Old Money Ways
AP English Language and Composition
10 May 2018
The One That Got Away
The 1920s was period of social, economic, and political growth in America. F. Scott Fitzgerald effectively captures the essence and normalities of the 20s through the lives of his characters in The Great Gatsby. Told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, the audience gets a glimpse into more pleasant times than the temperancemovement, the growth of organized crime and the Klu Klux Klan that all happened during that time period. Through the use of dramatic irony, satire, and metaphor Fitzgerald highlights that the American Dream is unattainable unless assisted by drunkenness, affairs, corruption, and scandal.
Dramatic Irony is used in literary works to fuel the readers excitement as they know something the characters do not. Fitzgerald used specifically, dramatic irony in The Great Gatsby when George Wilson suspected his wife Myrtle of having an affair. The ironic part is the person whom she was having this affair with, his friend Tom Buchanan. In a hit in run accident, Myrtle was suddenly dead. George in return murdered Gatsby after Tom revealed that the car which killed Myrtle belonged to Gatsby. Unfortunately, Tom was covering his own doings up instead of helping Myrtle by revealing that the car belonged to Gatsby. He expressed about him telling George to Nick, “He was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn't told him who owned the car” (Fitzgerald 178). Ironically, George wrongly murdered an innocent man. Another example of dramatic irony in the novel is how Daisy and Gatsby engaged in an affair all for Daisy to end up back with Tom in the end. Daisy exchanged a few more than friendly words with Gatsby at the dinner table, “ She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. His mouth opened a little and he looked at Gatsby, and then back at Daisy as if he had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago” (119). Tom couldn't help but notice the affair. Although, she has love for Gatsby she decides to stay with tom ironically, because Tom has been breeded like her in “old money ways” which Gatsby lacked.
Despite Gatsby not having “old money ways”, he does similarity possess the trait of being materialistic, a satirical poke at 1920s america. Due to the economic boost after World War 1, americans became showily more materialistic. With no exception of Tom and Daisy, the characters in The Great Gatsby had more money than they knew what to do with. Gatsby brought all these items just to impress Daisy, giving more attention to the item that Daisy paid the most attention to. These material things held no real value in Gatsby's heart, only Daisy. We also see at the very end how hardly anyone showed up to Gatsby’s funeral because they were only attracted to his wealth and status but not the man himself. Another use of satire in the novel is the existence of racism amongst wealthy educated men and women in the 20s. In the first chapter, Tom is found to be reading ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’, “Well it's a fine book, and everyone ought to read it. The idea is if we dont look out the white race will be-- will be utterly submerged...It’s been proved” (13). The book includes racial ideas and beliefs which all of the other main characters at the dinner table seem to agree on, such as Daisy and Jordan. This reveals that an educated man like Tom, along with his peers, held immoral beliefs in the 20s.
George and Myrtle's home, the Valley of Ashes, metaphorically represents the industrial lifestyle for those who have been unable to achieve their american dream, yet with their work, enable the wealthy, to continue living their own American dream. Not only the home of George and Myrtle, the valley is also home to several other things including The Eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg, the train tracks and ash. Also, many important yet horrible events happen in the valley. The valley is explained as “ A fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and grotesque garden” (23). People such as George and Myrtle who live in the valley are often looked down on, “A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about… like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees”(110).The people of East and West Egg were literally not fond of the ash that was in the Valley of Ashes. The only person who wasn't covered in that ash was Myrtle Wilson. Since she has Tom, she hoped that he would be her ticket to escape her life in the valley, where she was surrounded by people without ambition to get out.
Fitzgerald uses dramatic irony, satire, and metaphor to convince readers that the American Dream is unattainable. Although Jay Gatsby, had reached an elite status and wealth, he had not reached the goal he truly aspired for, which was to win Daisy's love. The major characters in the story all come from three distinct classes and all are in engaged in romantic relationships. Through the characters and their actions they demonstrate how 1920s Americans loathed in wealth while struggled personally in their relationships, all while trying to keep the facade of being perfect for those watching.