10 Aug 2011

Sample Essay: Development of Jay Gatsby Character Including His Maturity level and Its Relationship With Society

Deconstructing The Reality Behind The Illusion

In his novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald depicts how Gatsby’s desire for acceptance and prestige reflects not only his misconception of self-worth, but also how the society he lives in imposes a false ideal on aspiring minds such as his. Gatsby believes that gaining a luxurious lifestyle will help him to win over the affections of his beloved Daisy. He learns that Daisy is in love with another man, and he attempts to create a new identity that reflects society’s ideals. The novel illustrates that Gatsby’s desire for requited love only blinds him to the real implications of the world around him. He views being wealthy as vital for feeling a sense of fulfillment in a society that enshrines the pursuit of riches; however, he later becomes aware of the false nature of society’s values. Gatsby views wealth as a means of moving beyond the past, but he ultimately realizes that maturity is the only means of finding a new direction in his life.

The novel illustrates that in order for Gatsby to elevate his status, he must create a false identity in order to give the impression that he is wealthy and prestigious. The society he lives is in is based on gaining self-worth through the endless pursuit of wealth and reputation. Gatsby creates a role for himself as he becomes an actor who maintains the appearance of being in perfect conformity to society’s ideal. The false nature of his role as a wealthy man reflects how society is based on a false ideal. Gatsby views society as being full of promise as he believes that he can finally achieve what he desires and thereby become the object of Daisy’s affections. He views Daisy’s life as safeguarding the guarantee of real happiness, but his pursuit of wealth only enslaves him to society. The ideal of this society deprives people of their independence and true self-worth. Gatsby believes that chasing Daisy is based on his own objectives, but his goal of becoming wealthy is actually society’s objective. Gatsby’s view of Daisy reflects society’s view of the American Dream: “[T]here was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.? [Gatsby had] an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness” (Fitzgerald 1). After becoming wealthy, he is viewed as a celebrity in society due to his lofty reputation and lifestyle; however, the novel illustrates that Gatsby is deprived of self-worth, which is actually based on maturity rather than wealth.

Gatsby creates a persona for himself as he views his true identity as failling to provide a means to overcome the past. He has always desired to have luxury and wealth as he views his old status as being a source of misery. He believes that his new identity allows him to discard his old life and move away from the past. His old life is based on a lack of fulfillment as his existence revolved around a low social and economic status. He views his childhood and parents as an embarassment as his old life never satisfied him: “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all” (Fitzgerald 98). Gatsby’s false identity reflects how society creates a false appearance that conceals its true identity. It reflects how society is based on appearance rather than reality as it actually fails to provide the kind of fulfillment that Gatsby is searching for.

Gatsby’s false identity is based on how he exists solely for maintaining society’s false identity. His personal illusions are inseparable from the illusions that society imposes on itself for the sake of creating a false image of self-worth. The following passage illustrates that Gatsby becomes the slave of society’s ideal, which is the American Dream. His enslavement to the American Dream conforms to his narrow view of self-worth as a teenager, and hence he fails to develop a mature understanding of true self worth: “He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end” (Fitzgerald 98). Gatsby’s illusions involve validating society’s illusions through his abandonment of his actual identity and self-worth.

Gatsby’s failed relationships with his friends and family imply that he has never been satisfied with himself. His dissatisfaction with his old life reflects how he lacks the maturity to appreciate who he truly is. Society’s failure to satisfy his desire for acceptance is based on how he fails to accept himself for who he truly is: “When the Jazz History of the World was over, girls where putting their heads on men’s shoulders, swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, but no one swooned backward on Gatsby, and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder, and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby’s head for one link” (Fitzgerald 50). Gatsby’s friends fail to make him happy as he is never really happy with himself. Gatsby slowly comes to terms with how his life of luxury is merely superificial as it fails to provide the sense of completion he yearns for.

Gatsby later develops a sense of maturity that allows him to identify what he truly desires: a means of actually moving forward with his life. His maturity is based on finding a way to progress in his life that is based on knowing who he truly is rather than his false identity. Gatsby achieves self-discovery by realizing that happiness can only be achieved through maturity and self-awareness. His interaction with Nick illustrates that Gatsby’s life of luxury is merely a reflection of the illusions he embraced as a teenager: “You can’t repeat the past? Can’t repeat the past?”  he cried incredulously.” Why of course you can!”  (Fitzgerald 110). Gatsby’s desire for true happiness is undermined by the illusion that wealth can truly make him happy. Thus, he realizes that the past keeps interfering with his desire to achieve a happy future. Gatsby realizes that he needs to fully overcome his illusions in order to finally be able to move on with his life.

