Jay Gatsby: The Dissolution of a Dream

A dream is defined in the Webster\'s New World Dictionary as: a
fanciful vision of the conscious mind; a fond hope or aspiration; anything
so lovely, transitory, etc. as to seem dreamlike. In the beginning pages
of F. Scott Fitzgerald\'s novel The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the
narrator of the story gives us a glimpse into Gatsby\'s idealistic dream
which is later disintegrated. "No- Gatsby turned out all right at the end;
it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his
dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows
and short-winded elation\'s of men." Gatsby is revealed to us slowly and
skillfully, and with a keen tenderness which in the end makes his tragedy
a deeply moving one.
Jay Gatsby is a crook, a bootlegger who has involved himself with
swindlers like Meyer Wolfsheim, the man who fixed the 1919 World
Series. He has committed crimes in order to buy the house he feels he
needs to win the woman he loves. In chapter five Nick says, "...and I
think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of
response it drew from her well-loved eyes." Everything in Gatsby\'s house
is the zenith of his dreams, and when Daisy enters Gatsby\'s house the
material things seem to lose their life. Daisy represents a dreamlike,
heavenly presence which all that he has is devoted to. Yes, we should
consider Jay Gatsby as tragic figure because of belief that he can restore
the past and live happily, but his distorted faith is so intense that he
blindly unaware of realism that his dream lacks. Gatsby has accumulated
his money by dealings with gangsters, yet he remains an innocent figure,
he is extravagant. Gatsby is not interested in power for its own sake or
in money or prestige. What he wants is his dream, and that dream is
embodied in Daisy. Ironically, Daisy Buchanan, is a much more realistic,
hard-headed character. She understands money and what it means in
American society, because it his her nature; she was born into it. Gatsby
intuitively recognizes this, although he cannot fully accept it, when he
remarks to Nick that Daisy\'s voice "is full of money." Gatsby will not
admit this essential fact because it would destroy his understanding of
Daisy. In the end, this willful blindness helps lead to his ultimate tragedy.
Gatsby is a romantic, a man who began with a high and exalted
vision of himself and his destiny. He aspires to greatness, which he
associates with Daisy. If he can win her, then he will have somehow
achieved his goal. Gatsby\'s wealth, his mansion, his parties, his
possessions, even his heroism in battle are but means to achieve his
ultimate goal. Gatsby is mistaken, however, in his belief that money can
buy happiness or that he can recapture his past if he only becomes rich.
One of these examples is when the epigraph becomes clear: the four-
line poem of Thomas Park d\'Invilliers that Fitzgerald quotes on the title
page describes exactly what Gatsby has done. He has symbolically worn
the gold hat; he has bounced high, accumulating possessions for this
moment, so that when Daisy sees them she will cry our, like the lover in
the poem, "I must have you." And Daisy does. These shirts move Daisy
not because they are mad of such fine fabric, or the shirts look very
well; they move her because of what the shirts symbolize Gatsby\'s
extraordinary dedication to his dream. This dedication separates him and
makes him morally superior that the materialistic society with which he
lives in.. In this case one could consider Gatsby as morally superior
even when he commits an error of judgment because of a flaw in his
character.
Gatsby is indeed morally superior to the other characters in the
book, but this superiority is another factor which contributes to Gatsby\'s
ultimate misfortune. No matter what we think of Gatsby or of his
dream, we are drawn to him by the sad apprehension that dreams
themselves are often more beautiful than dreams fulfilled. Nick realizes
this, too, when he says: "There must have been moments even that
afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of