Theme of Alcohol in Francis Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby'

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Francis Scott Fitzgerald in his novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ in one way or another touched on the topic of alcohol and addiction to it, characteristic of the society of that era.

Caraway is particularly susceptible to alcohol in ‘The Great Gatsby’. Nick Caraway drinks to avoid his reality and associated problems. Secondly, he drinks a lot of alcohol, especially in parties to avoid socializing with strangers. On the afternoon of Myrtle's party, he states, “I sat down discreetly in the living-room and read a chapter of Simon Called Peter—either it was terrible stuff or the whiskey distorted things, because it didn't make any sense to me” (p. 19). A couple of weeks later at Gatsby's party, he notes, “I had taken two finger bowls of champagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound” (p. 31). Caraway is by and large displayed as being calmer and more discerning than everyone around him and in this manner a progressively dependable storyteller. However, in Chapter 2, Nick's story is especially divided and incoherent which mirrors his inebriated state at the gathering in Tom's house in New York. Nick's intoxication carries him to a similar degree of incongruity and failure to fathom occasions as different characters, in this way including his group of spectators in a similar vulnerability. In this section, he is as befuddled as Myrtle, Tom, Catherine and the McKee’s, and, as the gathering gets fierce with Tom breaking Myrtle's nose, he reacts by leaving and his story continues without compassion. The associations between one occasion and another are likewise broken in this section, utilizing ellipsis toward the conclusion to feature the impact of intermittency, making a feeling of an unreasonable and tremendous existence where significance is lost.

Tom Buchanan has a high tolerance for alcohol but can’t seem to control his temper that worsens when under the influence. In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Tom is always seen with an alcoholic beverage. Rarely will he be without one. “‘I’ll get some whiskey’, answered Tom” (Fitzgerald, 2004). This shows that Tom is reliant on alcohol in every situation. If there is no alcohol present, he will suggest that he go and get some. In Chapter 2 of ‘The Great Gatsby’, Tom had a few drinks with his mistress, Myrtle Wilson. She provoked him by repeatedly saying ‘Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!’ and that lit up a fit of anger within Tom that he just couldn't control, especially since he had consumed a few drinks beforehand. He swung at her and broke her nose. This shows that too much alcohol can result in loss of control and unstable moods. Tom Buchanan has a short temper and when mixed with the excessive amount of alcohol that he consumes, the result is not very pleasant.

At the point when Nick goes to one of Gatsby's gatherings without precedent for Chapter 3, he quickly means to get an alcoholic at the mixed drink table to just evade looking alone and without reason. Scratch and Jordan Baker experiences an inebriated Owl Eyes in this gathering just because, as well, as they stroll around the chateau and pass by the library in look for Gatsby. Owl Eyes, as he chats with the two, expresses that he had been inebriated for seven days.

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“There was dancing now on the canvas in the garden; old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably, and keeping in the corners ─ and a great number of single girls dancing individualistically, or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps. By midnight the hilarity had increased. A celebrated tenor had sung in Italian, and a notorious contralto had sung in jazz, and between the numbers people were doing 'stunts' all over the garden, while happy, vacuous bursts of laughter rose toward the summer sky. 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 glasses bigger than finger bowls. The moon had risen higher, and floating in the Sound was a triangle of silver scales, trembling a little to the stiff, tinny drip of the banjoes on the lawn” (53).

Chapter 5 highlights Gatsby and Daisy's gathering, which had been set-up by Nick. As the two arrive at Gatsby's room after a visit, Gatsby then hauls out a wine glass and beverages; a jug of Chartreuse. Effectively apprehensive, Gatsby, as Nick had seen, had gone through two states and was entering a third one, inferable from his drinking. Humiliation, unexplainable delight, and afterward a region of marvel at Daisy; Gatsby was in those three states.

Gatsby is found in the novel as an exacting non-consumer and even though tossing the extreme drinking parties he never partakes in devouring the liquor like his visitors. Gatsby knew about the frightening influence liquor had on individuals and this is could be the reason he decided not to participate in it and only watch his visitors. In one sense, Gatsby's clothes to newfound wealth example of overcoming adversity make him an exemplification of the American dream. He began existence with little, as the child of genuinely ineffective ranchers. When he was a youngster, he had even less, having intentionally repelled himself from his family, incapable to grapple with the part he had been managed throughout everyday life. While all alone, he had the chance to reexamine himself, and due exclusively to his creativity, Jimmy Gatz advanced into Jay Gatsby. In that capacity, life turned out to be entirely different (although he was missing one key fixing: cash). He was never again attached to his initial years; however, he could envision whatever past for himself he wanted. And afterward, he began to look all starry eyed at, a decisive episode that would change a mind-blowing course for eternity. After meeting Daisy, all that he did was for the solitary motivation behind winning her. Cash was, basically, the issue that averted their being as one, thus Gatsby ensured he could never again be without it. Gatsby's drive and constancy in acquiring his objective are, in numerous faculties, admirable. He is an independent man (in all regards) and thusly, is commendable.

In summary, Francis Scott Fitzgerald's novel is a great illustration of the theme of alcohol and addiction. Thanks to a detailed analysis of the novel's characters, you can see what the society of that era was like and what addictions ruled them.

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Theme of Alcohol in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“Theme of Alcohol in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
Theme of Alcohol in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
Theme of Alcohol in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Apr 17]. Available from:

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