In The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald the main character Nick meets a mysterious man named Gatsby and gets entangled in his life. The 1920’s mentality forced Gatsby to higher his social and economic standing to succeed and reach his goals. This “get rich quick” era forced people to do immoral things in order to succeed. Gatsby felt obligated to become wealthy to gain Daisy’s love and attention. There was also extremely poor police enforcement during this time.
Which allowed Gatsby to take actions without having to think about the consequences. The prohibition was also passed which caused the movement of illegal alcohol. Gatsby hopped onto this wagon to get quick and easy money.
During this time men were expected to hold certain standards to be recognized and wanted by women. One of which was being extremely wealthy in either new or old money. Due to the rising gap between the rich and poor, many were frantic and strove to their “awaiting” fortunes (Avey).
Daisy herself lives by the materialistic standards regarding a man’s eligibility to catch a woman’s eye. She made it very clear that “(r)ich girls don’t marry poor boys”(The Great Gatsby). Due to this Gatsby had the sense obligation to become rich so he could be worthy of Daisy. Despite knowing that she only would love him for his money and not himself. He did not feel it was unjust because it was such a normal expectancy of women to have for men back then.
It is true that Daisy only followed the money, however she originally loved him for himself and not his wealth. She truly cared for Gatsby and took risks to be with him because of her love for him. “Tell’em all Daisy’s Change’ her mine. Say: Daisy’s change’ her mine!” (Fitzgerald 77). She was even willing to cancel her wedding with Tom to be with Gatsby. Yet, she never did cancel their wedding and she moved on with her life. That is until Gatsby showed up in her life again with a mountain of fortune. It was only then that she was willing to make a relationship with him. She had stayed with Tom due to his enormous wealth and “(s)tring of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars”(Fitzgerald 77). In the end she chose a stranger with wealth over a man she had true feelings for. Which again shows how powerful the persuasion of wealth was over love.
People were also very reckless during this time, due to the poor police enforcement. Which allowed Gatsby to take risky decisions to reach his desires without a second thought. Police oftenly got bribed into certain actions and did not enforce laws as strictly(Business and Economy). An example is when Gatsby once got pulled over by an officer, but was let go due to certain reasons. “‘Right you are,’ agreed the policeman, tipping his cap. ‘Know you next time, Mr. Gatsby. Excuse me!’”(Fitzgerald 68). It is strange that he was let go so easily by the officer when he showed some sort of card to him. The only explanation for this could be that the card was a symbol for his side business. Which could involve his customers being citizens or even a few officers. Gatsby took advantage of the weakness in the police system to continue his business and threw his moralities away. This was an easy decision for him since he knew he have some officers (customers) protect him.
It is not certain that Gatsby bribed the police or had influence over them. For there is another situation where he is not capable of escaping the police. It was when he was going to be captured for a murder he did not commit, but was killed before they could arrest him. “‘ You ought to go away,’ I said. ‘It’s is pretty sure they’ll trace your car’”(Fitzgerald 147). Gatsby was surely going to get caught, but he did nothing to save himself. If he truly had power over the police then he could have done something. This situation is different though because he willingly gave up due to the circumstances. He could not believe that Daisy was just going to leave him to rot. Despite her betrayal he still says, “‘ I don’t think she ever loved him…’”(Fitzgerald 152). He was trying to convince himself that everything would work it’s way out, but in the back of his mind he knew she would not save him. Because of this he chose to get caught so he could somehow run away from his problem in jail.
A fast route to riches was the selling of illegal alcohol, but it was risky. Gatsby sought the chance to get easy money and took the opportunity without hesitation. Due to the prohibition, the selling of alcohol was very profitable(The Roaring Twenties). It is insinuated that Gatsby is involved in this business when he asks Nick if he wants to join him to get money. “‘(y)ou might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing’”(Fitzgerald 83). This clearly shows his involvement in the movement of illegal alcohol and explains how he got all of his money. Since Gatsby’s timeline of getting wealthy was so short, he felt as if his only choice was to get into this business. If not then then he would certainly lose Daisy forever. He let go of morals to take the easy route to his desires and did not regret his choice.
Gatsby is a hard worker despite his choice to sell illegal alcohol. For it is easy money, but it is money he earned on his own and he was smart about it. He is a self-made man who started from nothing and rose to the top. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people…”(Fitzgerald 99). It was because of his determination that he got to where he was and not by him just sitting idly by. Despite this Gatsby had earned his riches, but never quit the business. He stayed and continued to commit crimes to get his wealth that he immaturely spent. He could have just stopped and manage his money wisely and at least keep some sort of dignity. However he was still involved in the risky business till his death. “‘Hell of a note, isn’t it? Get my wire?’”(Fitzgerald 167). Gatsby shamelessly still held onto the convenience of the illegal alcohol movement to get his wealth. This possibly could have just been the greed and laziness that had developed in him over time in the business.
The demanding social and economic expectations during the 1920’s obligated Gatsby to take certain risks to succeed. Men who wanted attention and be easily liked by women were expected to be very wealthy. Gatsby felt it was just for Daisy to love him for his money due to the normalcy of it during that era. The lack of police enforcement tempted people to take moral less decisions. Gatsby took advantage of this and took the risky route to get his wealth because of the great outcomes. Desperate people hopped on the selling of illegal alcohol because of the uprising due to the prohibition. Gatsby was desperate to get Daisy that he took the fastest route to riches. Despite Gatsby’s morally questionable decisions he did this all for a woman he loved and love causes people do irrational things.