How The Great Gatsby Relates to the American Dream
Length: 951 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)
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The Great Gatsby is a view into the society of the 1920's masterfully created my Fitzgerald. In this society the one and only Gatsby falls right into the middle. Gatsby is an exemplary example of one trying to live out the American Dream. "The American dream is the idea held by many in the United States of America that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity." (Wikipedia) So basically the American Dream is to have money, and a family. Gatsby got his money, but what he really wanted was Daisy Buchanan.
Gatsby spent his whole life striving for one thing. The American Dream, which for him is mainly dominated by Daisy. In chapter nine of the book you can see that Gatsby started striving to meet the American Dream at young age. The reader learns of a book of Gatsby's. He has his everyday routine planned out in this book. Things like "Read one improving book or magazine per week." Show That Gatsby wants to improve himself to a point where he can succeed. That isn't all Gatsby did to improve his chances of success though. He even went to the extent of changing his name from James Gatz, to Jay Gatsby in an attempt to create a new, successful man that people could admire.
Gatsby had a very large influence in his race for the top. Dan Cody showed Gatsby a life of extreme elegance and women. That influenced Gatsby in his already growing Dream. Dan Cody spent his time with Gatsby prior to Gatsby making all his money and putting himself out to the world, as a man that had "made it" I guess you could say. It was from Dan Cody that Gatsby received that little extra drive he needed to push all the way.
When Gatsby returned from war, he set back to his goal. When he had reached the first part of the American Dream, the money, he bought a house in the West Egg close to the other part of his dream. Daisy. He even started idolizing the green light on the end of the Buchanan dock, which is a symbol of that for which he strives. Gatsby wants to fulfill the American Dream and be complete, but he can't do it without Daisy, his love.
So Gatsby sets out on an adventure to get her.
Fitzgerald's society is split into two. The West Egg is where those who are newly rich, or those of the lower society, poor if you please, reside. The East Egg is where those of old money reside. Tom and Daisy are in the East Egg part of society. People of the West Egg worked for their money. They always want more and better things to show their money, while those of the East Egg have enough pride in knowing that they have always been rich. Gatsby is in the West Egg throwing his parties and showing off, trying to get Daisy's attention, but as a resident of the East Egg, it doesn't catch her attention.
Jay Gatsby never does fulfill the American Dream. He got so hung up on it that he never even lived life to its fullest. It is greatly expressed in this quote from the book. "The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of Goda phrase which, if it means anything, means just thatand he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end." He got caught in the ceaseless trap of wanting. But Gatsby isn't the only example of trying to fulfill the American dream in this book. There is also Myrtle. Who falls just as short as Gatsby did. She also had only one part of the dream. She had the love. Myrtle loved Tom, but she didn't have the money. Without money Tom would not take her seriously and that is how she died, half way there. Then you have Tom and Daisy. They seem to have fulfilled the American Dream. Is it really what they want though? They have money. They have love and family, but are they happy? It's hard to believe they are if Tom has to have an affair and Daisy loves Gatsby.
When looking back upon the book, you see tales of the American Dream. You see great men like Gatsby fall short, and men like Tom make it, but you wonder at what cost? It seems that the American Dream really can consume a person. Fitzgerald portrays this in a gorgeous mural of this struggle through The Great Gatsby. I believe an exquisite way to end it all is in this quote "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no mattertomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning
so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
1. "The Great Gatsby." Wikipedia. 25 Oct. 2006. 15 Oct. 2006
2. Fitzgerald, Scott F.. The Great Gatsby. United States: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925
3 Phillips, Brian. SparkNote on The Great Gatsby. 19 Jan. 2007