The Great Gatsby is a novel depicting the American dream. This story portrays the hardships a single man must endure to achieve the ultimate goal. However, deception is a theme present throughout the novel, much like most stories ever written. This dream cannot be achieved due to the shadow of deceit. Most characters in the novel experience this, and most of it roots with Gatsby. Deception is most predominant in The Great Gatsby through Gatsby’s deception of Daisy, and himself.
Daisy is deceived by Gatsby’s image of having already achieved the American dream. “Gatsby comes across as a successful businessman to Daisy, and this is Gatsby’s intentions” (Unger 93). He throws the riverside parties to influence Daisy to come by, and in time she does. Through these parties, Gatsby does not socialize. “This is a way Fitzgerald lets us know that Gatsby is not being true to anyone. His inability to socialize foreshadows that he is not focused on the party at all. It is merely a show to attract Daisy” (Magill 688). Finally, Nick arranges Gatsby and Daisy to be reunited. They meet each other once again, and Gatsby reveals he is now wealthier. By conversation, it is revealed that everyone in the novel is now materialistic, with the exception of Nick. Gatsby now sees Daisy as a different person, however he has successfully deceived her. She now believes him to be the wealthy powerful man he has aspired to be. Once again, Gatsby attempts to deceive Daisy by telling her to inform Tom she never loved him. “Gatsby cleverly forces these words upon Daisy and she repeats them as her own” (Unger 93). The relationship between Gatsby and Daisy is built entirely upon his intentional deceit.
While Gatsby deceives most characters in the book, he deceives himself most of all. After returning from war, Gatsby perceives everything the same as he left it. This includes Daisy. “He looks upon her as the same lady he left. This proves to be his own downfall” (Unger 92). He refuses to change his view of Daisy because that would alter the image of who he once loved. “Gatsby seems unable to cope with this reality” (Unger 92). When Gatsby involves himself with Mr. Wolfsheim, he deceives himself about the origin of the American dream. He views it as success achieved by any means, however it is acquired only by “hard work and determination” (Magill 688). He overlooks this minor setback and achieves materialistic success by illegal means. Gatsby later asks Daisy to tell Tom she never loved him. This portrays Jay’s need for her to act the same as he remembers her.
Deception can be traced to many literary works. However, it has never been represented better in American literature than in The Great Gatsby. The widespread interactions of Gatsby involve all characters, excluding the narrator, in his cloud of deceit.
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