The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic twentieth-century story
of Jay Gatsby’s quest for Daisy Buchanan, examines and critiques Gatsby’s particular vision of the 1920’s American dream. F. Scott
Fitzgerald was regarded as the representative figure of the “Jazz Age”
??an age between the end of the First World War and the outbreak of the Great Depression. Therefore, in many ways of his stories, he expressed the disillusionment of the young generation with “the
American dream”. The Great Gatsby is considered by critics as the core
of Fitzgerald’s artistic achievement. In some critics’ views, his works
always focus on the notion of the American dream, which is why those arouse the reader’s interest, especially in a younger generation. Different from other American writers’ books which also describe the
theme of the American dream, Fitzgerald shows us a new print of it. His works depended on the 1920s of America, the period of phenomenal growth in America. With the richness of material, people’s spiritual life
was corrupted, especially the life of the upper class.The steadily prosperity of 1920s gave quick rise to gross materialism, which occupied people’s mind. To obtain the power and money, people would do anything to achieve them. The hedonism pushed the whole society changing the mode of life in New York. And everyone addicted this atmosphere of self-indulgence. One popular form was the cocktail party, where people gathered for drinking, dancing, gossiping, and flirting, in
chapter? of The Great Gatsby , Fitzgerald described the lavish
celebrations in Gatsby’s house. The bustle of preparation, the
abundance of food, the huge crowd, the noise, reflected the characters of the society. Fitzgerald’s greatness lies in the fact that he faced the social problems directly, in his personal experience, the embodiment of that of the nation and created a myth out of the American life.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald seems not to criticize the American dream itself but the corruption of the American dream. What was once for Thomas Jefferson—belief self-reliance and hard work has become
what Nick Carraway calls “…the service of a vast, vulgar and
meretricious beauty.” The energy that might have gone into the pursuit of noble goals has been channeled into the pursuit of power and pleasure, but empty form of success.
Jay Gatsby embodies many positive and negative aspects of this dream. Gatsby was born in poor family; he worked hard, acquired great wealth, and won the girl he loved. However, his character also represents the negative aspects of the American dream: the materialism, and the isolation. Gatsby decorates his whole world through his love for Daisy. His aim, in fact, is to transfigure money into love—an ideal dream, an
assault on reality. But when he met Daisy again, beautiful as she was, most things about her were fairly disappointing to Gatsby. The only thing about Daisy that does not thus slightly fail Gatsby is her voice with its
inexhaustible charm. Gatsby says to Nick, “her voice is full of money”.
What he loves is the full realization of the natural beauty of Daisy’s voice,
he mistakenly believes the rest of her nature that has been made possible by wealth. This shows that Gatsby understands the link between love and money. That Daisy’s voice should be full of money is what Gatsby could make. As a romantic dreamer who seeks to fulfill his ideal by accumulating wealth, Gatsby stands for the whole American experience. The corruption of his dream by adopting materialism as its means and illusory youth and beauty as its goal is the corruption of American idealism. In the end Gatsby is destroyed by his illusion just as the American landscape has been converted into a ghastly “valley of ashes.”
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the emptiness of American
materialism, and the impossibility of achieving the American dream.
The Great Gatsby describes the failure of the American dream, from the point of view that American political ideals conflict with the actual social conditions that exist. For whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people, the truth is that social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot be overcome. Myrtle’s attempt to break into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed to fail. Taking advantage of her vivacity, her lively nature, she seeks to escape from her own class. She enters into an affair with Tom and takes on his way of living. But she only becomes vulgar and corrupt
like the rich. She scorns people from her own class and loses all sense of
[;]morality. And for all her social ambition, Myrtle never succeeds in her attempt to find a place for herself in Tom’s class. When it comes to a
crisis, the rich stand together against all outsiders.
Myrtle’s condition, of course, is a weaker reflection of Gatsby’s more
significant struggle. While Myrtle’s desire springs from social ambition,
Gatsby’s is related more to his idealism, his faith in life’s possibilities.
Undoubtedly, his desire is also influenced by social considerations; Daisy, who is wealthy and beautiful, represents a way of life which is remote from Gatsby’s and therefore more attractive because it is out of reach. However, social consciousness is not a basic cause. It merely directs and increases Gatsby’s belief in life’s possibilities. Like Myrtle, Gatsby
struggles to fit himself into another social group, but his attempt is more urgent because his whole career, his confidence in himself and in life is totally shattered when he fails to win Daisy. His death when it comes is almost insignificant, for, with the collapse of his dream, Gatsby is already spiritually dead. His failure is that of the idealistic sentimental type of people, who yearn for spiritual and material improvement during the 1920s.Through the novel, Fitzgerald states that the failure of hopes and dreams, or the failure of the American dream itself, is unavoidable. Because the reality cannot keep up with ideals and the ideals are in any case usually too fantastic to be realized.
For all the progress and prosperity, there are still poverty, discrimination and exploration. As for values and morality, there are also hypocrisy, corruption and suppression. These hard truths have made the American dream an illusion.
Gatsby’s dream of Daisy is crushed because it cannot survive while being confronted with reality. The reality is that Gatsby is unable to turn back time and relive the past. As the embodiment of the American dream, Gatsby’s dream is also American’s dream. With the disillusionment of his
dream, the American dream becomes failure.