The Art of Sacrifice as portrayed in the "Great Gatsby" by F.S. Fitzgerald and "American Beauty" directed by Sam Mendes.

1809 Words Mar 26th, 2008 8 Pages
Sacrifice, the concept of giving up something valuable as a means of gaining more desirable things or preventing evil, is a fascinating art that has long intrigued humankind. In particular, two American texts have captured the essence of it , The Great Gatsby by F.S. Fitzgerald and the 1999 movie American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes. Both texts closely explore the responsibility of an individuals relationship with his or her society for the sacrifices the individual makes; from the disillusionment of the American Dream to how the characters are affected or destroyed by it.

In the world of Jay Gatsby and Lester Burnham, ideals and values are defined by their society. More specifically, theirs is a consumer-driven society, resulting in
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Indeed Gatsby adopts societys false values and he uses other mens desires as his standard of value a reason why he found Daisy so appealing in the first place, many men had already loved Daisy it increased her value in his eyes.

However it must be noted that not all characters are like the aforementioned in their sacrifices, as no matter what the society dictates the ability to choose still lies in the power of the individual. While society may have its guidelines of social acceptability, it is up to the individual whether or not to follow the guidelines. Nick, the voice of The Great Gatsby, is initially attracted to the wealth and glamor of the East but upon realizing that it creates a frantic, aimless lifestyle without substance nor spirituality, rejects it in the end. This milestone is marked by Nicks return to the Mid-West, which is symbolic of his rejection of the superficiality, materialism and amoral disposition of the East and his embracement of the traditional, wholesome values of the Mid-West. In American Beauty, Lesters encounter and resultant obsession with Angela makes him realize the emptiness of his life and he remembers the things he wants again, I feel like Ive been in a coma for about twenty years, and
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