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The Great Gatsby: Moral Corruption

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The Great Gatsby: Moral Corruption

Society tends to have a myriad of unspoken problems that plague its entirety as a whole. With numerous underlying issues that slowly fester from the center of the core to the outside, society constantly attempts to suppress and ignore the genuine problem. One of the ever present obstacles that seemingly will go unattended to is moral decay. Though many people may recognize the issue at hand, it’s become a pattern to let it be as it is, as opposed to fixing it from within. Throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the decaying of social and moral values through his use of symbolism and characterization.

During the totality of novel, symbolism is used as a vehicle of depravity. Fitzgerald illustrates the decaying ethics and morals upheld by those of the era with a wide variety of unexpected figures. In Chapter 2, Fitzgerald brings Nick and Tom to New York so that Nick can meet Tom’s “girl”. While in New York the three go to Tom’s apartment he’s bought specifically for his affair. “At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses” (Fitzgerald, 32). The use of the word вЂ?cake’ places a different emphasis on the apartment and makes the reader analyze it in the form of food. Generally, because a cake has an attractive appearance from the outside with the frosting and decorations, the inside of it is completely different. The apartment building in New York holds up to that symbolism of the literal cake in the sense that from the outside it has a white color, which means morally unblemished, though on inside, it’s overly furnished “so that to move about was to stumble continuallyвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ(Fitzgerald, 33). It becomes apparent with the apartment that everything is for appearance and it all has become a faÐ"§ade. During Chapter 3, the many people at Gatsby’s party all symbolize the decaying social values that are attempted to be sustained in the summer of 1922. With all of the drunken debauchery amidst the “amusement park” of a party, a set of girls in yellow dresses stand out. “A pair of stage вЂ?twins’- who turned out to be the girls in yellow- did a baby act in costume and champagne was served in bigger than finger bowls” (Fitzgerald, 51). Having the two girls wear yellow in the novel, Fitzgerald places an emphasis on moral corruption they emanate at Gatsby’s party. Their baby act “in costume” also shows the literal veneer that people of the era put over themselves. Whether it is a costume or their material wealth, the characters of the novel in the 1920’s are entirely content with presenting themselves under false pretenses.

The characterization of individual figures in the novel bring to light to rapidly declining moral and social values. Though in the year 1920, the 18th amendment became law and banned alcohol, the characters in The Great Gatsby drank illegally, as well as excessively at most social gatherings. Their over-consumption of alcohol caused far deeper problems beyond their current state of belligerence. In Chapter 3, an accident in Gatsby’s driveway exemplifies the absurdity of their drunkenness. “ вЂ?Well, if you’re a poor driver you oughtn’t to try driving at night.вЂ™Ð²Ð‚¦ вЂ?You don’t understand,’ explained the criminal. вЂ?I wasn’t



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