Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World are classic examples of how societies can be similar in the vices adopted by human beings. They show how behavior and attitudes are shaped by the demands of society. For instance, in The Great Gatsby, characters’ lives are driven so much by instant gratification. They believe that they are supposed to have everything they want immediately. This is the result of extreme wealth. Conversely, in Brave New World, the feelings of instant gratification have resulted from the system design. The system has shaped people to believe that happiness can only come when individual needs are satisfied. Success in that society, thus, is measured on prosperity and economic growth. The Great Gatsby has similarities and differences in such matters as the hollowness evident among the Upper-Class citizens, consumerism and instant gratification, the decline of such values as those described by the pursuit of the American Dream, and the divide between the wealthy and successful and other average citizens.
What Is the American Dream in the Great Gatsby
As far as the decline of American Dream values is concerned, The Great Gatsby, at least on the surface, captures the lives of a man and a woman and their thwarted love. The decline of values associated with the American Dream, however, is the less romantic theme on which the story is told. This was an era characterized by material excess and unprecedented prosperity. Jordan mentions that Gatsby gives large parties (Davies and Fitzgerald 54). Making reference to the excesses of the society of the time. These were the grounds upon which the moral and social values decay was set. The greed, cynicism, as well as, emptiness in the pursuit of pleasure is evident in the reckless jubilance which the decadent parties portray. Noble goals are replaced by the desire for pleasure and money. Thus, the corruption of moral values. Carraway observes that only gradually did I become aware that the automobiles which turned expectantly into his drive stayed for a minute and then drove sulkily away (Davies and Fitzgerald 116). This was an indication of how temporary associations and friendships formed from the wild parties would last. They end as fast as they began. With them, the values and dreams that Gatsby had.
Comparison of Books: The Great Gatsby and Brave New World
The demons that characterize the decline of values in The Great Gatsby also exist in Brave New World. There is a very high level of dehumanization so much so that human values are seen as strange. Penina, for instance, tells Bernard that When the individual feels, society reels (Reiff 69). Additionally, there is too much consumption of drugs just as is seen in The Great Gatsby. Huxley indicates that in Brave New World, People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get...And if anything should go wrong, there's soma (Reiff 220). In this world, things are different. Happiness comes from strange achievements and material wealth. It is through material wealth that certain things like the soma drug are bought for the temporary solution of the disappointments that life can bring.
The Theme of Social Class and Society in the Great Gatsby
In The Great Gatsby, the old aristocracy portrays the emptiness that wealth has brought in East Egg. These are the wealthy Upper Class with old money. They do not care whether they hurt people or not. While they have taste and grace, they show no care for other people outside their class. They consider the newly rich like Jay Gatsby as outsiders who are encroaching into their world. When Gatsby dies, they do not want to attend his funeral. One of them quips that when a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it in any way (Davies and Fitzgerald 173). And yet, they counted themselves as his friends when he was alive. Those from West Egg like Carraway and Gatsby, on the other hand, still have a sense of humanity in them. The wealth has not consumed them. Carraway, for instance, believes he still has the good heart he had before moving to New York. He says Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known (Davies and Fitzgerald 64). In this world, society is very judgmental. Reputation, rumors, and appearance is the basis upon which the Upper Class with old money judge others, and also the basis upon which they restrict themselves.
What Is the Problem in Society Brave New World
The society in Brave New World is judgmental and hollow mainly because the uniformity that has been engineered into the society has made it like that. In the event that these people encounter anything which does not fit into the mold carefully designed for their world, or into set rules, they see such things as mistakes. In describing this world, Mond quips: All our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody's allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn't be added to except by special permission from the head cook (Huxley 225). This is a strange world indeed with such beliefs pointed out by Mond that stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune (Huxley 221).
Instant Gratification in Brave New World
The world of instant gratification in Brave New World is messed up. Technology has changed things. If you want to feel a certain way, you simply take a pill and your needs are met. Mustapha Mond says There's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past, you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gram tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now alluding to how fast feelings can be achieved; gratification (Huxley 238). Anyone who does not conform to this school of thought is seen as a rebel and missing out. Mond tells Savage, you're claiming the right to be unhappy simply because he saw things differently and does not feel soma should be the solution to everything, especially emotions and feelings (Huxley 240).
Instant Gratification in the Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby captures the lives of a number of characters who were so ingrained in getting instant gratification. These include Tom, with old money, and the women he sees who want the high life without working for it. Wealth makes them think they can get whatever they want whenever they want. Jay Gatsby himself thought he would buy his way into the Upper Class and be accepted without any questions. Tom is self-centered and does not care for Daisy. He says “And what's more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart, I love her all the time” (Davies and Fitzgerald 252). Tom believes the fact that he can cheat when he wants to is good, but this is not the case. On another note, talks about social norms in an attempt at disapproving of Gatsby’s activities and background. To this, he says, “I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife” (Davies and Fitzgerald 230).
The worlds in The Great Gatsby and Brave New World are similar in more ways than one. Vices such as drug abuse are seen as normal and morals are eliminated. Even so, there are characters like Nick and Savage who are still sober and portray the point that humanity still exists even in such chaos and messes. They show that it does not reward them to try so hard to conform to a certain group and their ways. Gatsby tries so hard to fit into the Upper Class but fails in the end. Similarly, Savage commits suicide because the Brave New World was too much for him to handle. It was different and conflicted with his beliefs.
Davies, David Stuart, and Scott F. Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby & the diamond as big as the Ritz. London: Collector's Library, 2005. Print.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave new world revisited. New York: HarperPerennial, 2000. Print.
Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Aldous Huxley: Brave new world. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2010. Print.
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