To convey the vapidity of the American Dream, Fitzgerald presents them as the type of people likely to use others and put wealth and superficial qualities above all else. With specific emphasis on descriptive phrases, the corruption of money, and valueless relationships, this essay traces Fitzgerald’s use of characterization to achieve this aim.
Fitzgerald makes excellent use of descriptive phrases and subtle character elements to demonstrate the underlining vapidity of the characters’ existences. Haupt indicates descriptive phrases used to convey this superficial lifestyle. “Bootlegged gin, cigarettes placed into mouths following the clicking shut of their golden cases, gowns, suits, chauffeurs. Games, double meanings, illicit affairs, fortunes made in mysterious ways, drinking to drown an awkward moment or the quiet disappointment of your life” (para. 1). Even from the novel’s beginning epitaph, the reader understands that money and its importance is always on Gatsby’s mind:
That “gold hat” includes Gatsby’s decision to change his name, Jimmy Gatz, to one that will assure him success in life. He doesn’t like his real name as representative of the old Jimmy and believes he must sacrifice truth [his name] in order to create a more positive image, one that exudes success and “self assurance” (Bloom 75). It is a superficial adjustment, since a name is only that and it is what a person does that matters, or should matter to anyone who meets him, whether in business or socially.
The name change, in another sense, represents part of the gold hat he must wear to achieve success and Daisy’s love. The use of the words [gold hat] in the epigraph clearly indicates that someone [Gatsby] is telling himself to use the glitter of material deception in order to win a girl despite advise from Nick later in the story that “You can’t repeat the past” (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 116). “This is precisely what Gatsby