The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

By Julie Mitchell,2014-07-08 10:55
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    The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby was written in the year 1925, when it was the highly prosperous time of America after the World War I. In the book, the author F. Scott Fitzgerald creates the main character Jay Gatsby, a young man around thirty years old who rose from an poor childhood to become incredibly wealthy. Through the whole life of Gatsby we can see that he is the representative of the people who pursue the American dream in the 1920s with easy money and relaxed social values. After attaining the material wealth, there are no clearly outlined steps to take.

    Gatsby’s dream falling down represents the American dream falling down. Then why the American dream should fail in the end. I think that the following two reasons can explain it.

    Firstly, Gatsby builds up an illusionary dream. He instills Daisy with a kind of idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses. Though later he comes to know that Daisy is not the girl she once was and she doesn’t love him. But he cannot

    stop dreaming and continues to pursue the old days. Gatsby’s dream is ruined by the unworthiness of its object, just as the American dream in the 1920s is ruined by the unworthiness of its object—money and pleasure. Gatsby’s dream of a perfect Daisy

    collapses in the book which represents the collapse of the whole American dream.

    Secondly, from the beginning he uses a wrong way to achieve his dream and this would finally lead to his dream coming into failure. He gets rich through illegal way and hopes to attract Daisy by his money. The American dream of Gatsby corrupts as the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpasses more noble goals. This certainly cannot win the love of Daisy. More importantly, the sharp contrast between the ideal and the reality will inevitably result in the breakup of the dream. The American dream destroys not only for the profound social and historical reasons but also being deeply concerned with the self-destructive characters of Gatsby. When Gatsby’s simple and naïve characters are confronted with the cold society and moral decay of America which is represented by Daisy and Tom, there will be no place for Gatsby to escape but he has to die in the end.

    The idea of Amercan dream still hold true in todays time. It may be wealth,

    fame, love or power. But one thing never changes about American dream. That is everyone desires something in life, and everyone strives to get it. Gatsby is a prime example of pursuing Amercan dream.


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