The Demons that Plague Us

The Road to Failure for the American Society

By: Ellie Menso

“It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” -John Steinbeck

Welcome to America. Land of the selfish and home of the fake. A society doomed to repeat the failures shown to us by The Great Gatsby. Slowly, America is falling to the same demons that lead to the death of Gatsby. Demons that could be shaken off but Americans have chosen to ignore. Demons that are slowly eating away at our society’s foundation and will lead it to destruction. We’ve begun to fall to the same demons that plagued the society of Gatsby: selfishness, fakeness, and carelessness. And our American society will fail, just as Gatsby’s did.

“It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”- Matt Damon

The Great Charade

Real people cannot succeed in a fake world. The American society has been built into a world full of people pretending just to succeed. Gatsby was a real man, but with the fake society he lived in, he would never succeed. The people in the East Egg all pretended to be someone that they were not, and they were seen as successful people. ‘Owl-Eyes’ was a character who was surprised to find a real person (Gatsby) among the fake, “’They’re real…Absolutely real-pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and- here! Lemme show you.’”. Owl Eyes was shocked to find that there was a true man behind the screen. In American society today, we believe that the celebrities we see in the magazines are successful people. They are seen as the people who are successful because everyone knows who they are and what they’ve done to achieve that. But they are just shells of people that underneath, are fake and empty. They lie, cheat, steal abuse drugs and squander their real lives in the pursuit of fake. They are people who will do anything and everything to be seen as “successful”. We put these pretenders up on a pedestal and rip the rug out from underneath the feet of people who try to go through their lives as real people.

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“To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve.” -Michael Jordan

The Bad Egg

Today’s society shows the same narcissistic attitude that was present during Gatsby’s society, and an attitude that we can’t seem to escape. Myrtle was a person who was selfish and greedy and only wanted Tom for his wealth. “’He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off him…’” All she saw was his expensive clothes and was attracted only to his money. America today shows this same selfishness and greed. An example of this would be Illinois’ Governor Rob Blagojevich trying to sell the state's empty senate seat to the highest bidder. He did so to further his own power and to become seen as a successful individual with the money and support he made from the deal. Blagojevich’s selfishness and greed shows how even our political system is corrupt and is beginning to fail. Selfishness is a trait that is in our political system and the politicians are seen as successful people even though they are narcissists. Our society will fail just as Gatsby’s did with people’s selfishness and greed controlling it.

"Attention leads to immortality. Carelessness leads to death. Those who pay attention will not die, while the careless are as good as dead already.” - Gautama Buddha

The Valley of Neglect

In Gatsby’s society, the carelessness of people can be seen trough Tom and Daisy. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” In today’s society, we can see the carelessness when it comes to social networking. People put things up on the internet for everyone to see not caring who sees it and what they can do with it. People today neglect their own privacy. This shows how in American society today, we are just like Gatsby’s because we are careless with what we do and say. We are a society that is as good as dead already.

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“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”-William Shakespeare

Devils' Party

Gatsby’s parties are a symbol of the total downfall of his society. “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” In his parties there was the fakeness in the famous actors and stars, selfishness in the ladies who cared only about the cost of their dresses, and carelessness in the drivers after the party who had no care for the safety of anyone. Gatsby’s parties showed the ultimate downfalls of society, all of which can be seen in today’s society. American society has the fakeness in our celebrities, the selfishness in our politicians and the carelessness of internet users. All three traits will lead to failure. Unless we change ourselves, we will fail just as Gatsby’s did. We will fall to the demons that plague us.