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If you can bounce high, bounce high for her too,
Till she cry ?Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!?
From the beginning of time, men have attempted to solve a mystery of which the answer always seems to be just out of their grasp: The Woman. From working, to playing even in simply trying to ?communicate?, the workings of the woman?s mind have always seemed to befuddle the most intelligent of men. While hunting the ever- elusive scent of a woman as a prospective mate, men are constantly thrown off the circuitous trail that ultimately ends at the woman?s heart. The fictional poet Thomas Parke D?Invilliers? theory on the subject, stated above, seems to be the method of choice for most men: Impress her until she wants you. F. Scott Fitzgerald?s character, Jay Gatsby adopts this method in pursuing the love of Daisy by accumulating extreme amounts of wealth. By means of hidden symbolism, Fitzgerald intertwines his personal beliefs regarding monetary affluence with a phenomenal plot in The Great Gatsby.
Fitzgerald absolutely deplores the wealthy?s preoccupation with themselves, Gatsby?s automobile being a prime example. Gatsby, being a man of great social significance, needs no fancy car in order to make a name for himself. Nevertheless, he drives the Godfather of all cars: the Rolls Royce. ?Everybody had seen it. It was?bright with nickel, swollen here and therein its monstrous length?terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns?(68). This ?death car? as it is later appropriately labeled, is a major symbol of self absorption often associated with extreme wealth. Moreover, the car radiates an obnoxious yellow, a color used by Fitzgerald to set off vulgar displays of prosperity. Upon getting to know and understand the main characters and their motives, the reader comprehends Gatsby?s idealistic dream: to one day rescue Daisy from her prison and go speeding off, blazing a trail into a bright prosperous future. Unfortunately, this trail collides with Myrtle, Tom Buchanan?s mistress, forcing the reader to also understand Fitzgerald?s philosophy; idealism combined with materialism brings tragedy.
Fitzgerald also disapproves of the judging of people by their outward appearance, a habit often practiced by the residents of East and West Egg. Upon becoming aquatinted with Daisy, Gatsby invites her over to his estate for a tour of the grounds, which leads to a startling discovery regarding the content of Daisy?s character; While touring Gatsby?s dressing area, Daisy is absolutely astounded by the innumerable shirts, another symbol of material wealth, strewn about the room ? ?They?re beautiful shirts,? she sobbed?(98). The fact that Daisy cries when she sees these ?beautiful? shirts intrigues the reader, making them wonder why she would cry over something so insignificant. The shirts themselves are quite trivial, however the shirts as a symbol are of epochal significance in the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. Daisy obviously did not marry Tom Buchanon for love, and since material objects are so precious to her, the reader can only assume that she married him for his financial security, and dismissed Gatsby due to his lacking of such. When Daisy realizes that the lifestyle that she could have had with Gatsby would have far exceeded the already affluent life she and Tom have, she loses control and exclaims, ?It makes me sad because I?ve never seen such– such beautiful shirts before?(98). At this point it becomes quite obvious that Daisy would rather enjoy the illusion of ?beautiful shirts?, than spend her life with someone she loves, hence, marring the consecration of true love
The common population often assumes that great wealth comes from great knowledge, and Gatsby, being a man of moderate knowledge, understands this. Within his immense home, he has a library teeming with a sea of books. While at one of Gatsby?s numerous parties, Nick, the narrator, finds himself engulfed in this huge mass of literature, with a drunkard known to the party-goers as ?Owl-eyes?. The man explains the significance of the books by saying ?Absolutely real?have pages and everything?It?s a bona fide piece of printed matter?(he) knew when to stop too?didn?t cut the pages?(50). This statement, though made by a drunken man, has significant meaning. To the superficial high society of Long Island, it doesn?t matter if a person is intelligent or not, however, they must appear to be at all times. Even more interesting, is the fact that this keen sighted, ?owl-eyed?, man has the sight to see through the lie Gatsby lives. He exclaims, “It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! — didn’t cut the pages.”(50) as if this drunken gentleman knew the real Gatsby, and believes he is hiding behind a facade that includes his mansion, his parties, and his library.
Jay Gatsby spends the most productive years of his life accumulating wealth for a materialistic woman, ironically, not worthy of his affection. The ?Great? Gatsby understands this only after he has exhausted his heart, soul, and mind, ?He looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass?(169). Through the defamation of an indeed great man, Fitzgerald?s theme makes itself clear: wealth corrupts all.