years to pay for and purchases clothes every Spring and Fall. He does all he can in order to buy, what he feels is his only happiness, the woman he has watched for five years, the woman who's only concern is money, the infamous, Daisy.
Gatsby's obsession is with the buying power of money, however, this obsession does not limit itself merely to possessions, but also to physical attributes. Jay Gatsby attempts to recapture his past with money. He also implies he has a past at Oxford, he entices Daisy with wealth, and sometimes spins absolute obvious lies. In his past at Oxford, the author uses a prestigious, ivy league school that Gatsby visited in order to imply that Gatsby did come from a high class background. However, Fitzgerald candidly avoids saying for how long, for what reasons, or why he has indeed attained entrance at Oxford. Being misplaced by the Military at this local prestigious college unfortunately serves as a hindrance. Gatsby shows Nick a picture "A souvenir of [his] Oxford days . . . " (Fitzgerald), as if to imply that he was there. In all actuality, Gatsby had only dreamed of attending a school such as Oxford, and even a small, dishonest taste of this makes him dream of changing his past. This, as Malcom Cowly states, "past holds something that Gatsby [longs] for, a simpler, better, nobler time . . ." (Cowly 45). With a photograph, Gatsby effectively, and almost unmistakably, recreates his past. Not only does Oxford involve untruths, but most of this recreation involves numerous obscene and unbelievable lies. Gatsby "live[s] like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe . . . " (Fitzgerald), as Nick, incredibly notes "With an effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter" (Fitzgerald). With documentation like this, Fitzgerald effectively proves Gatsby's
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