Illusion and Reality in The Great Gatsby Essay

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Illusion and Reality in The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a novel about one man's disenchantment with the American dream. In the story we get a glimpse into the life of Jay Gatsby, a man who aspired to achieve a position among the American rich to win the heart of his true love, Daisy Fay. Gatsby's downfall was in the fact that he was unable to determine that concealed boundary between reality and illusion in his life.



The Great Gatsby is a tightly structured, symbolically compressed novel whose predominant images and symbols reinforce the idea that Gatsby's dream exists on borrowed time. Fitzgerald perfectly understood the inadequacy of Gatsby's romantic view of wealth. At a young age he
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The Buchanans represent cowardice, corruption, and the demise of Gatsby's dream. Gatsby, unlike Fitzgerald himself, never discovers how he has been betrayed by the class he has idealized for so long. For Gatsby, the failure of the rich has disastrous consequences.



Gatsby's desire to achieve his dream leads him to West Egg Island. He purchased a mansion across the bay from Daisy's home. There is a green light at the end of Daisy's dock that is visible at night from the windows and lawn of Gatsby's house. This green light is one of the central symbols of the novel. In chapter one, Nick observes Gatsby in the dark as he looks longingly across the bay with arms stretched outward toward the green light. It becomes apparent, as the story progresses that "the whole being of Gatsby exists only in relation to what the green light symbolizes This first sight, that we have of Gatsby, is a ritualistic tableau that literally contains the meaning of the completed book" (Bewley 41). A broader definition of the green light's significance is revealed in Chapter 5, as Gatsby and Daisy stand at one of the windows in his mansion. "If it wasn't for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock." "Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had vanished…