Great Gatsby 4


Great Gatsby 4 Essay, Research Paper

When F. Scott Fitzgerald first published The Great Gatsby, it was named

Under the Red, White, and Blue. However, after having revised the novel

many times with his many editors, publishers, and personal advisors,

Fitzgerald eventually released the book under its contemporary title.

Why did Fitzgerald make the change? Under the red white and blue

referred to the life of people in America, or under the American flag.

His novel is focused on the corruption of the American dream, and the

corruption of those residing within. The great Gatsby referred to one

of the principle characters in the novel, Jay Gatsby. Why was Gatsby so

great that the book was named after him? Jay Gatsby was portrayed by

Fitzgerald as the son of God, or of a God. Fitzgerald reminds us of

this throughout the novel, and from beginning to end he fills the text

with hints as he alludes to Gatsby^s divine spirit. The ^Great Gatsby^

was a great man- Fitzgerald tells the reader that Gatsby was so great

he could not have been a man- that he was a heavenly figure. Fitzgerald

wanted the reader to believe that the American dream had died, and to

further ingrain his belief in our minds, he destroys religion and

morality^ but the final and most dismal reality Fitzgerald faces us

with is that no man is a great man- the only great man encountered in

The Great Gatsby is the son of God- who is superior to man, and cannot

be judged by the same rules. An author uses imagery to convey specific

thoughts and emotions from his readers. Fitzgerald constantly reminds

us that Gatsby is a heavenly figure by associating Gatsby with the

moon. The moon is a heavenly body; therefore, Gatsby^s presence brings

out the heavens. The first time the narrator, Nick, meets Gatsby, it is

at one of Gatsby^s gaudy parties, and ^the moon had risen

higher.^(Fitzgerald p.51) just before Nick met Gatsby. When Nick leaves

the party, ^a wafer of a moon was shining over Gatsby^s house.^(p.60)

After Myrtle had been run over by Daisy, Nick speaks to Gatsby outside

Daisy^s house, and Nick ^could think of nothing except the luminosity

of his pink suit under the moon.^ The imagery in this location suggests

that Gatsby is innocent of the crime he is implicated in, which is the

murder of Myrtle. The moon shining down on Gatsby, making his suit

radiate, suggests that heaven looks with favor upon Gatsby. Gatsby is

linked with the heavens occurs when he describe! d having kissed Daisy

for the first time. ^^sidewalk was white with moonlight^ The quiet

lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a

stir and bustle among the stars^ Gatsby saw that the blocks of the

sidewalk really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the

trees- he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he

could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of

wonder.^(pg.117) This particular passage suggests to the reader that

Gatsby is indeed a heavenly figure, the son of God, as moonlight shines

down upon him, and he has the superhuman ability to hear the sounds of

the stars. When Nick saw Gatsby for the first time, Gatsby had been

gazing out over the water of the Sound. ^Mr. Gatsby himself, come out

to determine what share was his of our local heavens.^(pg. 25). This is

an unusual phrase, since we would expect Gatsby to determine where he

fit in the local heavens, not which share of the local heavens was his.

This shows that Gatsby is not a part of our world; rather, a

shareholder. Fitzgerald then moves to establish Gatsby as the son of

God by creating moments of Gatsby^s life which parallel that of Jesus.

The first example of this is when Nick first meets Gatsby, and Gatsby

smiles at Nick. ^He smiled understandingly- much more than

understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of

eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times

in life.^(pg. 52). The usage of the word eternal suggests that Gatsby

is immortal, as is the son of God, who died so that we may all be

immortal. Such a deep and compassionate smile can only come from a man

of extraordinary power. Fitzgerald continues by elevating Gatsby above

his high-class and powerful friends, who attended his parties. ^I

wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped to set him off

from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the

fraternal hilarity increased.^(pg. 54). This once again illustrates

that Gatsby is a higher figure than the rest of society, as his

affluent guests fit a level below him. The Great Gatsby was set above

everyone, even the best of the best. As the novel and Gatsby^s life

progress, it follows Jesus^ life in parallel. Jesus was brought before

the government, and was questioned repeatedly as to his motives, and

whether or not he claimed to be the King of the Jews. Gatsby was

questioned by Tom on pages 134-142. Tom questioned Gatsby^s motives,

his past, and his occupation. This interrogation was not dissimilar to

that of Jesus, as Jesus remained wholly calm during his rough

interrogation- Gatsby remained unfazed and composed during his heated

interrogation. When Gatsby died, he went in a similar fashion to that

of Jesus. Not by the same method, death on the cross, but by an

extremely similar process. ^Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started

