By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom
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Additional info for American Fiction Between The Wars (Bloom's Period Studies)
If he is not linked with his parents, he is linked with Dan Cody (“the pioneer debauchee, who during one phase of American life brought back to the Eastern seaboard the savage violence of the frontier brothel and saloon”), and he shares the basic assumptions of Dan Cody’s ethics. He can be faithful to his dream but to fulﬁll it he has to revert to questionable means, renounce his scruples, compromise with the world and its evil ways. ” On the practical side, he is a grown man who knows how to attain his practical aim.
He might, after all win his battle, because he has prepared himself for it. But in his very strength, his sentimental purity is impaired. Gatsby builds his own fortune and puts himself, as it were in a bargaining position with Tom and Daisy, because he has somehow fulﬁlled her expectations of luxury and wealth. He is in any sense a self-made man, but he wants still to spring from “a Platonic conception of himself” and remain pure to his motives, at least. His motives, however, may be pure, and yet he has to resort to dubious means to make his fortune; he is thus brought to foul the purity of his actions, and the “foul dust that ﬂoated in the wake of his dreams” envelops him in the end.
2 In The Great Gatsby the motive of an impossible dream of love which riches cannot fulﬁll after the right moment has passed forever, ﬁnds its deﬁnitive consecration. Fitzgerald reveals the tragic implications of that dream by organizing the plot around an agonizing conﬂict of the moral and social The “Tragic Pastoral” 37 order and by enlarging its meaning on the symbolic level of legend and myth. The story of Gatsby and Daisy, Nick and Jordan, Tom and Myrtle has a common origin with the similar adventures of so many of Fitzgerald’s heroes and heroines.