When reading a story that filled with plot twists, climaxes, and various characters and emotionally charged events, one must be able to become emotionally invested in such a work to read what the author is trying to convey in the work of literature. Only by reading into the minds of the characters can one decipher the encoded messages that is deeply embedded in a work of literature and by this, catch a glimpse into the mind of the author and understand the underlying themes present within its pages.
This method of literary Interpretation Is commonly known as the Marxist Theory of Interpretation. Of all the books I have read In my lifetime, never has a novel or story in literary fiction has ever captured my interest anymore than F. Scott Fitzgerald gem of a novel, The Great Gatsby. While reading this novel, it was apparent to me that there were several possibilities of themes that could be drawn from its composition. However, to me the one interpretation that I receive from this novel that seems to ring the loudest in my mind’s ear Is: Money, fame, and fortune cannot purchase happiness nor love.
The first morsel of Gatsby that begins to Illuminate this theme of unobtainable Joy y the means of fame and wealth comes quite early in the story. Tom Buchanan, a brutish ex-national college football hero with a rich and wealthy upbringing, seems to have everything he could ever want in the material world: mansions, servants, horses, parties, social standard, brutish strength, and even a beautiful wife. However, when describing Tom, the narrator, Nick states, “l felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some Irrecoverable football game” (Fitzgerald, p. ). When I read this, It seems to me that this Is Insinuating that Tom, although he has seemingly everything, still is just in pursuit of the next big thing to make him feel as prideful and powerful as he did back in his glory days in college football. This alone establishes a main part of the Marxist Theory that a character can be driven by the hand of their own ideology in which has Tom captive because his Ideology of himself Is to always have that cloud of glory and wealth he enjoyed In those days gone by.
Even having a beautiful wife wasn’t enough as It Is shown in the story that Tom has “some woman in New York” (Fitzgerald, p. 20). A refectory happily married man wouldn’t need another woman in another city and all that wealth and status in society still could not bring satisfaction to his own heart about his own self. This is possibly driven by the many girls no doubt that frequented his company while he was the filthy rich star football player back in college and that ideology Is how Tom perceives himself and his own purpose.
Therefore, this supports that wealth cannot buy happiness but Instead must be personally felt from within. The next big indication of the author’s underlying message of happiness being unreachable through fame and riches comes from Tom’s wife and Gatsby true love: Daisy Buchanan. While visiting with his first cousin, Daisy early in the novel, Daisy takes the time to elaborate openly to Nick of her outlooks on life, especially after she thinks so?the most advanced people. And I KNOW. I’ve been everywhere and done everything” (Fitzgerald, p. 20).
Daisy, Just like her husband, Tom, has everything the materialistic world can offer and is even a new mother as well. Yet, when she views the world, she sees it as being terrible and thus expects everything to be terrible to such a point that she has convinced herself that everyone else thinks it is too. Down through Daisy’s life, not being allowed to marry the first man she married who had no money and was away in the Great War held her up as she struggled to make her life’s plans and this ideology that she had to keep up with the other rich folk forced her to marry out of materialism instead of happiness.
This ideology of social status held her captive ever since and thus although she has the wealth she wanted, her happiness still is non-existent. This is not only the author again mirroring the sage that money cannot buy you happiness but also a bit of early foreshadowing of how terrible that she will turn out to be in the end. The next and most important figure in the book is Jay Gatsby himself. Gatsby, a well to do upper class man is mostly a mystery to everyone. He has this huge adoring mansion with servants and has huge over-the-top parties in which the “who’s who” of society always come.
Yet, Gatsby himself rarely makes an appearance but befriends our narrator, Nick. Nick is not of an upper-class family but has found a home in a somewhat of an eye-sore house that has been overlooked that is nestled between woo huge mansions; one of those belonging to Gatsby. When they finally get to meet, they discover that Nick’s cousin Daisy is a long lost love of Gatsby. Upon arranging for them to meet, we learn that the enormous mansion and all the parties were Just Gatsby doing everything he could in hopes of drawing Daisy to the party to find her all over again.
This first off shows that Gatsby was dwelling in the ideology that since Daisy wanted fame and fortune, then fame and fortune would find her and bring her back to him. Yet, when showing her the mansion, Daisy questions how Gatsby can tend to live in such a huge place all by himself. He replies, “l keep it full of interesting people night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people” (Fitzgerald, p. 97). This of course tells me that the huge mansion and all the wealth and prestige that Gatsby seems to have has not provided him happiness.
