Home » F. Scott Fitzgerald » Why Is Corruption Important In The Great Gatsby Essay

Why Is Corruption Important In The Great Gatsby Essay

You have been taught your entire life to follow your dreams. You have always been told to believe in yourself. There are all these success stories of celebrities and professional athletes following their dream and working hard for it. But what about those who work hard and follow their dreams and fail? What do the celebrities have over the everyday people? Yes, they may have worked harder than some, but the majority works just as hard. Corruption has definitely had an impact on success in the past. Look at someone like Al Capone, the inventor of organized crime in the 1920s.

He most likely achieved all of his dreams. Did he work hard? Probably, but he worked illegally in order to get his money and authority. He smuggled alcohol, which was illegal at the time, and did other illegal business. This was a coldblooded business because it’s every man for themselves. They don’t care about anyone but themselves, and they will do whatever it takes to make their money. This is someone Jay Gatsby, the main character in the American classic The Great Gatsby, would have worked for.

In his novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald displays the corruption of the American dream of the roaring twenties through the multiple tones of Nick Carraway on his developing views towards Jay Gatsby. Throughout the novel, the tone of Nick changes from curious, to indignant, to sympathetic, because his views changed as his knowledge of Gatsby grew. Initially, narrator Nick Carraway uses a curious tone when regarding his new neighbor, the mysterious Jay Gatsby. In the beginning of the book, Nick is invited to one of Gatsby’s famous and lavish parties.

He does not recognize any familiar faces when he gets there until he finds Jordan Baker, whom he will stay with for the rest of the party. Jordan is then greeted by two girls, who tell her what they have heard about this mysterious Gatsby. One of the girls says, “Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once. ‘A thrill passed over all of us. The three Mr. Mumbles bent forward and listened eagerly. ‘I don’t think it’s so much that,’ argued Lucille skeptically; ‘it’s more that he was a German spy during the war'” (Fitzgerald 44).

Nick was invited to this party in an enormous mansion, without knowing what his neighbor even looked like. Gatsby even has a servant deliver the invitation, so Nick becomes very curious and confused with the situation he is in. He and Jordan began looking around the party to try and find Gatsby which shows how curious they actually were. They become even more curious after the two girls and Mr. Mumbles reveal this information. After Nick and Jordan finally meet Gatsby, they get to talking. However, Gatsby is not who Nick thought he was and Nick was still curious to find out more about Gatsby, he says, “Who is he? I demanded. ‘Do you know? ‘ ‘He’s just a man named Gatsby” (Fitzgerald 48). Nick is not satisfied with what he learns about this mysterious Gatsby. This curiosity of Nick in the beginning of the book helps shape the man Gatsby is in the rest of the story. It shows that no one really knows who this man really is and it helps the readers understand his background later on in the book. All the things Nick hears about Gatsby are bad and corrupt. This proves the corruption of the dream because Nick’s curiosity leads him to find out corrupt things Gatsby could be doing.

Therefore, Nick’s curiosity of Gatsby, in the beginning, will contribute to the story of Gatsby’s corrupt past which will be revealed later on in the book. Once Nick Carraway gets to know Gatsby, he becomes indignant or annoyed with him. Towards the middle of book Gatsby and Nick plan to go to lunch with Mr. Wolfsheim. Before this Gatsby asks a favor of Nick, which is to discuss a certain matter with Jordan Baker at tea that night. Nick narrates, “I hadn’t the faintest idea what this ‘matter’ was, but I was more annoyed than interested. I hadn’t asked Jordan to tea in order to iscuss Mr. Jay Gatsby” (Fitzgerald 67). Nick began to feel that Gatsby was using him. Gatsby all of a sudden invites him to this big party and shortly after asks for a favor? Seems like the only reason Gatsby invited him was to get him to do this favor for him. When Nick and Jordan go to tea, Nick learns why Gatsby bought that particular house and his love for Daisy Buchanan. Jordan then informs Nick on what Gatsby wants from him, “He wants to know,’ continued Jordan, ‘if you’ll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over”” (Fitzgerald 78).

