The Great Gatsby': Analytical Essay on Respect

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On the surface, the Great Gatsby novel is based on the story of Jay Gatsby`s life, in particular describing the tragic love story between him and Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby obsessively pursues her throughout the novel until his death. Beyond this, however, it is clear that Fitzgerald highlights the many themes running throughout the novel regarding the true disparities in the sociology of class and wealth during this era. The story takes place in post-war society in the roaring 1920s. Gatsby was made aware of the class struggle early on in his life when he lost Daisy when her family refused him because of his lack of wealth and social status, and she went on to marry Tom Buchanan for his social standing as he represented “old aristocracy”. This sent Gatsby into a spin and made it his lifelong purpose and dream to become so-called wealthy enough and good enough for her and therefore equal to the Buchanans. With his newly acquired wealth after the war, he succeeds at grabbing New York society’s attention by purchasing an enormous ostentatious mansion that lies across the bay from the Buchanan’s house. His real intention is to draw in Daisy as he knows she is particularly motivated by materialistic values as well as social status. He starts to throw spontaneous, opulent, lavish parties throughout the summer at the house, which demand public fascination. He uses these parties to establish and buy him social status as well as help to portray him as the man he wants Daisy to see him as in effect attempting to erase his past and background.

He is certain that this will help him win her back. In Chapter 3 at the summer party to which Nick is invited, Fitzgerald purposely uses repetition to emphasize how hard Gatsby is trying to portray himself as a sophisticated “Oxford man” by constantly repeating the Oxford expression “old sport”. Although Gatsby seems like a confident and busy man, he is often second-guessing how he speaks covering up his lies with his new portrayal of what he would like to be seen as. He wants to be seen as a legitimate wealthy businessman who was born a gentleman hence why he tells Nick a lie that he made his money from family inheritance. He never drinks at his parties and is more comfortable as a spectator rather than a host. This is made clear when Nick mistakes him for a guest, “This man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation, but I haven’t even seen the host yet”. The parties allow him to hide his real self behind his wealth and opulent surroundings enabling him to lie about his social breeding. Fitzgerald’s use of the color yellow for Gatsby’s Rolls Royce emphasizes its over-the-top extravagance and his ‘new’ money. Gatsby’s car can, therefore, be seen to be a symbol to further define his character. It was used as an “omnibus” to take guests to and from the house. Nick describes it as “gorgeous” just like he appears to others at his parties. However, the car’s windshield hides Gatsby’s true identity, the car is “terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns”.

Gatsby appears as the one to have achieved the “American dream” the promise of wealth and prosperity in a post-war society which allowed him almost celebrity status. However, most party guests actually never met him or were actually invited. Through the simile “in his blue gardens, men and women came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars”. Fitzgerald conveys a sense of superficiality that surrounds Gatsby’s parties because those attending are only there for the money like a moth to the light. He is a man surrounded by rumors and mystery, regarding how he made his money or where he actually came from. “I heard he is a German spy” and, 'Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once'. He is given a certain questionable business reputation by many, the ladies mention “he is a bootlegger”. Moreover, Fitzgerald uses imagery to emphasize that his parties are presented as opulent in all aspects, shouting about his wealth in all corners including “buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’ oeuvres” and the bar that is “stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials.” Additionally, every two to three weeks, Gatsby decorates his mansion with “several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden” this portrays the immoderate decoration done to impress his guests and unveil his excessive amount of wealth. Fitzgerald also deliberately uses a list to emphasize how wealthy he is, “On Mondays, eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing brushes and hammers and garden shears, repairing the ravages of the night before”.

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In reality, his deeper purpose for these lavish over-the-top summer parties is to potentially lure Daisy into his true love of the house but more importantly impress her and to come and meet the new Gatsby and erase his past self. He wants her to hear and be impressed by all those New York society families who attend as well as show her the extent of his new wealth. This would, therefore, show he can be equal to Tom Buchanan the man she chose to marry instead of him. During the tea party at Nick’s house, Fitzgerald shows a different side to Gatsby’s confidence at his parties, that he struggles with the complexities of love and social expectations, and appears nervous, and vulnerable. He is desperate to impress Daisy. Gatsby insists on having Nick’s grass cut and has a “greenhouse” of flowers delivered for the event. Fitzgerald intentionally uses hyperbole here to exaggerate his over-preparation for his meeting with Daisy portraying a more vulnerable Gatsby and showing his lack of confidence. Gatsby arrives wearing a “white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie” to show off his extensive wealth and sophistication again determined to impress her. We see how anxious he is when Gatsby’s nerves lead him to knock the clock off the mantle, symbolizing that he wants to stop time, rewind the clock, and regain the time lost with Daisy. Furthermore, Fitzgerald uses the weather to portray Gatsby’s emotions.

The rain represents Daisy and Gatsby’s sadness in their past. His nervousness to meet Daisy is shown when Gatsby panics and rushes outside into the rain soaking his suit, the water further symbolizes his fear of meeting her when Fitzgerald writes “Gatsby, pale as death with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets, was standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes.” And as Gatsby and Daisy start the conversation it becomes exceptionally awkward; he shows further vulnerability and repeats to Nick. “This is a terrible mistake… a terrible, terrible mistake.” Fitzgerald then refers to the weather again to portray Gatsby’s emotions when Daisy and Gatsby eventually settle down alone to talk without Nick, the weather clears “the sun shone again” and they feel comfortable again “and every vestige of embarrassment is gone”. This tea party clearly juxtaposes chapter three, contrasting his portrayal of himself at his lavish parties with lots of people, where he seems to be seen as fearless. Gatsby’s funeral was barely attended by anyone, in great contrast to his previous parties, with the exception of Nick, the minister, Gatsby’s dad, and Owl Eyes. “Nobody came.' Fitzgerald clearly makes reference here through this short sentence that Gatsby would have been so disappointed that no society names attended, and the biggest insult was that even Daisy, the love of his life, was not present. 'I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn’t sent a message or a flower,' said Nick. Nick had even called the Buchanan’s home, asking if they would attend Gatsby’s funeral, but Nick was told that they had left town with no address or date to return to Long Island. This clearly shows the great disloyalty and disrespect for Gatsby and emphasizes the superficiality of the era’s elitist society and that in the end, he failed in realizing his dream of his portrayal of himself being accepted by the upper class. In conclusion, throughout the novel, Gatsby is frequently thought of as confident, popular, and wealthy. However, the real Gatsby is insecure and vulnerable and it is clear that he is trying to be someone that he is not in order to impress Daisy.

Gatsby spent his life trying to portray himself as a sophisticated wealthy millionaire who could afford everything. He thought if he made enough money acquired enough possessions and threw enough lavish parties with the right people, he would win Daisy’s respect and win her back. In reality, the upper class never did or would accept him emphasizing the elitist era.

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The Great Gatsby’: Analytical Essay on Respect. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-analytical-essay-on-respect/
“The Great Gatsby’: Analytical Essay on Respect.” Edubirdie, 09 Feb. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-analytical-essay-on-respect/
The Great Gatsby’: Analytical Essay on Respect. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-analytical-essay-on-respect/> [Accessed 18 Apr. 2024].
The Great Gatsby’: Analytical Essay on Respect [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Feb 09 [cited 2024 Apr 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-analytical-essay-on-respect/
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