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Destruction of Dreams, Failure of Dreamers in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby, the protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is used to contrast a real American dreamer against what had become of American society during the 1920’s. By magnifying the tragic fate of dreamers, conveying that twenties America lacked the substance to fulfill dreams and exposing the shallowness of Jazz-Age Americans, Fitzgerald foreshadows the destruction of his own generation.

The beauty and splendor of Gatsby’s parties masked the innate corruption within the heart of the Roaring Twenties. Jazz-Age society was a bankrupt world, devoid of morality, and plagued by a crisis of character. Jay Gatsby is a misfit in this world. He tries, ironically, to fit into the picture: he fills his garage with status, his closet with fashion, his lawns with gaiety, his mannerisms with affectation. However, he would never be one of “them”. Ironically, his loss seems to Nick Caraway to be his greatest asset. Nick reflects that Gatsby’s drive, lofty goals, and, most importantly, dreams set him apart from this empty society. Fitzgerald effectively contrasts the dreamer, Jay Gatsby, against a world referred to by Gertrude Stein as the “Lost Generation”, and by T.S. Eliot as “The Wasteland”.

Since America has always held its entrepreneurs in the highest regard, brandishing them with praise and mounting the most successful on the highest pedestals, it is almost automatic to predict that Fitzgerald would support this heroic vision of the American Dreamer within his novel. However, to enforce the societal corruption evident in the twenties, Fitzgerald contradicts the notion of the successful dreamer by indicating, instead, that dreamers during this era led the most ill-fated lives of all. Dan Cody exemplifies th…

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…vel, The Great Gatsby.

Works Cited

Piper, Henry Dan. “Social Criticism in the American Novel in the 1920s.” The American Novel and the Nineteen Twenties. Ed. Malcolm Bradbury and David Palmer. London: Edward Arnold, 1971. 59-83.

Posnock, Ross. “‘A New World, Material Without Being Real’: Fitzgerald’s Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby.” Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.” Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 201-13.

Raleigh, John Henry. “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” Mizener 99-103.

Sklar, Robert. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967.

Spindler, Michael. American Literature and Social Change. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983.

Trilling, Lionel. “F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.” Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 13-20.

Free Essays – A Farewell to Arms as Historical Romance

A Farewell to Arms – Historical Romance

The novel “A Farewell to Arms” should be classified as a historical romance. Many people in reading this book could interpret this to be a war novel, when in fact it was one of the great romance novels written in its time. When reading this book you notice how every important event of the war is overshadowed by the strong love story behind it.

The love story is circled around two people, Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. Frederic is a young American ambulance driver with the Italian army in World War I. He meets Catherine, a beautiful English nurse, near the front of Italy and Austria. At first Frederic’s relationship with Catherine consists of a game based on his attempts to seduce her. He does make one attempt to kiss her, and is quickly slapped by an offended Catherine. Later in the story, Frederic is wounded and sent to the American hospital where Catherine works. Here he finds a part of him he has never had before, the ability to love. This is where his feelings for Catherine become extremely evident. Their relationship progresses and they begin a passionate love affair.

After his stay in the hospital, Frederic returns to the war front. During this period, Hemmingway heavily indicates the love Frederic has for Catherine. It is evident that Frederic is distracted by his love for Catherine.

During a massive retreat from the Austrians and the Germans, the Italian forces become disordered and chaotic. Frederic is forced to shoot an engineer sergeant under his command, and in the confusion is arrested by the Italian military police for the crime of not being Italian. Disgusted with the Army and facing death, Frederic decides he has had enough of the war; he dives in to the river to escape.

After swimming to safety, Frederic boards a train and reunites with Catherine. She is pregnant with their baby. With the help of an Italian bartender, Catherine and Frederic escape to Switzerland, and plan to marry after the baby is born. When Catherine goes into labor, the doctor suddenly discovers that her pelvis is too narrow to deliver the baby. He attempts an unsuccessful Cesarean section, and she dies in childbirth with the baby. To Frederic, her dead body is like a statue; he walks back to his hotel without finding a way to say goodbye, seemingly lost forever.

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