Failure of the American Dream in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby


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Failure in The Great Gatsby


In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, all the characters are, in one way or another, attempting to become happier with their lives. The characters in the novel are divided into two groups: the rich upper class and the poorer lower class(West egg and East egg) though the main characters only try to make their lives better, the American dream they are all trying to achieve is eventually ruined by the harsh reality or life.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the rich couple, seem to have everything they could possibly want. Though their lives are full of anything you could imagine, they are unhappy and seek to change, Tom drifts on "forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game"(pg. 10) and reads "deep books with long words in them"(pg. 17) just so he has something to talk about. Even though Tom is married to Daisy he has an affair with Myrtle Wilson and has apartment with her in New York.. Daisy is an empty character, someone with hardly any convictions or desires. Even before her relationships with Tom or, Gatsby are seen, Daisy does nothing but sit around all day and wonder what to do with herself and her friend Jordan. She knows that Tom is having an affair, yet she doesn't leave him even when she hears about Gatsby loving her. Daisy lets Gatsby know that she too is in love with him but cant bring herself to tell Tom goodbye except when Gatsby forces her too. Even then, once Tom begs her to stay, even then Daisy forever leaves Gatsby for her old life of comfort. Daisy and Tom are perfect examples of wealth and prosperity, and the American Dream. Yet their lives are empty, and without purpose.

Though Myrtle Wilson makes an attempt to escape her own class and pursue happiness with the rich, she ends up gaining nothing and eventually dies. She is basically a victim of the group she wanted to join. Myrtle tries to become like Tom by having an affair with him and taking on his way of living, but in doing so she becomes unsatisfied with her life. Her constant clothing changes show that she is unhappy with her life, she changes personalities every time she changes her dress: "with the influence of the dress her whole personality had also undergone a change.

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The intense vitality... was converted into impressive hauteur"(pg. 35). "Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the shiftlessness of the lower orders. 'These people!

You have to keep after them all the time.'"(pg. 36). . Myrtle trys to create a new life for herself but eventually falls victim to it while trying to be someone she wasn't.

For the past five years, Gatsby sees Daisy as the perfect woman, someone that Daisy could be, "no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what man will store up in his ghostly heart"(pg. 101). Gatsby is disappointed that the woman he loves is not really who he wants her to be be. Gatsby wants a better life and he thinks he can do it if he puts his mind to it, which is also a part of the American Dream. However, Gatsby's dream collapses when he fails to win Daisy and is not accepted by the upper class. All his money cannot help him when old man Wilson fires a gun at him. Gatsby sees himself as a failure when Daisy chooses Tom instead of him.The failure of Gatsby's hoped for life relates to the failure of the American Dream. Without his dream Gatsby has nothing, nothing to keep him going, no direction, and no purpose to live.

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald shows how dreams are destroyed, no matter what the dreams consist of, money, material status, or just simply to be happy. Fitzgerald also shows that the failure of the American Dream is unavoidable in a sense that nothing can be as perfect as one could imagine. Without hopes or dreams life would be empty, as shown by Tom and the Buchanans. The American Dream is something every person works for throughout his or her life. Although the American Dream is admirable, it is impossible to achieve eternal satisfaction. The American Dream is just that, a dream.


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