The work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, is a story of an American dream which came briefly true for one of the main personages, Jay Gatsby. It is the story of a man making it from zero to hero and from rugs to riches. It is a story of great love, betrayal, glamour and money. The following essay explores how F. Scott Fitzgerald uses literary or rhetorical features to convey Machiavellian principles.
First of all, it is necessary to briefly define Machiavellian principles in order to better understand their use in the story. For the sake of brevity, these principles go down to a simple statement “absolutely any method should be used if it can bring the result, even the most heinous, unethical and wicked”. Throughout the story one sees numerous examples when Machiavellian principles are used.
Jay Gatsby clearly used unethical and illegal methods of accumulating his wealth (via bootlegging) yet in the story he is presented as a good and positive person. The reader is made like Jay for the love he has towards Daisy. In fact, the Machiavellian methods appear to be perfectly acceptable when they are applied to love matters.
Jay Gatsby throws numerous parties in his gothic mansion for the sole purpose of obtaining a result, i.e. to attract Daisy. He wastes money, invites dozens or hundreds of different people, neighbors and other folks in order to create a social proof or an image of an affluent, kind, fun, and interesting individual. He does not care about all these people yet rather uses them as means to get to his goal whom he loved since his youth when he was but a poor lad.
Another rhetoric feature to convey Machiavellian principles is seen When Jay Gatsby actually got close with Nick, a narrator in the story, Gatsby again effectively uses him to arrange a meeting with Daisy in a manner that benefits Gatsby the most. Gatsby in fact managed to impress Daisy and to establish a sexual affair with that married woman. Again, throughout the story, no one truly blames Gatsby for the corruption that he promulgated in his action, except for Tom, Daisy’s husband who also had an extramarital affair with Myrtle. Even though he personally cheated on Daisy he did not want to have Daisy cheating him. This again clearly shows the double standards promulgated by Machiavellianism simply because he could not accept Daisy cheating on him as he cheats on Daisy.
Throughout the story, one clearly sees the author used literary and rhetoric techniques to show that people act in the way that clearly satisfies their own egos and self without paying much attention to such concepts as morality, duty and values that people learn throughout their lives. Daisy acted as a stereotypical woman that chauvinists speak about. When she understood that there was someone more affluent and more successful then her current husband she did not hesitate to become his lover. One should keep in mind that originally she did not have any sexual relationships and did not love Jay Gatsby when he was a poor chap. It is the money and the power that it brought to Daisy that clearly made her love him dearly.
The concluding scene when Tom shot Jay Gatsby again shows that Tom was guided by Machiavellian principles where personal interests are always put before the interests of other people. Jay gambled with his wealth, love and relationship. He did not really take into account family values (based on Machiavellian principles that take into account only personal wants and interests) and lost to Tom who also despite being a corrupt person with respect to family values and traditions did not like Daisy to cheat on him with the nouveau riche, Jay.
Finally, it is necessary to note that the story The Great Gatsby was clearly based on the Machiavellian principles where personal interests are considered before family values, social responsibility and concepts such as duty or obligation. The whole story stressed the concept of “American Dream” which basically means that a person can achieve anything he/she wants in America. As a result of everyone acting based purely on his interests be it Jay, Daisy, or Tom, the readers did not really feel sorry for any of the characters and fully accept each of them as valuable members of society who fully pay for their actions.
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