Life, amongst other things, is full of grandeur and spectacle. It is only inevitable then, that human beings will be in pursuit of this, driven by the desire to have the quintessential lifestyle. But it is this desire to live in the ideal that hinders them from truly being happy.
For while happiness is possible, perfection is not. So in turn, the pursuit of happiness through perfection is a plan destined for failure. The last two pages in The Great Gatsby are exemplary of this idea. The unknown character at the end of the book who “had been away at the ends of the earth and didn’t know that the party was over” is representative of human beings immersed in a lifestyle that was only grandeur and spectacle, and nothing else. There was never any real significance or importance to the big house, the parties, cars etc.
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These were only used to satisfy a need for splendor, to prove that human beings were only a few steps away from the ideal. Which is of course, a flawed plan, as the ending of the book shows. The whole purpose of the parties was to lure Daisy into going to Gatsby’s house so she could fall in love with her or he could “have her.
” But she never does fall in love with Gatsby and he never “has her”. Daisy was just another goal to accomplish for Gatsby, just another extravagance to immerse himself in. The house then, like the pursuit of the ideal is flawed from the very start. The house failed in acquiring Daisy, just like the pursuit of an ideal failed to elicit happiness. These failures both epitomize Fitzgerald’s sentence, “the last and greatest of all human dreams.
” The pursuit of quintessence failed, it was the last and greatest of all human dreams after Gatsby died because Gatsby himself epitomized what it meant to pursue the ideal. He transformed himself from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby, and he did it buy using human desire to encounter wonder and splendor. People were intrigued by Gatsby, by his mysterious demeanor. There were a lot of questions surrounding Gatsby, about where he really came from and where he got his money, but he made it work.
He represented success to the people who attended his parties, because it was Gatsby who played host to the carousing and revelry that were so pervasive during that period of time. And if you were a member of that rambunctious crowd, of the people trying to achieve the “last and greatest of all human dreams”, then you were at Gatsby’s parties. But the search for euphoria, for absolute happiness through financial and material gain once again proved how flawed it could be. Gatsby never really took part in his own parties, rather he sat back and watched, hoping that one night Daisy would show up and then he’d finally be able to make her love him, or he’d finally be able to claim her as his. But when she did arrive, there was timidity on his part to “acquire” her.
Later on, when Daisy goes over to Nick’s house, Gatsby becomes nervous, he suggests perhaps that the meeting was a bad idea and that he should leave. Herein lies the flaw, he thought he loved her, but he didn’t ever think that he only coveted her because she was a fine prize, and in the end, he didn’t even “acquire” her. Daisy was just another member of that “rambunctious crowd” who was so caught up in a dream that would never be that she ruled out love when she married Tom. This is what added more flaw to the pursuit of the “last and greatest of all human dreams”. Gatsby tried to have love with someone who wasn’t made for it or interested in it. They were both looking to acquire, to gain, and in the end, they both lost. For all the obstacles standing in Gatsby’s way, he never seemed to give up on his dream of acquisition. After the war, when he went back to Louisville, retracing their steps together, knowing that she was gone, he still thought of her, of having her.
Even when he is leaving and the sun is setting, he “stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air”, still reaching for her while “he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever”, even then, after knowing that she would never be the same, he still longed to possess her. Knowing that.