The Great Gatsby, by F.
Scott Fitzgerald, is a novel that was written in the nineteen-twenties, taking place at that time. The novel is set in New York in the area of Long Island, which is separated into two egg-shaped halves; West Egg is where people with Old Money live, while people with New Money live on East Egg. A man who goes by the name of Gatsby owns a mansion on Long Island, where he holds festive parties regularly. He purposely moved in across the bay from a woman who he previously dated, named Daisy, whom he has spent years trying to get back.
He hopes that one day she will wander into his mansion for one of his parties, like so many people that attend each one uninvited. He has become obsessed with his desire for her. Fitzgerald uses their relationship, in particular Gatsby’s desire for Daisy, to demonstrate the effects of desire for another on a person’s mind: a divergence between your perception of that person and who they truly are; unsatiated desire leads to emotional loss. Also, Fitzgerald demonstrates that money has a larger influence on a person’s decision-making than desire does. Fitzgerald explains that desire can distort a person’s perception of others from actual people into fantasized versions of them.
For over five years, Gatsby has dedicated his life to getting Daisy after having formed an idealistic view of her as a perfect and dreamlike figure. There is a green light on a dock near Daisy’s house that Gatsby uses to find her when he can’t see the house. It symbolizes an end payoff to all the time it has taken him to reach her. After spending a day with Daisy in his company, Gatsby points it out to her. Fitzgerald writes, “Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished … . Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed … to almost touch her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock.
His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (93). The phrase “the colossal significance of that light had now vanished,” shows that Gatsby is no longer devoting his very existence to reaching Daisy, the green light losing its promise to him for a final payoff. The phrase “It had seemed as close as as star to the moon” illustrates Gatsby thought he was close to Daisy, while he was truly far away from reaching her, in the same way a star may appear to be right next to the moon from Earth, but is in reality millions of miles away. This proves that Gatsby found the chase, pursuit, and desire for Daisy more appealing than the idea of interacting on a person-to-person basis with her, again, as the person she truly is. This reveals that desire has the ability to corrupt a person’s view of another real-life human being into a false image of perfection despite very real flaws, as they are truly imperfect. If you desire something, like a person for example, for too long without obtaining it, you may lose something else while so focused on that which you desire. Fitzgerald again uses Gatsby’s desire for Daisy to show this.
After one of Gatsby’s parties, one that Daisy and her husband attends, Gatsby talks to Nick about his fear that Daisy is not satisfied with him. It becomes clear to Nick that Gatsby has lost a part of himself in the time he has longed to spend time with Daisy once again. Fitzgerald writes, “He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover… some idea of himself, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been… disordered since then, but if he could once return to a starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was…” (110). The phrase “he wanted to recover an idea of himself, that had gone into loving Daisy” illustrates that Gatsby turned most of his attention towards his desire for Daisy as the person he thinks of her as. The word “disordered” demonstrates that Gatsby loses control of his desire for Daisy, because it suggests he was unable to function properly.
Therefore his life became consumed by his fantasy of her. When Fitzgerald uses the phrase “if he could… return to a starting place and go over it all slowly” it suggests Gatsby wants to relive his former relationship with Daisy, because Gatsby was so overcome by desire that he forgot who Daisy was in those years away from her. He must have lost sight of his purpose as a human being when he became obsessed with her, confusing his purpose with his desire for Daisy.
This proves that a lust or craving for a person without it being fulfilled leads to personal loss.Finally, Fitzgerald asserts that money has a stronger influence over people’s action than desire. Gatsby was foolishly dishonest with the rest of the world. He bought a lavish mansion across the bay from Daisy, claiming to have inherited his money and used the phrase “old sport,” used by the upper class, to strengthen his facade of extravagant wealth. Gatsby used every opportunity to show off the many aspects of wealth that he possessed. Fitzgerald writes, “He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real” (91).
The phrase “he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her” illustrates Gatsby is desperate for Daisy’s approval, and in that desperation uses the appearance of wealth to prove himself to her, because he is watching for each individual thing Daisy, as a true rich person, is drawn to. The phrase “in her actual and astounding presence none of it was… real” shows that Gatsby begins to realize who Daisy truly is. Daisy is no longer, in Gatsby’s mind, the image of perfection he dreamed up, because she exists as an actual human being, and as a human being, she is flawed. The word “well-loved”, when used to describe Daisy’s eyes, relates to her love of money, and not of Gatsby.
This combined with the fact that she leaves Gatsby in favor of her rich and wealthy husband, whom she also does not love, suggests that money has a more impactful position on people’s actions than the positions of both desire and love.Fitzgerald exemplifies the point that desire distorts one’s image of a person they dream of, ignoring the reality of that person, their flaws and all. Secondly, Fitzgerald hints at the idea that desire for a person may end up with loss, rather than satisfaction. Lastly, The Great Gatsby illustrates the truth of many who are driven by a search for wealth: money has greater influence over those striving to obtain it than any other desire they may have. The novel ties together these points about the true nature of desire in the world beyond.Lust, passion, craving, infatuation