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Is Gatsby’s Dream Defeated by Nothing More Than Time Itself? Essay

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F.Scott Fitzgerald have set up in his novel “The Great Gatsby” the different views of how “ultimately, Gatsby’s dream is defeated by nothing more nor less than Time itself.”, such as Gatsby’s inability to diffrentiate between reality and illusion and his build-up of unrealistic dreams. However, there are also other ways in which his dream can be defeated, other than time itself. The significance and importance of the presence of time as well as other significant factors are both heightened by Fitzgerald’s skillful use of range of key techniques such as symbolism, metaphors, foreshadowing, characterisation to effectively convey the extension of my agreement towards whether or not Gatsby’s dream is defeated by time. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s inability to distinguish between reality and illusion to speak of the defeat of his dream through Gatsby’s ideal persona and through the act of his house as a metaphor. Gatsby’s downfall seems to be result of his inablity to see through and beyond illusions- especially when “he sprang from his platonic conception of himself.” We can see that it’s the attempt itself and the firm belief that he can achieve the impossible that is more than the sum of his reality. Gatsby conforms to the ideal of himself that can transform reality to possibility.

Therefore, using this to his advantage Gatsby ha crafted Daisy into the ideal woman that he wishes her to be. Fitzgerald writes: “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams–not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.” As a reader, we can all recognise that Daisy is only a regular, rich western girl. However, because Gatsby has made her more perfect than she actually is in his imagination,this suggests that the “colossal vitality of his illusions” of Gatsby, the idealized version of himself is what thrown him into the idea that Daisy is perfect. By doing this, I think that Fiztgerald intends to critisize how people in the 1920s blindly giving meaning to the idealism of the American Dream, as much as Gatsby is trying to give as much perfection to his own love, Daisy.

Furthermore, another idea of illusion present in Gatsby is his “failure, incoherent of a house.” By describing his house as a failure and by using the word “incoherent”, the mansion is suggestive of the measure of failure of the democratic ideals. For many years, Gatsby presented his house with demoractic ordeals to enhance his aristocratic image and wealth. Therefore by doing this, Gatsby has hidden away traces of himself which further deepens his illusions and driven him to live in it, as much as his house is an unrealistic object he uses to only impress Daisy. Thus, I do agree that Gatsby is driven by his illusions to an extent that when he faces with reality when Daisy leaves him, he realizes that his dream is gone forever. Fitzgerald also uses Gatsby’s desire to rewind time to show how his dream is defeated, through the manner of Gatsby and the symbolism of the clock in Nick’s house. After Gatsby’s tale with Daisy begins with he falling in love with her in 1917, he is devastated to see her married with Tom. When Nick says “you can’t repeat the past” and Gatsby confidently replied with “of course you can, old sport.”

This determination in Gatsby’s saying manage to highlight his desperation and longing to return to the past, where all of his memories and Daisy were stored. At one point his nervousness during his first meeting with Daisy in Nick’s house, he “knocks a broken clock off the mantel, catching it just before it hits the ground”. The readers can see that this clock goes beyond Gatsby’s nervousness, but is a symbolic nature of his desire for time to stop. In a way, the clock stopped at a specific point in time and is seen to be trapped, just as Gatsby’s life stopped when he was hit with the realization that while he was poor and the fact he could never have Daisy. He’s been so busy chasing a dream rather than enjoying reality, therefore like the clock, he is emotionally stunted in his mindset when he has loved Daisy in the past. Thus, I do agree that even though Gatsby’s dream is defeated by the presence of time, but time doesn’t stop for anyone and this also allow characters like Daisy to have a change of heart-Daisy is no longer a sweet girl Gatsby knew long time ago- but now a selfish woman with a voice “full of money”.

The obsession of wealth that caused Daisy to love Gatsby’s superficial image only proves to us that repeating the past under the influence of the American Dream is impossible. Other than time itself, Fitzgerald also uses comparison to show the hopelessness in Gatsby’s defeated dream even before he was bornt. Nick finishes his story when he “became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes- a fresh green breast of the new world.” Fitzgerald have created the imagery of explorers travelling long distances, from East to West, to escape from their corrupted nations. The use of “Dutch” people here suggests their root coming from the western, and when America was found, they “flowered” of a new nation of peace and moral status.

However, we can see that America itself is now corrupted- highlighting that despite the fact the Dutch wants to create something new and of value, the fact that their root coming from corruption doesn’t go away, and instead brought karma with them here tchuo the new land. Therefore like the Americans, characters in the Great Gatsby travelled west to east in search for wealth while leaving behind the social and moral values, and thus implies how Fitzgerald successfully present to the readers how people like Tom and Daisy- their immorality and purposelessness were created. Like the others, Gatsby choose this way and since he cheated his way to success, his dream failed due to the class distinctions that were present even before his existence. Gatsby’s American Dream is seen to be achieving Daisy, but when Gatsby is no longer the man she used to love, but rather a man of great success and prosperity, this proves to us the heartlessness in characters like Daisy that’s in contrast to the basic nobility of Gatsby’s character.

Thus, I do disagree that even though Gatsby can’t defeat the power of time, his dream is already out of his reach since young. However, Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s build-up of sentimental dreams overtime to prove that he’s defeated by time. Gatsby set out to reach for his dream when he met his Dan Cody. During the time he travelled with Cody, he experienced a glamorous life and began to dream of a bright future where Daisy is present in it. At the end of chapter 1 Nick saw Gatsby “stretched out his arms towards the dark water” tat is a “single green light at the end of the dock.” For a long time the action of Gatsby “stretched out” is a representation of the future that he longs for. The “green light” at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes and dreams of an ideal life though he’s oblivious to the unattainable nature of his wishes.

However, Gatsby reaches not only for Daisy herself but for this idea of Daisy and the utopian future he associates with her. Nick muses that “it had not been merely the stars to which Gatsby had aspired on that June night.” In a sense, the readers can see that Gatsby is reaching for the stars as well. He heavily idealizes all of his dreams and builds them up on a stellar level-so much to an extent that he loses track of time. I think Fitzgerald intends to do this in order to criticize and reveal the nature of the American society led by capitalist system, of creating false hopes for the nepotism in the roaring 1920s through characters like Gatsby living vicariously through the upper class society. Therefore, I agree to an extent that Gatsby is defeated by time because of his failure to pick up the facts that his dreams only exist as memories.

In conclusion, Fitzgeral have displayed throughout the novel many aspects of how Gatsby’s dream is defeated by time and aspects of not only time itself. However, I think I would agree that Gatsby’s dream is largely been affected by the importance and presence of time in the novel- the last line of the book summarizes Gatsby’s struggle as “boats against the currents, born back ceaselessly into the past.” Though the green light symbolizes everything Gatsby wishes for, it directs him backwards in life instead of forwards. He never manages to understand that time doesn’t stop for anyone and move on. This also criticizes the cruel American society during the 1920s it leads to chaos and betrayals, it leads to destroying others who’s trying to reach their goals. Characters like tom and daisy were created and the American Dream failed everyone who tries satisfying themselves.


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