Tragic Hero and The American Dream

Set in New York during the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties, Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is the story of one young man who is trying to live his dream and to gain his first love back.

The main character, Jay Gatsby, is like a tragic romantic hero. He still believes in American dream and tries to live up to it. In his youth days he fell in love with Daisy, a daughter of one rich man from their city. After a while he wanted to marry her but she told him: "Rich girls don't marry poor boys." Gatsby decides that he will win Daisy back. Not through his hard work, but because of his involvement in crime he becomes rich. He moves to New York, he lives in a big house and in his neighborhood he's well known for the big parties he hosts. The most widely used colors at the parties are silver and gold, which may symbolize the wealth, which is so important to Gatsby's dream. His library is also simply for show. It's filled with unread books. His home and the parties seem to be one big stage because Gatsby hopes that Daisy might one day show up.

The story goes on and Gatsby finally meets Daisy. He's trying to impress her with his house and all of his possessions. Gatsby and Daisy are reunited and she and her husband Tom invite Gatsby for a trip. On their way they pass a garage of George Wilson and his wife Myrtle. Myrtle is Tom's mistress, but her husband thinks that she is secretly dating Gatsby. Later on Daisy kills Myrtle in a car accident.

Overlooking the valley of ashes, where the whole story is situated, are the gigantic eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes are all that remains of an old billboard put up by an oculist to make money. George Wilson identifies the eyes with God. The eyes are sightless and unblinking and they overlook an area that is being destroyed by man. The creator of the billboard has either forgotten or abandoned it, suggesting a God who no longer looks down upon or cares for the people of this valley. God is not looking out for Myrtle, so Gorge will. He finds Tom, who falsely informs him that it was Gatsby's car what killed his wife. When Nick, Gatsby's friend and also narrator of the whole story, arrives in West Egg, Gatsby is dead. His body is floating in the pool. George had shot and killed Gatsby, and then himself.

One of the book's major strength is it's symbolism which realistically identifies with the period of 1920's and the American setting. I think that author goes on to state that the failure of hopes and dreams, the failure of the American Dream itself, is unavoidable. It's not only because reality cannot keep up with ideals, but also because the ideals are usually too fantastic to be realized. The book also shows how Americans lost their spiritual purpose as material success wiped out spiritual goals. Everyone who wants to better understand who are Americans and what is their American Dream all about should read this book.

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  26. prosinec 2007
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