How are the characters in the Great Gatsby unethical with respect to religion/God?I am doing this essay on the Great Gatsby and need examples in the book where we see the unethical behaviour of the...

How are the characters in the Great Gatsby unethical with respect to religion/God?

I am doing this essay on the Great Gatsby and need examples in the book where we see the unethical behaviour of the characters with respect to religion and God.

Also it would be helpful to a few examples of how the characters have forgotten about God and what the look to when in need instead of God.

Asked on by wick94

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kelly211's profile pic

kelly211 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Well this is pretty open…in that, I'm not sure there's evidence of any adherence to religion, or God?  There are many (and overt) hints toward a larger presence watching over the fracas, but no affiliation with any organized religion's "god."  The constant mention of the eyes--the billboard, owl eyes, etc.--is a motif that runs from the cover art, "Celestial Eyes," all throughout: Someone is watching!

So, if you're considering the eyes as a god-figure, consider the activities conducted under them.  Under the watchful eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleberg, Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson conducted an illicit affair. Under those same eyes, Daisy Buchanan killed Myrtle.  Both adultery and murder are--according to Christian dogma at the very least--unforgivable sins, against the basic commandments.  "Owl Eyes" (a name in and of itself significant due to the symbolic aspect of the owl as holding wisdom and insight--godly.  And also, that it is a creature of night--darkness, not godly) of Gatsby's parties, acted as witness to all kinds of debauchery in the means of excess.  Once again, according to Christian dogma, the overlying premise of all of the seven deadly sins is EXCESS.  People went to the parties in order to free themselves and act in excess, and basically, do that which was inappropriate and not approved of in every day life.

As far as where did they turn instead? The most obvious answer is money.  Tom and Daisy were able to do what they did and get away with it because of their money--Nick notes that they even "receded" into it.  Gatsby--in lieu of the faith of a greater power, a god--looked toward money to attain what he wanted.  Myrtle looked toward Tom's money as an escape, as did George--seeking money for the sale of a car in an effort to take Myrtle away and get his marriage back on track.

Outside of money, I would say the self.  None of the characters in this novel turned toward a god, but rather the self.  Primarily, Gatsby.  In the spirit of Ben Franklin, Gatsby sought toward constant "self-improvement" (as evidenced in the copy of Hopalong Cassidy his father produced after his death).  The way towards betterment, Fitzgerald tells us through Gatsby, is though a strict regiment of self-improving strategies.  And Gatsby succeeds...to a point.  There is no mention of a god or of prayer on his itinerary.  But then, there is Hopalong Cassidy...a fictional "hero" who is at once handsome, courageous, and successful...could that be Gatsby's god?

 

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