Nick then realized that this was all planned out. Gatsby invites Nick to his party, knowing he is the cousin of Daisy, in an attempt to get Nick to invite both Daisy and himself to Nick’s house, so he could win Daisy back. Once the day finally comes for the tea party, Gatsby becomes very nervous and believes that it was a mistake. Then, he and Daisy really hit it off, this is when Nick narrates, “They had forgotten me, but Daisy glanced up and held out her hand; Gatsby didn’t know me now at all” (Fitzgerald 96). This makes Nick feel more indignant than he was before.

He had just done Gatsby a favor, so in return Gatsby ignores him and pretends he is not even there because he is so caught up with Daisy. This tone shows the readers just how obsessed Gatsby is with Daisy. Gatsby uses Nick for something that will benefit himself. The idea of using someone to gain another is basically what corruption means. Therefore, this is another way Gatsby uses corruption to achieve his dream. Gatsby is willing to use Nick to get to his dream, and this is shown through an indignant tone. A sympathetic tone is then used once Gatsby is killed.

After Wilson goes to Gatsby’s mansion to avenge his wife’s death by shooting Gatsby and himself, Nick is left with the responsibility of planning the funeral. When it comes time for his funeral, Nick has to invite people to come. As he is trying to convince people to go to the funeral, Klipspringer calls and requests, “What I called up about was a pair of shoes I left there. I wonder if it would be too much trouble to have the butler send them on” (Fitzgerald 169). Gatsby’s “friend” Klipspringer was at Gatsby’s house so often he practically lived there.

When Gatsby died he took off and didn’t care about the funeral at all. He didn’t even ask about the funeral, he just gave a poor excuse for not being able to go, he asks about a pair of shoes he left at Gatsby’s. Nick then attempts to get Mr. Wolfsheim to attend the funeral. He goes to his office and Nick asks, Wolfsheim’s response is, “‘I can’t do it — I can’t get mixed up in it” (Fitzgerald 171). Gatsby’s “boss” does not care that Gatsby has died because it’s all a business, and in that business the only person that these people care about is themselves.

Nick is sympathetic because Gatsby’s corruption caused this. His corruption leads him to have no true friends and people who care about him, except Nick. Only four people end up coming to the funeral, Nick, Mr. Gatz, Owl Eyes, and the minister. Nick can’t convince any of the hundreds of the people at the big parties to come to the funeral either. This creates a sympathetic tone because Gatsby did a lot for all those people that came to all the parties. He feed them, gave them all the liquor they wanted, and provided entertainment. But because everyone only cares about themselves, nobody came.

It is now obvious that they all used him, just like he used Nick. This is all because of the corruption, everyone uses each other for their own personal benefit. Gatsby’s dream to win Daisy means absolutely nothing in the end. He has nothing to show for it but an abandoned mansion. This also causes the narrator to create a sympathetic tone. One of the most important passages is the last one when Nick narrates, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…

And one fine morning-” (Fitzgerald 180). Nick is sympathetic towards Gatsby because he went to great lengths to achieve his dream, but fell short. Nick even refers to Gatsby’s mansion as a failure, because the goal of this house was to impress Daisy so much that she would come back to him. But she didn’t. Gatsby was so obsessed with the idea of Daisy. The idea of marrying a woman of her stature, and being a man of that stature. In the end, Daisy doesn’t even send a flower. Overall, Nick is sympathetic because Gatsby fell into the corruption of the American dream, and had nothing in the end.

Narrator Nick Carraway changes his tone throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, to portray the corruption of the American dream through the life of Jay Gatsby. These changes in tone are due to Carraway’s knowledge of Gatsby. He starts out curious and confused with Gatsby, then to indignant and annoyed, to sympathetic. Everything one does in their life is because of this idea of the American dream. If there is no dream, no one would work hard. As a matter of fact, no one would work at all, what would be the point?

Whether that dream is pitching in the MLB or just making enough money to support a family, you will work your hardest to get there. Jay Gatsby represents us. Daisy and the green light represents our dream. People will do whatever it takes to achieve it, which could include falling into corruption and crime because that’s how bad some want it. Because of this desire to achieve your dreams, No matter what happens with the journey to the American dream, good or bad, we will always continue to pursue it. This American dream drives us to do whatever it takes to achieve, and nothing will change that, not even failure.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.