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Essay on Presentation of the American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

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Gatsby and his American Dream
How does Gatsby represent the American Dream?
In the cornerstone document to the United States’ society, a thing so dear to Americans as a symbol of their country’s values, The Declaration of Independence, it is said that all men have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This has always been taken to heart by all of American society, although the simple dream of equal opportunities and the possibility of “rags to riches” results which can be achieved by the strength of a person’s character and not the certain privileges they may have been born with. This radical concept was often difficult to grasp, and it would seem that it has never truly been shown in its pure form throughout American history. People have always managed to twist its simple values to suit themselves – to discriminate against those with less than they, or those who are different, the Native Americans, the Blacks. In Fitzgerald’s prolific novel, the Great Gatsby, ”the dream” and how it became sorely twisted in the decadent society of the ‘20’s is critically examined by the author as he cleverly personifies it in the shape of his titular character. Gatsby is a man who had the power to achieve anything he dreamed of, and many would argue that he wasted this great capacity as he sorely seemed to confuse the pursuit of happiness, with the pursuit of wealth and position. How he loved a woman for her representation of this world – sought her as he might a prize instead of appreciating her as a person, for all her unique flaws.
“Jay Gatsby” is the name that James Gatz, a working class boy from the Middle West, used to reinvent himself when he went out into the world to seek his fortune, to get somewhere in life. Rig...


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... his own interpretation of The Dream, but it was his dream, and the fact that he had one at all is something quite powerful. As Charlene Dawson argued – “The ideal American dream is not so realistic”. Gatsby was not a realist, he was a dreamer, who may have dreamed a dream less worthy than a man like Martin Luther King Jr’s , but it was his dream, and he may never have been called “the Great” without it. The American Dream may have sprung from a declaration of equality, but it was an invitation for people to express their individuality by demonstrating what their own definition of happiness was. Gatsby embodies the entirety of this dream, the hope, the misguided materialism and criminality and even in a way its failure, for though the Declaration of Independence states that all should have the right to pursue happiness, it said nothing whatsoever about achieving it.


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