Essay on The American Dream : No Chance For Real Social Mobility

Essay on The American Dream : No Chance For Real Social Mobility

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The American Dream is an integral part of the American Mythos. Politicians have debated for centuries its status. Is it alive? Dead? They cannot tell because since the birth of America in 1776 it has been a futile. New York in the 1920’s is the greatest example of this false sense of optimism. Everyone was successful. Everyone had money. This phony sense of wealth and success was the product of large swaths of people buying stock on credit. They used fake money to buy more intangible capital. It was all artificial and bound to come crashing down. There was no chance for real social mobility. One had success for a fleeting second and then it was gone. Myrtle Wilson grasps for this false sense of hope. She is stuck in a broken marriage, dire economic straits and a less than ideal living situation. Then she meets Tom Buchanan, the handsome son of old money and begins an affair. Similar to how so many in 20’s sought success through false money she seeks success through false love. She naively believes she can advance economically through her relationship with Tom. Myrtle realizes much too late that her attempts to travel the economic ladder are for naught. In the Great Gatsby Fitzgerald uses Myrtle Wilson as a metaphor for the futility of the American Dream.
Myrtle Wilson is like so many other women during the Prohibition Era. She seeks success. She yearns for love and wants to emulate the famous women in magazines. Myrtle’s affair provides her a special economic opportunity. Myrtle uses Tom’s money in an attempt to become these women. However, she can never truly be them. “Her Face… contained no facet or gleam or beauty” (25). The women in the magazines have “Beauty”. Their physical gifts are innate. They are born into “beauty” and ...


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...she emulates women in media. However, she misunderstands that the traits that make them famous are not learned and bought but innate. She cannot fake their beauty. Her death is in vain. Tom uses her demise to manipulate her husband for his own gains. Myrtle dies because she buys into the false dream that is fed to her by Tom. She clings to it and her stubborn resolve to not give up on it is her undoing. The rich and wealthy elite delude the poor into believing this false dream. They give them hope so they do not realize the innate injustice of the American system. Fitzgerald wants people to see the inequality of the American system through Myrtle. He uses Myrtle to dissuade others from seeking in vain the false American Dream. The American people must create a new system if they do not want to repeat the mistakes of Myrtle. Until that day the American Dream is futile.

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