The Great Gatsby

Decay of American Greatness

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a shining example of the principle that the most powerful messages are not told but rather shown. Although the novel is written in the form of largely impartial narration by Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's criticism of American life and culture during the Roaring Twenties subtly and powerfully permeates the plot. Fitzgerald shows that American society, flushed from victory in the First World War and bombarded with advertisements expounding the wonders of consumer items from cars to refrigerators, has experienced a radical shift in its value system. Through his portrayal of the main characters, Fitzgerald implies that the traditional virtues of thrift, sincere friendship and true love, as described in books like Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack, have been replaced by the vices of reckless spending, shallow friendships and superficial love. Furthermore, Fitzgerald implies that although members of high society in the Roaring Twenties would party all night long, their perversion of the values of frugality, friendship and love help repress and reinforce feelings of loneliness and unhappiness.

By detailing the observations made by Nick Carraway of Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald...

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