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Success and its pressures as depicted in The Great Gatsby and Things Fall Apart

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  1. Introduction
  2. The philosophical implications
  3. The underlying theme of Things Fall Apart
  4. Conflicting conclusions
  5. Gatsby's case
  6. Concept of communal acceptance
  7. Conclusion

Analysis of today's society reveals a deep-rooted desire for success. Indeed, it is human nature to strive to achieve, and it is encouraged to the point where ambition and competition become a way of living. For some, this translates into a life of blind devotion to a cause that is increasingly elusive; to others it represents an exercise in futility and artificiality; and still to others it is some combination of the two. Yet, what is certain is that regardless of one's approach to the lifelong mission of success, the ultimate goal is happiness, for no individual seeks depression and misfortune. At worst, those who are comfortable in their own misery reveal that it is in such a state that they are most happy, or most pleased with life and its processes.

[...] In the end, only he can judge its worth and assign a value to the merits of his thought process and his ultimate sacrifice: his life. What is clear, however, is the fact that Gatsby's aspirations for higher moral standards of success are nonetheless corrupted by the intrusive force and influence of society. Okonkwo's incentives, as mentioned above, are his fears. These fears are derived first and foremost from society as a whole. Yet, such a blanket statement is ineffective at accurately analyzing the root of the problem. [...]


[...] In truth, he is an exercise in irony, for in a certain sense he is the very symbol of the blind materialism of the decade, but conversely, he is its antithesis, in that his happiness and success are realized through love, perhaps the most noble of causes. Both texts thus make a point of emphasizing the ideological impetuses behind their protagonists' drives toward success. For Okonkwo it is a fear of failure and validation within the community. For Gatsby it is instead the desire for ultimate happiness as attained through love. [...]


[...] The recent victory in World War in establishing the United States as a premier international power, strengthened its economy and capital infrastructure so to create greater economic opportunities (Miller 257). In the midst of these opportunities lurked the necessity for enjoyment on a mass scale, in a sense representing the overall human quest for happiness. In Gatsby's case, it would appear as if he were destined for happiness, if he had not already achieved it. What more could one ask for besides handsomeness, wealth, and friends? [...]

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