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Word Count: 696
The Great Gatsbys Theme On one level the novel comments on the careless gaiety and moral decadence of the period It contains innumerable references to the contemporary scene The wild extravagances of Gatsbys parties the shallowness and aimlessness of the guests and the hint of Gatsbys involvement in crime all identify the period and the American setting But as a piece of social commentary The Great Gatsby also describes the failure of the American dream from the point of view that American political ideals conflict with the actual social conditions that exist For whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people the truth is that social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot be overcome Myrtles attempt to break into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed to fail Taking advantage of her vivacity her lively nature she seeks to escape from her own class She enters into an affair with Tom and takes on his way of living But she only becomes vulgar and corrupt like the rich She scorns people from her own class and loses all sense of morality And for all her social ambition Myrtle never succeeds in her attempt to find a place for herself in Toms class When it comes to a crisis the rich stand together against all outsiders Myrtles condition of course is a weaker reflection of Gatsbys more significant struggle While Myrtles desire springs from social ambition Gatsbys is related more to his idealism his faith in lifes possibilities Undoubtedly his desire is also influenced by social considerations Daisy who is wealthy and beautiful represents a way of life which is remote from Gatsbys and therefore more attractive because it is out of reach However social consciousness is not a basic cause It merely directs and increases Gatsbys belief in lifes possibilities Like Myrtle Gatsby struggles to fit himself into another social group but
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