The Great Gatsby is a story written by Scott Fitzgerald. It is a story about a twisted love affair among the main characters, daisy and Gatsby. The author through his characters shows how striving for wealth defined individuals’ dreams. Moreover, the story revolves around a pursuit of happiness for the protagonist Gatsby who never wanted to let his past go, but was pursuing it through wealth and material things. This entire story represents characters who fail to learn from their past experiences and mistakes. The characters in this book are static, starting with Jay Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, and Nick. In the Great Gatsby, the characters do not change their morals or their personalities, however, a few who changes is because of the situations they are forced to go through. The Great Gatsby is not moral because the characters are static (Ernest 45). The characters in this story act without looking at the moral side of their actions. All the characters in the Great Gatsby are immoral since none engages in notable positive actions or behaviors.
Throughout the novel, the characters do not change their ways because they fail to see past what they possess; that is wealth. In addition, they fail to learn from a number of mistakes they have committed in their lives and everything that surrounds them. Daisy was responsible for Myrtle Wilson’s death, she is seen having an emotional reaction, but she remains the same with no change about her actions. Even though Myrtle had an affair with her husband, she should feel remorse of what she has done and even pay for the crime committed. This shows that the character is not moral because, if a person kills another person, he/she will be affected emotionally and would want to change and become a better person (Gross and MaryJean 98). However, for the case of Daisy, she does not show any serious emotional reactions after she ran off Myrtle. Morally, people learn from their mistakes and make sure that they do not commit the same mistakes gain, but in the Great Gatsby, the characters including Daisy do not change, learn from, or regret making their mistakes. Daisy murders someone, but she moves on with her life as if nothing serious or rather a crime has been committed. In addition, the rest of the characters know about it but still, they cover up for her.
Gatsby the protagonist in the story is caught up in his past, but he attempts to recreate it by erasing his past experiences through wealth and manipulation. Gatsby loved Daisy, and he refused to come to terms that their relationship was already over. In trying to erase the past, he moves closer to her when he moved to East Egg. To make it worse, he even lies to himself that, because he is wealthy, he will be able to buy Daisy back with the money he has. Fitzgerald writes, he “paid a high price for living too long with a single dream” (Fitzgerald 167), but ultimately, he could not have Daisy. Gatsby should have learnt from the past, and that times have changed, and also his past could not be recreated because, want he shared with Daisy was already over. Daisy was already with her husband, and instead of Gatsby accepting the reality and moving from his past, he thought that by acquiring wealth, he would be able to get Daisy away from her husband.
On the other hand, Tom is also another character who acts immorally in the story. The first instance is when he encourages Mr. Wilson to kill Gatsby for wanting to take away his wife. After doing that, he runs back to Gatsby and Daisy as if he had done nothing. In addition, he is married to Daisy but he goes on having an affair with Myrtle and condemns Daisy for her passion for Gatsby. Tom cheats on Daisy mercilessly with not only one mistress and if he is not cheating, he is doing something malicious, which makes him immoral in the story. He does things with no reason at all; he does them because he feels like doing them. Tom was an immoral man who never felt remorse of his adultery.
Nick is another character who encourages immorality in the story. He is seen with Tom while he was cheating on Daisy but takes no action about it. Moreover, instead of trying to correct a wrong, he commits another wrong by inviting Daisy over tea with Gatsby, yet he knows very well that Daisy is Tom’s wife. He seems to enjoy the adultery being committed here, and this makes him morally wrong. Nick does absolutely nothing to prevent the wrong behaviors of the rest of the characters and to some extent, he even encourages them when he invites Daisy for tea with Gatsby, yet he knows that she is married. Nick can be considered immoral for not stopping unethical behaviors among the characters, yet he had the chance to do so. On the other hand, Nick can be considered moral among the characters because, his moral character rises above that of the rest of the characters. He is depicted as hardworking and Gatsby challenged his morality when he offered him a position in his illegal business, and he declined. Nick is a character who at times put his moral values over money.
Gatsby, Tom, and Daisy failed to learn from their past. They all thought that with the wealth they had acquired, they could move on from their past, but it was still there haunting them. Caught up in their wealth, the characters felt that there was no need to change, because they have all the money they need. In addition to their wealth, the characters also thought that, they had good looks and this could give them all they wanted in life and superiority. According to Hermanson, they felt mighty and superior and he further notes that, “they were careless people,” and always said, “They let other people clean up their messes” because of the wealth they had acquired. (Fitzgerald 188). This shows how immoral the characters were; they only valued money and cared less about other people and their actions. To make it worse, Daisy and Tom felt that their actions were morally correct and there was no reason to change, because of their financial status. Tom believed that it was his right to do anything he wishes, even if it means cheating on his wife with more than one mistress. Gatsby’s entire life was false from childhood until his death.
Fitzgerald uses his characters to explore the theme of decay of values and morals in the American modern society. Through the life of Gatsby, the reader is able to learn about how immoral the and the other characters were. The characters thirsted for money and materialism specifically Gatsby and never valued the morality behind his actions. Gatsby held parties weekly with the money he earned through illegal activities without caring of anything, to him, only wealth mattered. Fitzgerald writes, "In his blue garden people came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne" (Ronald 102). At times Gatsby would remain indoors as the guests partied outside without caring if they were invited or not, he only cared about wealth and class. He got the money illegally and this makes him immoral.
In conclusion, the Great Gatsby cannot be considered moral. First, this is because, moral people learn from their mistake and never commit them again. Secondly, they are affected by the mistakes they do and they will always try to do the right thing a d change and become better people. This cannot be seen in the Great Gatsby as the characters not only fail to learn from their mistakes, but also fail to live in the present and behave as if nothing wrong happened. This can be illustrated when Fitzgerald says, “So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight” (Fitzgerald 143). Meaning they went ahead with their journey, despite the death that had been caused on the way. Daisy, Tom and Gatsby found no reason for change in the Great Gatsby using their wealth as an excuse. Gatsby could not live in the present because his past haunted him and this led to his death. Similarly, Daisy refused to accept the reality that it was wrong she hit Myrtle, killed her, and learn from her mistakes. This prevented her from learning from her mistakes because; she failed to accept the reality. Therefore, nothing good came out of the characters in the Great Gatsby because, they were unable to undergo change and do what is morally right. Neither the Great Gatsby as a book nor Gatsby the character, are moral.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby. Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.
Gross, Dalton, and MaryJean Gross. Understanding The Great Gatsby: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.
Donaldson, Scott, ed., Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984. Print.
Ernest H. Lockridge, ed., Twentieth century interpretations of The Great Gatsby: A Collection of Critical Essays. N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Print.
Ronald, Berman. The Great Gatsby and Modern Times. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Print.
Hermanson, Casie E. "An overview of The Great Gatsby." (1998): 1. Literature Resource Center.
Web. 14 Apr 2014.