The Great Gatsby – Theme

Theme of Illusion

The Great Gatsby has a running theme that people portray themselves differently to who they truly are creating a persona or character, to fit into social circles, ideal lives and someone who they wish to be. People will always be the same person they once were, no matter how hard they try to suppress who they are, no matter how far they run from the past, no matter what, they will always be the same person and the past will always catch up with them. The characters in The Great Gatsby have two different lives or act as someone they aren’t – Tom lives a double life, one with Daisy and one with Myrtle, Daisy acts classy, sophisticated and kind all to fit into the upper-class lifestyle but in reality she’s materialistic, shallow and fake, Nick claims he’s honest and open-minded but we then see a side of Nick that is constantly consumed in judgment and Gatsby portrays an extravagant lifestyle and that he’s completely happy and content in his life but behind closed doors, he’s unhappy and lonely. They portray different personalities to fit into the upper-class society, each character throws “dust in your eyes” hiding who they truly are, it isn’t until the illusion is dropped and the dust has cleared from your eyes that you can see each character for who they truly are. I think that Fitzgerald is trying to say that we are all just trying to fit in, it doesn’t matter how old you are, how rich you are, people just want to be liked and fit in, Gatsby, for example, changed every aspect of who he was even his name just to fit the upper-class lifestyle to be worthy of Daisy’s love. I think this idea of illusion that we are all just trying to fit in is relevant for teenagers particularly, especially with social media being so influential in our lives, there are so many ‘standards’ to who you should and shouldn’t be. Many people do act differently or try to act differently online and in social situations to fit into social circles or into society as a whole but no matter what you can’t escape your past, you can’t change the past but you can accept it and move on and who you truly are will always be authentic and will come to light eventually. I think the message that there is more to people and their lives than what they portray – good or bad, is an important message to not judge people from what you see as there is more to them than they show, as at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the same thing – fit in. 

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