In the novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby represents the American Dream of the 1920’s comprised of social values, wealth and excess in hope to make his own dream a reality. Social Values: 1. “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (17) Explanation: The social environment in existence within the novel does not value the intelligence of women.
By wishing her daughter to be unintelligent Daisy is asserting that the social constructs in evidence at the time entail that her daughter would be happier if she was simple; she will not be bored and frustrated in her existence in the same way Daisy herself is. 2. “in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged” (18) Explanation: Although Tom and Daisy are considered wealthy members of the aristocracy their actions reveal an underlying egotism that reveals the shallow nature of society.
Tom and daisy have a disregard for people who are from a lower class and they believe that money makes them superior. 3. “Mrs. Wilson changed her costume sometime before and was now attired in an elaborate afternoon dress of cream colored chiffon which gave out a continual rustle as she swept about the room” (35) Explanation: By referring to Myrtle as Mrs Wilson, Fitzgerald is emphasizing the fact that she is married and is therefore acting in a manner that is inappropriate.
The fact that her dress is cream further reinforces her lack of purity. Her willingness to engage in an affair that is morally wrong is representative of the values of the society of the twenties. 4. “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the Cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known” (64) Explanation: Here Nick is revealing a great deal about the society of the twenties. During this period a great deal of money was being circulated and, alongside it, dishonesty and corruption.
His comment reveals the degree of dishonesty in evidence within society at this time. Wealth: 1. “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys… and ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud…. ” (23) Explanation: This quote describes the life of people who have failed to acquire wealth. Their existence and surroundings are represented by the color grey. They live in poverty and serve as an image of failure. 2.
“A pair of stage ‘twins’- who turned out to be the girls in yellow- did a baby act in costume and champagne was served in bigger than finger bowls” (36) Explanation: The color yellow is of significance here and is a color that is used to emphasize the moral corruption the twins represent. The use of costume within the act is illustrative of the facade people use. As with the costume, the material items they possess entail that the characters in the novel are false and define themselves by material wealth as opposed to being true to their characters. 3.
“They were careless people, tom and daisy they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (170) Explanation: This quote portrays the impact that wealth has had on Daisy and Tom. They have no regard for anything or anyone else. When they encounter problems they simply throw money at them, they believe that their material possessions make them immune to difficulties, which are something that people who are not as significant as them can deal with.
They are consumed by their superficial possessions. 4. “It was a photo of the house, cracked in the corners and dirty with many hands… He had shown it so often that I think it was more real to him now than the house itself” (180). Explanation: This quote represents the relationship Gatsby has with his father. Even his own family value him for his wealth and not for who he truly is. His father takes a picture of a house to the grave with him. This shows what he values; material possessions. Excess: 1.
“the one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard—it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. it was Gatsby’s mansion” (9) Explanation: This description of Gatsby’s mansion reveals further conspicuous consumption. He has spent copious amounts of money on acquiring a status symbol that he hopes can attract the attention of Daisy. Whilst he has enough money to be able to spend excessively he do so in a futile manner; such material things can never make him truly happy.
This can be perceived to be a criticism of the falseness of the American Dream. 2. “His family were enormously wealthy – even in college his freedom with money was a matter of reproach – but now he’d left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that. ” (10) Explanation: Nick was explaining the wealth of Tom Buchanan’s family stemming back from his college days.
At that young age he had the unusual luxury of money and then showcased his wealth by bringing a fleet of polo ponies along with him when he relocated. The quote shows how people would spend all their money just for amusement, because they could not because they needed anything. 3. “The living room was crowded to the doors with a set of tapestried furniture entirely too large for it, so that to move about was to stumble continually over scenes of ladies swinging in the garden of Versailles. ” (35) Explanation: Mrytle is obsessed with projecting an image of that of a wealthy individual.
Her apartment shows that whilst she has money and possessions, she is lacking in class and is unable to grasp what is appropriate for her apartment. 4. “composed of oddly familiar pieces of ivory. Finest specimens of human molars,’ he informed me” (77) Explanation: Here Wolfsheim is describing his cufflinks. This again shows how someone has made a purchase simply to make a point. In this case his elaborate cufflinks represent the combination of gentry with barbarinism. His conspicuous consumption is aimed at proving his status to those around him.