Gatsby desires to achieve maturity by learning from the past, which reflects how his false identity only blinds him to his true-self worth. He feels alienated from his dream of happiness as he has deluded himself all along. His self-discovery is based on finding a means to move forward without clinging to the false ideal of society, which remains obscure and without any real value: “His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp It. He did not know it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity behind the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night” (Fitzgerald 110). Fitzgerald illustrates that Gatsby is a reflection of a society that fails to recognize its own lack of self-worth. Gatsby becomes a victim of society as he realizes that his false identity implies that he is a servant of society that embraces a false ideal.

The novel illustrates that Gatsby desires to achieve a life of luxury for the sake of moving beyond the past and also to be with Daisy. He creates a persona for himself in order to appear as someone he is truly not. He believes that wealth and reputation can elevate him beyond the misery and unhappiness that he associates with his past. He believes that his identity as a wealthy and prestigious man can bring him maturity, but he realizes that society only deprives him of it. He realizes that his life is merely a reflection of the shallow ideals he embraced as a teenager. His persona only blinds him to the fact that true self-worth is based on maturity, which is a vehicle for effectively overcoming one’s past. The novel demonstrates that the American Dream is based on constantly renewing one’s pursuit of a lofty ideal, which always seems beyond reach. Gatsby realizes that maturity can only be achieved by moving beyond the illusions of the past, and that overcoming the past implies accepting how he has failed to benefit from a society that appears to fulfilling but is not.

26 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Self Awareness

One of the foremost hilarious writers of the world is Mark Twain. He has fashioned some of the unsurpassed works of his time, in the most humorous way. The readers of Huckleberry Finn have long valued his typical analysis of self awareness in the protagonist. Jane Austen too focuses on one of her few significant themes of self awareness however in a most amusing, simple and jocular illustration. “Huckleberry Finn is a grand book as it is about a god–about, that is, a power which seems to have a mind and will of its own, and which to men of moral imagination appears to embody a great moral idea.Huck himself is the servant of the river-god, and he comes very close to being aware of the divine nature of the being he serves”. (Trilling 1985).

A fabulous making of Mark Twain, the work of art best exposes his realization in the complementary characters. Huck’s movement towards self-realization is apparent when he utters, “House was jammed again that night, and we sold this crowd the same way” (Twain 224). Again, in Jane Austen’s book Emma the chief theme arises as self awareness. On the other hand, the personal and informal approach lets the reader get caught up in Potok’s; tenor in portraying self awareness in, My name is Asher Lev. All of the novels have intensified the feelings of the protagonists paving way to self-awareness.

Huckleberry Finn is a humorous tale is in the form of a first person recounting and the reader’s insight of the story is through Huck’s self awareness. The protagonist’s critical concern of the dishonor of racism and the gruesomeness of slavery illustrates his self realization.

Self awareness persists as the theme even in the previous book, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where Huck manages to make a massive sum of wealth together with his acquaintance Tom, as they discovered the robber’s burgle. Huck and Jim are portrayed in the course of a voyage of realizing themselves. Their struggle against wretchedness and adversity adds to their self awareness. This further leads Huck to build self awareness.

Twain thoughtfully and with a tang of hilarity, portrays the social and ethical issues from the viewpoint of an innocent lad. He craftily slots in humor and at one fell swoop, brings into light the humiliation of racism and the ugliness of slavery. For this sort of his writing, he has been also long condemned for his open depiction of the social illness of the time.

Twain articulates of the humiliation of racism and the immoralities of slavery with a most cheery and modest appeal. “American humor gave Mark Twain, his materials, his methods, and his inspiration” (Blair 27).    This is a main fraction of the sarcasm that evidently comes to light when scrutinized warily. Very satirically and precisely, Twain disapproves of the facets of ethics in terms of slavery, discrimination and such grave social distresses.

Through a young lad’s awareness we comprehend Twain’s portrayal of slavery as a symbolic depiction of the dilemma of blacks in the United States even in the post-slavery time. The author depicts the duplicity of slavery, indicating how racism affected the oppressors as much as it did those who were exploited. The satirical use of mockery yet again exposes itself when in a world of ethical perplexity, in which apparently “good and civilized” white people similar to Miss Watson and Sally Phelps convey no worry about the prejudice and illegitimacies of slavery or the brutality of extricating a poor slave from his folks.

