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Material wealth acts as a mask for immorality and moral decay. The allure of women and power of money is an indispensable aspect of life in the current society. The book and the poem have similarities and differences. The setting of both provides resources and grounds for immorality and moral decay. Also, there are honest and dishonest people in both. The honest people provide hope for a better future. They persist in their efforts to achieve their dreams. The fact that they live on their dreams for a better tomorrow prevents them from achieving their goals at present. It is evident that the person is experiencing a form of emptiness, a remedy from which he tries to find in material and emotional things. However, he gets it all wrong because the emptiness stems deep within his spirit.
The person is certainly searching for satisfaction from material things. The desire to fill the emptiness with his spirit is overwhelming. He goes into extra pains of making extravagant parties and making more money, thinking that it is the perfect solution to free his spirit from torment. Unfortunately, he can not get what he is searching for because he searches in the wrong places. The lack of material wealth, which he should possess, leads to the failure of his dreams.
He spends lavishly on the parties and barely recognizes most of the guests. His parties are a mask of something that is lacking within him and which he can not achieve in his current state. "Anyhow, he gives large parties," chapter 3, p12. The party creates an image of greedy people who try to pursue pleasures. " no alcohol ---- "marmulade is sweet” Chapter 4, p.12. The people come in great numbers to enjoy the sweetness which they can not resist. The temptation of marmalade is strong. They dine and wine yet this cannot fill their emptiness. In the process, they end up losing their morals and values in pursuit of happiness which they can never receive. The people display recklessness and can not assume responsibility. This shows the nature of the people as selfish and irresponsible.
The party goers have a strong interest in material wealth and take every opportunity to make business deals. “A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight, and we sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced to us as Mr. Mumble.” Chapter 3, p 5. They love the opulent environment which offers a variety of orchestra music and an assortment of foods and drinks. All the characters in the party are obviously blind and can not differentiate reality and fiction. Gatsby maintains a low profile despite the fact that he is the host.
“Before the taking of a toast and tea” (line 34). The persona is facing indecisiveness on whether to indulge in the goodies that are on offer. He is torn between conforming to current living and what he considers being morally upright. He is too cautious in conforming as this can put his spirituality in jeopardy. He would rather not take the tea and toast as they will finally make him feel spiritually empty.
In the book, Gatsby does not engage in food and drink, yet he is the host of the party: “on buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d' vour, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold” (p.41-42). In the poem, the person fears to engage in the worldly pleasures; even though his flesh is willing, the spirit fails him. They both portray the necessary change that is currently lacking. Many people are greedy and cannot resist the temptation of fancy foods and other pleasures associated with wealth. People visit places that offer them these worldly pleasures in multitude. The guests of luxury facilities receive a variety of ‘high life’ treats ranging from inviting cuisines and fine selection of music played by an orchestra band to swimming and sun bathing. These people are searching for the pleasures that they hope will fulfill their ‘hunger’, but it does not avail since they are spiritually empty. In the book, the people flock at the party to sample the delicacies. In the poem, the people eat and drink greedily to the pleasures of the world. He tries to find a woman to love in order to try and fill his spiritual emptiness. However, he is fearful of getting into the relationship: “Do I dare to eat a peach?” (line 123). He is indecisive about having a relationship which might eventually lead him to destruction: “And time yet for a hundred indecisions” (line 33). He manifests a desirable behavior that ensures his safety from the world of sexual immorality, which he dares not to venture. This is where there are “voices dying with a dying fall.” (line 52).
The imagery in the poem brings in a greater understanding. Through his words, he portrays the wasteful state in which he places himself. He strives to achieve his goals but fails. This makes him live in isolation and wasteful state. He has given in to despair: “I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me” (lines 124-125). From the book, the vast house with salons, swimming pools, and bars is a sure indicator of vast riches. However, this is a total waste in comparison to what he is lacking.
Ashes signify the vanity of the earthly things that he pursues to provide him with happiness. They disappear just like smoke or burnt ashes without giving him the spiritual fulfillment that he is lacking: “Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys” (line 19).