This is why he must feel the house with people whom he refers to as interesting as to all him in some sort of way to live a bit vicariously through the lives of those who frequent his house. Plus, while still taking Daisy through the house, Nick observes, He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes” (Fitzgerald, p. 98). This showed without a doubt that it wasn’t the possessions that mattered at all to Gatsby. He never drew happiness from obtaining them.
He only drew happiness from the Joy that his possessions seemed to give Daisy. His happiness wasn’t in the money, but in her approval. This supports the ideology of wealth being the tool to get her love back that Gatsby was invoking in his attempt to win her heart again. However, we discover this happiness was to be short-lived. In foreshadowing this, Nick says, “l saw that the expression of bewilderment came back into Gatsby face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness” (Fitzgerald, p. 103).
This quote in the book sets the tone for while Gatsby Joy could only come from her and not wealth. Gatsby wondered at this point whether the happiness he felt was of a true nature, which could only come from Daisy really loving him, or was his happiness lost in only her admiration of the materialistic possessions he had obtained. At this point, I believe that Gatsby became conscious of his ideology of using wealth as a tool and that it could not bring him the happiness he so longed for with Daisy. Yet, he persisted in his endeavors to get her back.
Later in the novel, we are met with the main conflict which occurs between Gatsby and Daisy’s husband Tom. Gatsby openly admits to Tom that Daisy never really loved him, but only married him because Gatsby was penniless and unable to make it back home from the Great War. This alone proves through Gatsby own declaration that Daisy is a superficial individual who only wants the high-class living that wealth and tutus provides. However, even in obtaining this, Daisy is still not happy. This also supports the earlier statement that Gatsby is now aware of the ideology of wealth as being Daisy’s only true love.
Speaking to Gatsby about Daisy’s decision to marry Tom and not wait on Gatsby to return from the war, Nick thinks to himself, “Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes” (Fitzgerald, p. 161). Referring to her world as Ewing artificial and containing sadness and suggestiveness eludes to the fact that Daisy is not truly happy with her life but can only live it with wealthy possessions and people constantly in her life. Something artificial is not genuine, but a cheap copy.
Therefore, even her happiness was not genuine, but also a cover-up in an attempt to fill her life with enough wealth as to make it bearable in her own eyes. When you read it closely, you begin to feel a bit sorry for her because it seems that this lavish lifestyle has actually taken her captive and it is as if she is almost more under its control. This also supports the Marxist Theory of people being driven by ideologies and the theme that money cannot purchase true happiness. The story culminates to the bitter end and harsh reality that although wealth and status can get you recognized, it cannot make you happy.
When a lady is killed by Gatsby car with Daisy as the driver, she allows Gatsby to take the fall for it and ultimately lose his life by the gun of the dead woman’s husband. Existing in the ideology of social status, Daisy chooses to let Gatsby pay the ultimate price for the crime she committed because she was unwilling to tear her away from the lifestyle he lives for. Honestly, her ideologies of wealth was much deeper than anyone else in this story. After all the money, the mansion, the countless parties, in death Gatsby has no true friend but Nick.
All others forsake him other than four servants, his father he had not seen in two years, and an unknown man who used to look through Gatsby books in his library. Nick remembers, “l found myself on Gatsby side, and alone” (Fitzgerald, p. 175) Nick works to no avail trying to find people willing to come to Gatsby funeral. He felt as if he owed Gatsby that much. “l wanted to get someone for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and assure him: ‘I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for single flower for Gatsby funeral.
However, through Nick’s actions at the end, we are met with a good ideology rather than the bad one. Nick believes in the ideology of true friendship and thus remains Gatsby true friend even after his death. Although Nick is left still living in the rich neighborhood, but alas unhappy in spite of it, his friendship with Gatsby remains intact. Thus The Great Gatsby ends with the life of an extraordinary man being shot own in cold blood, not so much by the killer holding the gun as much as it was by the inability of his wealth and status to obtain him the happiness he sought so desperately for from Daisy.
The ideologies of using wealth to be happy fails everyone involved. Neither character in this story whether it be Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, or Nick finds any happiness in the end. Nick loses his best friend, Gatsby loses his life, and Tom and Daisy continue to live in the web of false securities that wealth can provide, still remaining captive to the ideology of wealth and social status to measure one’s worth.