Corruption of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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Corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby


      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.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Corruption of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby." 09 Dec 2016

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