Looking back at Fitzgerald’s cautionary satire of ‘The Great Gatsby’

Behind the sumptuous splendour of the Jazz Age comes an honest tale of revenge, the excesses of the rich, and a materialistic desire for the so-called American Dream, wrapped in a rich delicacy of prose love-warfare. 

One might say to achieve the American Dream, a nightmare has to fuse with reality. And certainly Fitzgerald paints a grim downside to all that are forgotten on the road of recklessness and self-authenticity to social superiority, white supremacy and dishonesty. Fitzgerald is holding a heavily embellished mirror, full of beautiful subtleties of writing, and a pounding rhythm of jazz, dance and alcohol toward the death of Gatsby upon a society plagued by post-Prohibition excess and self-trickery in the young, mysterious apparition of Jay Gatsby, each character totemic of a factor Fitzgerald is scathing of.

Even the road from New York to the nouveau riche of the utopic and prosperous, yet shallow, self-absorbed, deplorable and proclaimed as dystopic by Fitzgerald West Egg, an ironic play on the River Styx, is a soft march to death and a warning to all who pursue this ideal of greed, which leaves a trail of suffering, misery and oppression.

This was Fitzgerald’s sardonic view of upper class America – it was written as a warning, and it should be treated as such. It leaves a profound reverberation even today in our self-centered communal callousness in the death of the ‘self’.

 

 

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