Hedonism and The Great Gatsby
Hedonism means to live only for pleasure. It means not thinking about the
consequences of your actions as long as make you happy. It s a total abandon of all responsibilities. This type of lifestyle often has negative results. I mean, look at the hippies, and how their hedonistic society turned out. They are all either in rehab centers or have kids running around with names like Moonbeam and Starchild . But enough hippie bashing - let s look at how the Hedonistic way of life is integrated into The Great Gatsby.
Let s take the parties for example. Gatsby has a party just about every week, no matter what. He has tons of people come over, and they party all night. Gatsby has tons of booze at his parties, and no one thinks of consuming anything but alcohol. Everybody is getting drunk everywhere. And Gatsby gives no thought to cost- at one party he has an entire orchestra playing
for his guests. People come to the party who aren t invited, yet Gatsby makes no effort to get rid of them (he lets them stay, maybe hoping that they ll help to let everyone at the party have a better time.)
Another example of hedonism is the house that Gatsby lives in. He lives there alone, yet it s a huge mansion! He has maids and a butler, but HE LIVES THERE ALONE! True, he moved there to be close to Daisy, but wouldn t that be considered an act of hedonism in itself? Moving to a MANSION to get the pleasure of being close to Daisy. I would consider that pretty hedonistic. Gatsby has a huge library for the visual effect it gives, yet no one in an entire lifetime could read all of those books. He also has music rooms in his house. I never read anything at all in this book to suggest that Gatsby was musically inclined. Also, Gatsby s wardrobe has to be the biggest that I have ever heard of. The pile of clothes is described as being a heap . That, to me, means a lot of shirts. At one point in the novel, Nick says that he
was about to ask to see the rubies. Now, I don t know if he was serious or not, but , just for the sake of argument, let s say he was being serious. Why, exactly, does Gatsby have rubies in his house? Gatsby has two motorboats. Why does one person need two motorboats? He also has a hydroplane, which he apparently flies just for the pleasure that it brings him. The hydroplane
could only be used for pleasure. If he needs to go to the grocery store, for example, I m pretty sure that he s not going to fly his plane over and land in the handy water strip conveniently located right outside!
Also, the extravagant use of money by all of the upper class people in this book strikes me as being unnecessary. Daisy buys a dog for no reason other than that she thinks it s cute. She doesn t think of what she ll do with it when she gets home, just that she wanted it when she saw it, so she bought it. Gatsby s car is another example of unneeded money being spent on a
luxury- in this case a Rolls Royce. Sure- it s a nice car, but does he really need it?
In the end, Gatsby s lifestyle left him with next to nothing. When he died, only his father, Nick, some servants, the postman, and the man with the owl-eyed glasses came to his funeral. It goes to show you that living only for pleasure is not the best kind of life to lead.