Corruption of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Length: 620 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
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The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald embodies may themes, however
the most salient one relates to the corruption of the American Dream. The
American Dream is that each person no matter who he or she is can become
successful in life by his or her own hard work. The dream also embodies
the idea of a self-sufficient man, an entrepreneur making it successful for
himself. The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American dream in
the 1920s, a time period when the dream had been corrupted by the
avaricious pursuit of wealth. The American dream is sublime motivation for
accomplishing ones goals and producing achievements, however when tainted
with wealth the dream becomes devoid and hollow.
When the American dream was pure, motivation and ambition were some
key aspects of the pure American dream. "He stretched out his arms toward
the dark water in a curious way...and distinguished nothing except a single
green light"(page.26). It shows how Gatsby was striving for the his goal
and trying to accomplish it. When the dream was pure, motivation and
self-discipline were present. This quote talks about Gatsby's daily agenda
and how in the earlier days he upheld the pure American Dream "No wasting
time at Shafters, No more smoking or chewing, Read one improving book or
magazine per week, Save $3.00 per week, Be better to parents" (page 181-
182). Nick says "I became aware of the old island here that flowered once
for Dutch sailors' eyes-a fresh green breast of the new world"(page 189).
This quote shows the pristine goals of where the possibilities were endless
and one could accomplish anything through hard work.
The American dream became corrupted, its main aims were wealth and
power. Gatsby became corrupted because his main goal was to have Daisy.
The only reason he want Daisy was that she symbolized wealth and took on
the characteristics of money. "Her voice is full of money"(page127).
Gatsby needed to have an enormous mansion so he could feel confident enough
to try to win Daisy. " That huge place over there? Do you like it? I love
it" (page95). The tainted dream was so empty that having accouterments of
wealth could even incite feelings of love.
"He's the man who fixed the
World Series back in 1919" ( page 78). The dream became so focused on
money that any means of a obtaining it were condoned, even if it were
Result of American dream being corrupted is that the motivation and
ambition were gone and the dream is left with the pursuit of an empty goal.
This is displayed when Daisy says "Do you always watch for the longest day
of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the
year and miss it." This quote shows the lack of motivation and meaningless
to which the empty rich society has turned to. Another result of this
corrupted dream is that the dearth of the idea that each person no matter
who he or she is can become successful in life by his or her own hard work.
This ignorance is shone when Tom says "The idea is if we don't look out the
white race will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's
been proved" (page 17).
Ignorance and the ideal of looking out for oneself is prevalent. Where as
in the pure American Dream striving to accomplish ones' own personal goal
is ones main focus.
One should use the American Dream for motivation and hope that one
can achieve ones personal goal. The American Dream should not be centered
on money and other materialistic things but on a real goal.