How are the themes of idealism, wealth and class, and the American dream illustrated in The Great Gatsby, and what techniques are used to achieve this?

Themes of idealism, wealth and class, and the American dream are illustrated in The Great Gatsby by Gatsby's relentless pursuit of the American dream. Literary techniques in the novel include allusion, metaphor, symbolism, comparison, and description. The pearls from Tom, for example, are a symbol for Daisy's sacrifice of love for wealth and class. Idealism is seen in Gatsby’s belief that he can win Daisy, the girl of his dreams.

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The themes of idealism, wealth and class, and the American dream underlie everything that the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, does. Fitzgerald uses literary devices such as allusion, metaphor, and comparison to show these themes and their impact on most of the characters in the story.

Daisy and Tom Buchanan embody the themes of wealth and class. They each come from families that have money, although Tom has more than Daisy originally. We know that Tom comes from a wealthy background because of the ease with which he handles and purchases luxurious and often unnecessary items. He rents an extra apartment for Myrtle, and this so enchants her that she scorns her husband, who has real feelings for her compared to Tom's largely amorous desires.

Tom is comfortable with money because he has had it his entire life. Fitzgerald drops clear clues to his financial wealth throughout the text in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. For instance, Tom married Daisy

with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Thus, Fitzgerald does not say outright that Daisy and Tom were each from extremely comfortable backgrounds. He makes use of indirect description to inform the reader, by referring to the “pomp and circumstance” around their wedding, the fact that there were “four private cars” to transport Tom’s guests and that he “hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel.” We might not be familiar with the Seelbach Hotel, but we understand the significance of Tom’s taking over the entire floor. Perhaps most important is the string of pearls, because we see how Daisy exchanges true love for the luxury of wealth that surpasses the financial items that her extremely comfortable family can supply. The pearls can be seen as a metaphor for the trade she makes.

Other techniques Fitzgerald uses are to describe the material objects that Gatsby has, including his hydroplane and car. Gatsby needs these symbols of wealth to make a statement about who he is (or who he wants people to believe he is) and how much he has. He has aspired to—and in his mind, has attained—the American dream. The irony is that, of all these characters, Gatsby (after Nick) probably reflects idealism more than the others. Despite all that he has lived through, including leaving his family, the war, and getting involved with gangsters to achieve great wealth, he is less jaded than the others and continues to believe that he can have it all, including the girl of his dreams.

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