The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic- a novel complete with characters, setting, and symbolism that all contribute to the theme of the novel. The concept that people deny reality to see only what they wish to see is one that is present in history, current events, and literature, and more specifically, in The Great Gatsby. Characters in The Great Gatsby have a difficult time seeing past their own hopes and dreams and into the truths of what is happening. Daisy Fay ignores reality; in fact, Daisy herself is pictured as unreal.
She flutters and floats about the room, and seems buoyed up [on the couch] as though upon an anchored balloon (12). Daisy cannot admit that her daughter is real- she refers to her as [A] dream… [an] absolute little dream (123). Tom Buchanan is an extremely ignorant man who cannot come to terms with his own stupidity. He tries to prove his intelligence by reading all scientific (17) books that are deep (17) and have long words in them (17). Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, a would-be upper class woman who is destined to stay on the wrong side of the tracks.
She tries to assume a social position by having an affair with Tom, who has extraordinary wealth and a magnificent social standing. She pretends to be of a high class several times; she raise[s] her eyebrows in despair at the stiflessness of the lower orders [and says,] These people! You have to keep after them all the time(36). Her husband George is equally delusional as he tries to ignore his wifes affair. Because he lives in the valley of ashes, he is covered in and taken over by the ashes. He fades into the valley, into nothingness, and out of reality.
Mr. Henry Gatz, father of Jay Gatsby, emerges at Gatsbys funeral, unable to accept the fact that his young Jimmy has transformed into Jay Gatsby. He holds onto a photograph of the house, cracked in the corners and dirty with many hands (180), a memory of how life was, and how Gatz still perceives it to be. The photograph is more real to him than the house itself (180). Jay Gatsby, in turn, is also living in a dream. He is determined to win Daisys love, and his entire life is wrapped around the single hope that she will yearn for him as well.
His entire life is just a stage set up to convince Daisy of his love for her. Even after Daisy declares her love for Tom, Gatsby still watches over her, waiting, watching over nothing (153). He cannot accept that his fantasy is over, that Daisy loves another man. Nick Carraway is one character with insight into the truth. He sees the complete picture of Gatsby: his past and his current life, whereas Mr. Gatz sees only his past and Meyer Wolfsheim sees only Gatsbys new, corrupted ways. Nick sees the truth about Jordan Bakers constant lying, while others see her as an honest woman.
Owl-Eyes is another character with insight. He notices Gatsbys real self as he looks around the library in Gatsbys home. He realizes that the parties, along with Gatsbys life, are just a stage on which Gatsby can perform. He exclaims, It fooled me. This fellas a regular Belasco . Its a triumph (50). The idea that most people are in denial of reality is one that can be related to past and current events. The Titanic was a magnificent ship that set sail in April of 1912. It was an enormous ship, capable of holding thousands of passengers.
But the designers made one small error: they did not put enough lifeboats on the Titanic to save all of its travelers. The designers, builders, and captains of the ship all agreed that, because Titanic was the largest, most magnificent ship ever built, it was simply indestructible. They were proven wrong as Titanic hit an iceberg and proceeded to sink to the bottom of the ocean, making theirs one of the largest mistakes ever made in history. Politicians can be great liars and can live deluded lives, but eventually it will catch up to them.
In the 1800s, the North and South of the United States were arguing over Missouris admission to the Union: should it be admitted as a slave state or a free state? Henry Clay came up with a compromise that allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine to enter as a free state, pleasing both the North and South. Only Thomas Jefferson saw the problem with this compromise: it merely prolonged the fight by momentarily calming a dispute. The rest of Congress decided to ignore the soon-to-be tremendous problem.
Most recently, President Clinton was accused of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern at the White House. When questioned, Hillary Clinton denied the accusations, saying her husband would never cheat on her. But months later, Hillary was proven wrong as Bill admitted to the affair in front of a jury. Instead of accepting what was the truth, Hillary ignored and denied the reality of the situation. The idea that people deny the reality in their lives is a theme present in history, current events, and literature. This theme is used in The Great Gatsby, giving it a timeless quality, and making it a classic.