for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little and the chauffeur

asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment

disappeared among the yellowing trees.^(pg. 169). This imagery is

consistent with that of Jesus^ crucifixion. Jesus had been forced to

carry his own cross to the place of the crucifixion (on his shoulder),

and similarly Gatsby had carried his mattress (on his shoulder) to the

place of his death. People had asked Jesus if he needed assistance

carrying his cross, and Jesus refused- just as Gatsby had refused aid

from his chauffeur. The reason for Gatsby^s death was similar to

Jesus^, as well. Gatsby had been killed because George Wilson believed

that Gatsby had killed his wife, Myrtle. In reality, Myrtle had been

killed by Daisy. Therefore, Gatsby had died for Daisy^s sin. In the

same way, Jesus had died for the sins of mankind, while he himself had

committed no sin. Both Jesus and Gatsby had died for the sins of

others. Their deaths were similar, but so were their funerals.

Gatsby^s funeral had few attendees: ^The minister glanced several times

at his watch so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an

hour. But it wasn^t any use. Nobody came.^(pg. 182). Gatsby^s best

friend, Wolfshiem, had not attended the funeral- ^Let us learn to show

our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is

dead,^(pg. 180) because Wolfshiem had wanted to keep a low profile, and

not jeopardize his own safety by appearing at the funeral. In the same

way, Jesus^ burial place was kept secret to protect it from

graverobbers, and there were few people in attendance at the funeral-

to keep the lowest possible profile. Gatsby had tried to improve his

life in the same way as Ben Franklin- with a daily schedule to stay on

track and an orderly system of life. Ironically, Franklin^s list of

moral improvements (which Gatsby followed) included number 13, ^Mimic

Jesus^ (Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin). Gatsby had mimicked Jesus,

and ended up the same way as Jesus had- dead. Gatsby^s life had not

been a waste. As Jesus had saved souls, started a major religion, and

helped lead people in a new and better life, Gatsby had changed the

narrator of the novel, Nick. ^Gatsby turned out all right at the end;

it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his

dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows

and short-winded elations of men.^(pg. 7). Gatsby^s life, which had

much suffering, had served the purpose of helping Nick to learn more

about life and about people. Jesus had been the son of a merciful God,

sent into a spiritual society composed of extremely pious citizens. It

had been Jesus^ task to show God^s people how to better live their

lives, and to be ready for Judgement Day. Gatsby had been the son of a

meretricious God, sent into a meretricious society whose social echelon

was dominated by the upper class, who could destroy or control anything

they wanted without consequence (as demonstrated by Tom and Daisy.)

^[Gatsby] was a son of God- a phrase, which, if it means anything,

means just that- and he must be about His Father^s Business, the

service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty.^(p.104) The parallel

thus existed not only between Jesus and Gatsby, but also between a

spiritual society and a meretricious society. Gatsby left a lasting

impression on the world behind him. After his death, his presence

lingered over everyone, as did the death of Jesus. ^As the moon rose

higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I

became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch

sailor^s eyes- a fresh, green breast of the new world.^(pg. 189). This

image of Long Island, with its beach, water, and green color, expresses

hope- this is a land that can become anything- one of the core

philosophies of the American Dream. By exposing the pure American Dream

beneath the modernized Long Island, Fitzgerald suggests that the

American Dream has not only been neglected and unachieved, but that

irrevocable corruption had set in. Living under the red, white and blue

is thus meretricious, as the American Dream is now a false attraction.

Gatsby^s life after death was seen through the moonlight- the haze had

disappeared- we now see that beneath the superficial world in which we

live there is a purity to be found. Beneath the riches and material

objects there is an intangible yet concrete basis on which we build our

society. Though our society has lost its morality and lost its cause to

dream, as demonstrated in The Great Gatsby, ultimately there is a truth

which we can find- but we will always lose the truth no matter how hard

we try- since we are merely men. The Great Gatsby found his truth after

five years, and lost it^ but in effect The Great Gatsby^s moonlight

removed the falsities which concealed the universal truth we all seek.

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