What is the relevance of the exploration of idealized love in  The Great Gatsby?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exploration of the idea of idealized love in Fitzgerald's work provides the basis for Gatsby's characterization as well as creating the basis for a social critique of the time period in which Fitzgerald writes.  Gatsby idealizes everything he loves.  He idealizes the world of wealth, being taken in by Cody's life and creating a notion of his own sense of the good where totality and transcendence is evident through material wealth.  Gatsby idealizes the idea of social mobility, a love that he believes can provide emotional happiness and personal satisfaction.  Most notably, he engages in an idealized love of Daisy.  He becomes entranced with the trappings she presents and possesses.  His idealized love of Daisy is driven by the attention she receives, the wealth she represents, and the idea that the ideal of what Gatsby thinks is his physical embodiment of his own self- image is contained in Daisy and his pursuit of her.  Gatsby idealizes his loves, primarily to prevent the serious and sober examination of such values.  There is no reflection or contemplation in Gatsby.  Idealized love has replaced the need to think and ponder about the choices he makes and the values to which he internalizes.  In this, Fitzgerald is making a distinct statement about the nature of idealized love, demonstrating that such an idea loses sight of reality and what individuals must cling to in order to find some semblance of real happiness.  In this, Fitzgerald is making a statement about "the Jazz Age," a time period in which the idealization of social popularity, materialism, and narcissist self- interest all led to the crash and collapse intrinsically associated with the time period.

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The Great Gatsby

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