Loneliness in the Great Gatsby
Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the unfortunate reality of loneliness consumes the lives of the majority of the characters. The time period portrayed in this novel, the 1920’s, had brought about several changes for people. It was highly common for large groups of people to join together for parties with endless drinking, dancing and celebrating. However, when the night was over and the festivities finished, most people were forced right back into their regular everyday lives feeling all alone.
The wealthy class in society would continue living each and every day miserably lonely as long as they still maintained their materialistic lifestyle. Fitzgerald uses the characters in this book to demonstrate the constant loom of loneliness in the air and the hollowness, purposeless lives of the idle rich during the 1920’s. Jay Gatsby is constantly surrounded by thousands of people, yet his is one of the loneliest characters in this story.
Loneliness in the Great Gatsby Essay Example
The audience is aware of Gatsby’s loneliness when they are first introduced to him in the beginning of the story. When he was younger and had returned from war, he was faced with the heart wrenching reality that his lover, Daisy, had left him. He then spends the rest of his life obsessing over earning Daisy again, spending many nights alone staring at the lone green light on the end of her dock.
Gatsby is not accepted due to the fact he is among the “new rich” group in society so he does not fit in with those of East Egg and he is also highly mysterious; most people are unsure of his background and the source of his wealth. Gatsby has unlimited possessions, yet no one to share them with. Therefore, with his incredible wealth, Gatsby hosts these plentiful, posh parties at his monstrous mansion. Thousands of people show up, most total strangers to Gatsby, and stay into the wee hours of the morning, drunkenly living their lives away without the slightest care in the world.
Gatsby uses his elaborate parties to build up his image among people and gain respect for himself, yet even amongst the thousands of guests at his own home, he spends his night “standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes”(50). Even in the midst of everyone having fun and celebrating, Gatsby is not joining the crowd and having a good time, instead he is left all alone, like always. He uses these huge celebrations to try to deal with his loneliness, yet at the end of the night when the party comes to a close, Gatsby is right back to where he started.
Once the dancing and celebrating is over and the party goers leave, Nick described the scene of Gatsby’s house by stating “a sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host, who stood on the porch, his hand held up in a formal gesture of farewell” 55. This idea represents Gatsby’s life; always left by himself in the end. He devotes his entire existence to earn Daisy back, yet he is never able to do so. Although Daisy and Gatsby have an affair with each other, Daisy always returns to Tom and Gatsby’s dream eventually dies out.
During the closing of this story after Gatsby has died, Fitzgerald secures the idea of loneliness in Gatsby’s life when no one comes to his funeral. Nick has the minister waiting an extra half hour for people to arrive, but eventually Nick even realized “it wasn’t any use. Nobody came” (174). All the thousands of guests at his house for his parties and his several business partners, nobody had the decency to pay their last respects to Gatsby, for these people only cared for Gatsby’s wealth and possessions. Nick Carraway is always the observer, the messenger, the middle man.
The people in his life count on him for favors and advice and judgment. He has nothing to live for, and no one to share his life with. The only person Nick spends considerable amounts of time with is Gatsby, who in turn uses him to become closer with Daisy. When Nick first arrived at one of the parties at Gatsby’s own house, he “slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table-the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone”(42) when in fact purposeless and alone in the exact description of Nick’s life.
He is highly ignorant with being single and alone but eventually attaches himself to Jordan Baker because he is simply dying for some kind of attention from anyone. His desperateness is obvious when he chooses to spend his time with Jordan, who is highly self-centered and untruthful. Towards the end of the story, Nick nearly forgot it was his thirtieth birthday, yet this was not anything to look forward to for thirty was simply “the promise of a decade of loneliness” (135). Fitzgerald uses this unmemorable birthday to further display the loneliness in Nick’s life.
Throughout the book, Nick is all alone, whether he is with Tom and Myrtle, Daisy and Gatsby or at a party surrounded by thousands of guests. During the 1920’s, divorce was looked down upon, and therefore affairs outside ones marriage were unfortunately popular. While Tom is having an affair with Myrtle, George and Daisy are both left with similar feeling of loneliness. However, George and Daisy are in different social classes and Fitzgerald uses different symbols to portray their emptiness.
For Daisy, she is well aware of her husband’s infidelity within their marriage yet she does not have the strength to leave even though the humiliation of everyone knowing their situation is extremely lonely in itself. Daisy is highly materialistic; her famous voice even described as being “full of money” (120). She craved attention and possessions to cover up her loneliness. She eventually has an affair herself with Gatsby yet this relationship is no longer the same for her and she ends up stuck with Tom again in the end.
The life of George Wilson is juxtaposed with that of Daisy’s. Wilson owns a body shop where he slaves away fixing cars to earn his living. He lives in the valley of ashes, a highly run down section of town where all the dust and debris from throughout the city is collected. When Tom goes to visit the Wilsons, Nick notices the way George “went toward the little office mingling immediately with the cement color of the walls. A white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity- except his wife who moved closer to Tom” (26).
The plain, simple colors associated with Wilson represented the way he just seemed to blend in with his surroundings, his loneliness and his lifestyle in the working class. His wife having an affair with Tom created a gap between George and Myrtle in their marriage, ultimately causing George to oftentimes be left alone in the doom and gloom of the valley of ashes, adding to his depression and isolation. Once Myrtle is killed by Daisy, everyone involved carries the sorrow experienced from this accident with them from this point on.
Daisy will always be haunted by a deep guilt for secretly being the true murderer of Myrtle. Tom and George will experience increased loneliness dues to the relationship they both had with Myrtle. The marital affairs displayed throughout Fitzgerald’s story prove that infidelity within relationships ultimately leave the people involved more alone than ever in the end. Fitzgerald uses the characters in The Great Gatsby to demonstrate the loneliness experienced by all living in the 1920’s.
He portrays the idea of the idle rich, upper class; although one is rich with possessions, he very well may be poor with those who actually care about him without him possessions. He proves money brings out the undesirable traits in the human population. By the end of this story, Fitzgerald had proved money does not buy you happiness; instead it brings about greed, pride, arrogance, materialism and inevitably, loneliness. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. Print.