Again, in Jane Austen’s book Emma the chief theme arises as self awareness. Purposely, Austen intends to evaluate, correspondingly, the beneficial and detrimental affairs in the female protagonist’s life. The situation in Emma’s life is different from that of Huck. Unlike Huck, Emma is born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Emma’s purpose in life is benevolence; nevertheless she is powerless of perceiving her own haughtiness. She ends up causing woe and humiliation through her words. “The danger was at present so unperceived that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes for her.”(Austen, 2007). Conversely, at the end of the day, she realizes her flaws and widens her self awareness.

However, Emma also augments her self awareness to realize her position and stance and thus her importance in other’s lives. “She was quite concerned and ashamed and resolved to not do such things any longer.” (Austen, 2007).Her relationship with the men in the novel, Harriet and Knightly, helps her realize. The essence of her relationship with Harriet portrays the lack of moral fiber in her. The authority is with Emma, and she acts according to her desire. However, little does she think of Harriet’s desire?

The affiliation involving Knightley and Emma, conversely is a completely unusual kind of rapport anchored in understanding and supremacy. While Emma prevails over Harriet with merely her wishes and welfare, Knightley is by and large noble in his awareness towards Emma. The distinction in these affairs is accentuated by the comparative realization or self awareness of Emma and Knightley. In connection with the foremost link, Emma is absolutely oblivious that her affiliation with Harriet is expedient. On the other hand, Knightley is all the time vigilant for self-seeking incentives.

Emma’s position in society vastly different from that of Huckleberry Finn, therefore, the course of her growth is in a different context. Emma has “the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.”(Austen, 2007) This remark is significant as it sums up Emma’s character in a major way because it is this trait that leads her to meddle in other people’s lives ending, at times, with painful consequences. It is this trait that induces self awareness within her.

On the other hand, Asher Lev is from an elite Jewish society which has very stern spiritual values and observations. The fervor for art, tears him between his obsession and his sense of duty to his people. Asher puts up with a lot of tumult in his mind. This facilitates his escalation as the protagonist in the work of fiction. “I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflictor of shame upon my family, my friends, my people. This is somewhat true.”(Potok, 2000). This shows Asher’s nagging feeling of guilt that he was the black sheep of the family.

A few of works include Emma, Sense and Sensibility, etc .However; Emma is beyond a doubt her finest work. Furthermore in doing so, she preserves absolute tranquility in her pace that is embellished with hilarity. In, Emma, Austen shows the deception of the so called high class society. The exercise of irony pictures itself in a world of ethical perplexity, in which apparently high class, civilized people dwell.

The most inflexible setting is that of Asher Lev. His penchant for art pushes him into inconsistency. He suffers from complexes because of his parents who anticipate his religious and spiritual participation. “But as a great painter I will cause pain again if I must.”(Potok, 2000). He recurrently looks deranged. “I looked at the old Waterman fountain pen my father had once given me. I now held it in my hand. I had drawn a face with it across an entire printed page of my Chumash. I could not remember just drawing it.” (Potok, 2000).

A wonderful writing of Austen, Emma, unravels her combination of paired characters. The novelist hits the thought of the social status. She does this by amplifying the bizarre approach to the ethnicity that are practiced. Her criticism mainly targets people who structure and represent the unusual class system. This is a main fraction of the sarcasm that evidently comes to light when scrutinized warily. Very satirically and precisely, Austen disapproves of the facets of ethics in terms of grave social distresses.

All of the novels have intensified the feelings of the protagonists paving way to self-awareness. All the novelists, Twain, Austen and Potok, apply an assortment of fictitious skills to go behind their hero. They are subject to the background, portrayal and argument of the protagonist. The intensification of self awareness in Finn, Emma and Asher, is influenced by the setting.

WORKS CITED

AUSTEN, J. (2007) EMMA. NEW YORK: VINTAGE BOOKS.

POTOK, C. (2000) MY NAME IS ASHER LEV. NEW YORK: ANCHOR BOOKS.

TWAIN, M. (2001) ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. LOS ANGELES: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.

PUBLICATION MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION. (5TH EDITION). (2001). WASHINGTON DC: AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION.

LIONEL TRILLING, “THE GREATNESS OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN,” IN HUCKLEBERRY FINN AMONG THE CRITICS, EDITED BY M. THOMAS INGE, UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS OF AMERICA, 1985, PP. 81 – 92.

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