In the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald Conveys the Lack of Morality of Many of the Characters Through Their All-Consuming Focus

Topics: Moral

American society is focused on being the best version of themselves as they keep themselves to a moral standard of what is good or not. However, for the character of The Great Gatsby seems to lose this moral standard as they have little to no morality. Throughout The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald conveys many characters’ lack of morality due to their consuming focus on obtaining wealth and/or status, which is seen through symbolism, use of the word God, and character development.

Every person in this novel desires something; they desire these things so much that it causes them to do absolutely anything to gain it because they believe it will make them truly happy. Jay Gatsby, a man who has come from almost nothing, has a massive house that is home to not only him but the extravagant parties he is known to throw. Although his climb up the social ladder is something to be admired, his success is nothing short of shady.

To gain this fortune, Gatsby begin the illegal selling of liquor during the time of prohibition in the United States.

This gave him all the money he attained in such a short amount of time and shows his immoral thinking that the ending outcome justifies the means. His yearning for money and wealth has blinded him from the immoral actions and intentions of his work. Next is the power-hungry dominate Tom Buchanan. Tom, a man born into wealth and one who needs to feel like he is the biggest and the best in the room.

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He is always trying to one up everyone and is very dominant of the women in his life Daisy and Myrtle, “‘… Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing… whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name ‘Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!’shouted Mrs, Wilson. ‘I’ll say it whenever I want to!…’ making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his hand” at this moment Tom lost control of the situation something he is not fond of and the only way for him to gain the dominance in the instance back was to slap Myrtle.

Tom had no sympathy for Myrtle and no regard for her well-being as his only focus was to gain power back from her and put her in her place. The valley of ashes is a wasteland where the wealthy not only dump their burnt coals but also the unwanted people who don’t live up to the social standards. This gray land is a symbol in of itself as it represents exactly what the rich are willing to do in order to obtain the status and wealth they spend their life chasing. Without morality and empathy for the world this upper class will destroy every person or object in order to keep the things they value the most. The valley is described as, “… a valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow… grotesque gardens; … with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air… which screens their obscure operations from your sight”. Above this vast wasteland is, ¨… the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg… are blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard long.

They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose¨. These attention-grabbing eyes are a symbol for the eyes of God. As the eyes look over the valley of ashes it watches and judges the world as American society becomes a moral wasteland. All of these symbols show the lack of morality in the characters as they aren’t aware of the destruction they have placed on the world. Religion and God seem to be very absence in the lives of the wealthy. Although mentioned in the novel quite often it is only used in order to exaggerate the point the characters are try to get across, as the use the phrases, “My God”, “God!”, and “God damned lie”. The use of this word is never given the context of a concrete noun, it is more use as an assertive adjective. This absence of God gives an absence of a moral standard for good and evil. “ (Jay Gatsby)… Platonic conception of himself.

He was s son of God- a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that- and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast,vulgar, and meretricious beauty”, even though God in this quote is seen as a true being it soon circles right back around to the concept of obtaining as much money as possible. It shows the characters believe in what God perceives as right, in that they must gain money anyway they can in order to complete their parents destiny and the “beauty” of it all. As gaining their true desire consume the lives of the characters the actions to do so over trump the morality in how they do so. Gatsby justifies his actions by only focusing on the outcome rather than the people he hurts in the process and the path of destruction he leaves behind him. While Tom is only focused on the power he must protect, he must be in control in order to feel satisfied and complete. The moral standard of what is acceptable in order to be a good person seems to be lost in translation. The wants of the wealthy will always trump the needs and well being of the common man and the world around them.

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In the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald Conveys the Lack of Morality of Many of the Characters Through Their All-Consuming Focus. (2023, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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