The subliminal collapse of self-morals is evident in The Great Gatsby through several of its characters and is mirrored in the east coast society of the twenties. The characters in The Great Gatsby though spoiled with riches, do not stray far from their self-serving goals to do anything other that to look out for their own self-interests. It seems as if no character in the book, besides Nick, ever give thought to the results of their actions beyond their own initial perceptions of the situation.
All discernible characters in this book project a true form of cultural ignorance that prevents them from progressing through their lives constructively. Society, as portrayed in The Great Gatsby, seeming to drift around in a vast ocean of deceitful personalities and social dilemmas ultimately leading to an inevitable collapse of this artificially propped up society. The Great Gatsby shows a great deal of cultural selfishness and subliminal social ignorance. The characters in the book do not really care for much beyond themselves and their immediate needs.
Even Gatsby, a man who seemingly did everything for one cause, did not consider the other possibilities of Daisy’s romantic situation or her emotional state of being. He was too focused on the nothingness that created him and projecting this image of searching and waiting all these years. Gatsby is even unsatisfied with Daisy when he finally meets her again due to her past love with Tom. “Oh, you want too much! ’ she cried to Gatsby. ‘I love you now – isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past. ’ She began to sob helplessly. ‘I did love him once – but I loved you too. This shows very presently that Gatsby is disregarding Daisy’s current situation and romantic situation, selfishly dwelling on her past, showing his subliminal social ignorance. Daisy and Jordan show their cultural selfishness and subliminal social ignorance throughout the book, and Fitzgerald symbolizes it through vivid imagery in peculiar situations. “Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fans. ‘We can’t move,’ they said together. ” (115).
This quote symbolizes Daisy and Jordan’s upper class wealth that they have to prop up for everyone to see and recognize. It shows their subliminal social ignorance, as they appear saddened by their contentment when all of their actions cause drastic reproductions. This is a very present theme in the book. No one is fully content with their high life that just leads them to digging themselves deeper and leave an increasingly large wake of destruction behind them. As any addiction goes, more seems to be the answer, but it rarely is.
Though Nick shows no apparent signs of selfishness or social ignorance, he does show intrigue or temptation in these areas. Though knowing of the selfishness and ignorance infecting Jordan, Nick is still tempted by her. “At first I was flattered to go places with her, because she was a golf champion, and everyone knew her name. Then it was something more. I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity. ” (57). At first he just likes the feeling of status when he is with her, and then he becomes more interested in why.
Throughout the book he gradually piece by piece realizes the falsities and fakeness in this upper class east coast society, ultimately leading to his departure back to his true self in Minnesota, where everything is true. Many characters in the book shows their deceitful personalities throughout The Great Gatsby and doing so ultimately push everyone close to them away. They project themselves to be completely different than they actually are, attempting to fit into the lifestyle that they intend to live.
It is almost a requirement to make themselves seem a way that they are not as to be accepted in the shallow society of the twenties. Daisy especially shows this trait in her over elaborate phrasing of statements. She displays herself with these big, extravagant sentences that make her out to be delicate, privileged and important, as was any popular feminine figure at the time. She says, “I love seeing you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a––of a rose, an absolute rose. Doesn’t he? ’ She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation: ‘An absolute rose? (14). The way she unrolls this dramatic statement only describes her even more as an artificial royal acceptance seeking person. She seems pleasant in a very unpleasant and unnatural way. Another form of deceitful social behavior is seen in the way Gatsby is portrayed as a constantly morphing character throughout the book. You never quite know the whole truth behind Gatsby making him a mysterious figure. Fitzgerald did this to give Gatsby a deceitful untrustworthiness, so the reader never really had a defined ideal of what to think of him.
Characters in the Great Gatsby have a level of carelessness that remains the same throughout the book. Throughout the book the carelessness has consequences that add increasingly upon one another, ultimately leading to the collapse of this group of people, or small society. This group of people Fitzgerald uses as the focal point of this story can be compared the society as a whole. Easily seen through temptation of riches, views of the poor through the eyes of the rich, the deceitful projections put forth to mislead and falsely enliven someone’s image, and the Cultural ignorance throughout society.
It is a hard assumption to make about the time period; that the people of the roaring twenties gave no thought to topics and situations much more than the bare minimum. However, it is evident that this is the way they did act. This really means that the common adult living in the society was advertised as being dumb. This is not to lessen the level of their intelligence, but lessen the idea of intelligence that they portrayed. This population held in a lot of their morals to fit into the popular carelessness that was sweeping mature individuals.
The way that Nick talks about his hatred for these type of people suggests that it is a common persona. This society seems so familiar, in a sense that all people even today put on non-physical masks to advertise a false persona that they truly are not; it is different than that of today. In the twenties, and as shown in The Great Gatsby the false advertisements of ones self are more pronounced, but go seemingly unnoticed. The society described in The Great Gatsby seemed to exist in a dreamy state––more so than others near the same time. Social groups seemed to float around carelessly throughout their day.
Though their level of carelessness and excessive intake of alcohol allowed for a new type of stress to bread in their minds. “I like to come,’ Lucille said. ‘I never care what I do, so I always have a good time. When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair and he asked my name and address––inside of a week I got a package from the Croirier’s with a new evening gown in it. ’ ‘Did you keep it? ’ Jordan asked. ‘Sure I did. I was going to wear it tonight, but it was too small in the bust and had to be altered. It was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars. (43). This quote is an example of a typical conversation occurring at a Gatsby party. A girl named Lucille is talking down every bit of words that come from her mouth. A girl like her––and a majority of people at the time––cannot leave something as it is. There has to be an added discontent or contentment to the situation to make it better or worse. Nothing seems to be said in its true form. Even in a modern society, this careless and lightweight form of existence is still very present. In actuality, the common member of the human race tends to veer off into this side of things.
This is one of the reasons that this idea of subliminal collapsing of self-morals in the Great Gatsby is still relevant to the modern mind. People living in this society still tend to analyze people in a similarly pessimistic way that Nick does. He sees all of this through his own lens, which fits the mind for analytical thoughts regarding the time period. The society shown in the Great Gatsby was never true to themselves and each other. They floated around in a vast ocean of fraudulent peers and fed off of their excessively fictional personal projections. An ongoing pattern, it is. Never ending, it seems.