Comparative Essay "The Great Gatsby" And "Talented Mr Ripley"

1116 words - 5 pages

Would you ever go to any lengths to achieve goals in which you desire, even if it means pretending to be someone you're not? This is what many people, past and present, have done in order to attain their dream of living the life of wealth, liberty, and happiness. That dream is the American Dream. Both the novel, "The Great Gatsby", by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the film, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" directed by Anthony Minghella in 1999, appropriates the idea of failure and corruption of the American Dream and self reinvention to reflect the futility of pretence in a post war context.In The Great Gatsby, self reinvention mirrors the rapidly changing society of post war America 1920s, where soc ...view middle of the document...

But the pursuit of the American Dream results in carelessness, the inversion of values and lack of morals represented through Gatsby's character. Accumulated images of extravagance, "rounds of cocktails…five crates of oranges" communicates to us his enormous gained wealth. However, allusions to immoral means of gaining such affluence, "a lot of those newly rich people are just bootleggers, you know", suggests the inversion of values, where individuals will resort to criminal behaviour for monetary gain. Gatsby's metaphoric "Platonic conception of himself" articulates his naivety and emphasises the hollowness of his fantasy, in a world where a corrupted society sees people as commodities and worships money and power. The icon of Dr T. J. Eckleberg, being a figure of American success, conveys commercial values and the loss of spirituality as he represents an inverted God who "sees all". Amidst the materialistic values of the wealthy, Gatsby is isolated, ironically outcast from the upper classes, as suggested by Nick's dejected tone at Gatsby's funeral, "but it was no use - nobody came", revealing the shallowness of the affluent in the 1920's and emphasising the delusion of honest relationships and despondency that surrounds Gatsby.Likewise, Anthony Minghella's, The Talented Mr Ripley, appropriates the idea of the American Dream to reflect the materialistic values and loss of spirituality in the 1950's post war context. Tom's reinvention is explored, and also, he experiences the negative consequence of carelessness as a result of achieving the American Dream. For Tom Ripley, who desires material wealth and an improved social status, the intradiegetic voice in the opening scene reveals that the borrowing of the Princeton jacket is the catalyst for his self-reinvention, "If I could just go back... if I could rub everything out... starting with myself. Starting with borrowing the jacket." This idea is also foreshadowed through the beach scene, where Tom looks at Dickie through binoculars whilst repeating "this is my face" where the beach also reflects the luxurious lifestyle of Americans in Italy.The transformation of Tom is presaged when Tom me...

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