American Dream Derailed in The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman Essay

American Dream Derailed in The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman Essay

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The American dream originated when immigrants came to America searching for new opportunities and a better life. In the early 1900’s all people could do is dream; however, those dreams gave many different meanings to the phrase “American dream”, and for the most part, wealth and hard work play a very large role in the pursuit of “the dream”. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, and Arthur Miller’s drama, Death of a Salesman, both protagonists, Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman, are convinced that the way to achieve a better life is by living the “American dream”. However, the dream does not end up successfully for these two characters. In fact, their ideals and hopes of rising to success cause their American dream to take a turn into a nightmare.
Although it may seem as if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is portraying a romantic relationship between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, a woman he meets and falls in love with in Louisville while training to be an officer, the novel portrays the wealth and materialistic culture in the 1920’s. The more luxury and the more things a person can show off, the more accomplished and successful the person felt. In the roaring twenties, having a family, cars, and luxury was what people would pursue in life but for others, that was not enough.
Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, is not necessarily looking to live the dream but to become successful in business. After World War I, Nick decides to move to Long Island, New York, better known as the “West Egg”. He rents a cottage and ends up living next door to the extravagantly wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby. In the twenties, people trying to become successful by hard work were obsessed with their social class statuses....


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"Death of a Salesman." Shmoop. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. .
"The Demise of the 1920s American Dream in The Great Gatsby." – InfoRefuge.com. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. .
"The Great Gatsby Setting." Shmoop. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. .
"Lessons in Unmanliness: Willy Loman." Character Analysis of Willy Loman From Death of Salesman. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. .
Moseley, Merritt. “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.” The American Dream. Ed, Blake Hobby. New York: Info Rose Publishing, 2009, 47-55

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