The restaurants provide avenues of false hope. The oysters’ shells can never build a foundation that will yield to any results. The building will collapse, and this leaves the people with spiritual emptiness, “sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells” (line 7). Chapter two of the book introduces wasteful imagery as well. “A valley of ashes” (p. 16) shows how Gatsby possess a strong attachment to material wealth, which he believes can lead him to achieve his goal. The fact that he tries to reach Daisy in order to have fulfillment shows that he has spiritual emptiness. Daisy in this case is compared to God. The valley of ashes calls for a change from the present position to that of spiritual fulfillment. It is for this reason that Gatsby dreams are unachievable because of his wealth attachment. The parties that Gatsby throws are full of opulence and glamour. They are expensive and wasteful. All his efforts aim at providing a solution to spiritual emptiness that he feels deep inside: Valley of ashes takes a similarity of darkness and lifelines. Ashes results from a raging fire that bring destruction and death. Ashes create an image of moral decay and loss of values. It can also represent a plight of the poor in the society.
Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York-every Monday these same oranges and lemons left through the back door in a pyramid of pulp halves. There was a machine in the kitchen which could extract the juice of two hundred oranges in half an hour if a little button was pressed two hundred times by a butler's thumb (Chapter 3, p. 4).
Many people come to the house parties in search of full spirit, but they leave the place with emptiness: “The crates of lemons and oranges come in full of juice but leaving through the back door empty of their sweet juices”.
John the Baptist signifies the person who will prepare the people in order for them to unite. He provides a link in hoping for a better future. The book provides an outstanding example of the man who wants to guide people on how to lead an exemplary life. In the poem, the man tries to resist temptation and to help save other people. He has overwhelming questions that require answers, yet he cannot get what he is searching for: “And this and so much more?” (line 103). “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” (lines 94 and 95). In chapter 6, on page 2, the phrase “son of God” means that is a person who goes about conducting his Father’s businesses. He is faithful and trustworthy to perform the duties that are within his scope of responsibilities. No one truly knows the true identity of Mr. Jay. Every guest speculates about it, and even the perception of the narrator does not fit the reality of Mr. Jay when the narrator meets him. Mr. Jay is humble, respectful, and polite. He does not drink or engage in the partying mood. The son of God must not conform to the ways of the world. Gatsby remains a mystery to people, just like one cannot fully understand the mind of God. He remains observant of the people at the party always wearing an infectious smile. The smile has “a quality of eternal reassurance in it” (chapter 3, p. 24). In Chapter 8, on page 3, there is a comparison of Daisy with the “Holy Grail”. Gatsby’s dream is to win her back; hence, he must play the role of a knight. The dream compares Gatsby to a knight quest. This shows spiritual warfare, since knight has superficial powers. In the poem, the man has to be cautious not to fall into temptation that the current world has on offer. He has also to stand his grounds against all the temptation of the beautiful and enticing women.
Both the book and the poem provide situations that require from the characters a lot of discipline and hope in order to achieve the ideal future that they dream of. A change is necessary, and the book tries to call for this change. The poem brings in strong images that describe how the modern life can isolate or destroy a man’s esteem. It provides an outstanding example of a man who is trying to fight an overwhelming desire to indulge in the worldly pleasures. The book and the poem display aspects of moral lack that results from spiritual emptiness. The people engage in all sorts of activities that bring pleasure in order to fill their spirit void. However, they fail, because the true cure lies in a positive change, in the spirit. It proves impossible for Gatsby to reclaim his past glory. He cannot change from his state because he is in a dream world. According to Daisy, he cannot reach her because of the obsession that he has on material wealth. The hunger for material wealth does not connect with spirituality. The hunger for wealth and power corrupts spirituality, leading to spiritual emptiness.
Gatsby dwells in the past; the future looks hopeless, although he keeps on trying in the hope to achieve his dreams some day in the future. The search is endless, and when he thinks that finally he has found an answer, it dawns on him as the worst form of self destruction. The spiritual emptiness will continue to torture him, unless he finds some form of superior power in order for his soul to find some rest. This search for satisfaction is futile, and meaningless. The void that fills the spirit is enormous and causes sickness. The narrator of the poem visits in the evening. Evenings create an image of transition from daylight to darkness. The evening is compared to “a patient etherized upon a table” (line 3). The helpless state of the patient creates an image of the great need for surgery in order to cure the disease. This shows that the person’s dream has not yet come to pass.