One of the major themes in the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the character’s inability to repeat the past, which is expressed in many ways, including one of the main characters named Jay Gatsby. Gatsby’s desire and his inability to realize he can’t change the past ultimately leads to his downfall. He tries endlessly to win back Daisy and do whatever he can to make it so that Daisy only loves him, but is unable to see that the actions he carries out will eventually cause Daisy to not want him back and cause more harm than good like he had originally planned it. This strong urge to change the past and his inability to realize he cannot ultimately leads Gatsby to his downfall.
Gatsby is unable to understand that he cannot change the past. Through persistence he attempts to make his dreams a reality, but is unaware that how he bases his dream off of money and being dishonest ultimately draws corruption to the dream he has. This blind chase for Daisy through dishonest methods leads to him being unaware of the ultimate affect of his actions, which were not intended by him. He believes that through manipulation he can change the past and make it so that Daisy never loved Tom and always wanted him. Through self-expression Gatsby explains his feelings about the past when he says, “Can’t repeat the past?’…’Why of course you can!” (Fitzgerald 110). From his persistence in changing the past, he is unable to understand the consequences that will arise from him trying to change the past, failing to see the problems that arise as he persists with getting Daisy back to try and ultimately change the past.
Throughout the book, Gatsby comes up with plans to draw Daisy back to him. He originally tries to bring attention to himself by throwing lavish parties every so often, hoping that it would draw Daisy to the party and eventually to himself. These parties, however, show how everyone just uses Gatsby for his money but has no intentions of being attached to Gatsby in any emotional way, which Gatsby is unaware of. Another plan is to have tea with Daisy and to show her his house so that she can be impressed and see that he has money and that he is good enough for her now. This idea, though, shows how money is corrupting Gatsby’s dream of being with Daisy and how he is unaware that by trying to impress Daisy with his money will lead to his downfall. Lastly, his plan to take everyone to New York to present that him and Daisy are going off together is where his dreams will ultimately crash and thus beginning a series of events that lead to his sudden death.
These events were first when Daisy sees that Gatsby has lied about his money and will not be able to support her like she had hoped, which shows how money plays a role of being the corruption behind his dream and will ultimately corrupt Gatsby himself. The other major event is when Daisy kills Myrtle with the car. Though he does not know it, this incident will ultimately lead him to his final downfall, where he ends up being shot by Myrtle’s wife, George. This major downfall of Gatsby was set in motion solely upon the fact that Gatsby’s desire and persistence to change that past and inability to understand the consequences of his actions leads to his downfall.
Through Gatsby’s inability to understand that he cannot change the past, he lead his own self toward his early departure. Unfortunately for him, his dream was unknowingly fuelled by corruption. He was fuelled by his own money, which was gained illegally, and by his lust for Daisy, both of which ended up fogging his vision and making him unable to notice what he was actually doing in reality than what he thought he was doing and what he hoped to do, which was gain Daisy back. Though his efforts were by of good intentions, he could not understand that they would end up doing more harm to him than they would actually do good. The most important example of this is the situation in the hotel room, where Daisy’s love for Gatsby was last seen. This was where Daisy uncovered the truth, revealing that his money was gained illegal and that in reality Gatsby would not be able to support Daisy like Tom could since Tom inherited his money legally.
This was also where Gatsby’s inability to realize he cannot change the past is shown the most, where he tries to force Daisy into admitting that she had never loved Tom and that her only love was for Gatsby. Unknowingly, this action by Gatsby is what ultimately caused Daisy to change her mind about wanting to be with Gatsby again and evidently put Gatsby’s dream to an end. Though Gatsby was hurt most by not being able to understand the consequences of his actions and his inability to realize he could not change the past, the other characters too had suffered from this. Nick realizes this sees this from all the characters and realizes one thing for them, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 180). In conclusion, Gatsby’s endless desire to change the past eventually leads to his death. With his relentless efforts to change the past he was unable to understand the consequences of his actions, which set his downfall in motion. All in all it is important to understand that the past cannot be changed.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scrilloner, 2004
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