The Emptiness of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby Essay

The Emptiness of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby Essay

Length: 1122 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Jay Gatsby’s sole purpose in life is to achieve the American Dream: to become a land owner, married to the love of his life, who live in comfort and abundance. However, he never gets everything he wants as his love for Daisy is not as fully reciprocated as he wishes it to be. His dream, and the one Nick pursues as well, are only dreams in the end. The culture of the time only gives empty fulfillment with no real substance. The people, like their dreams, are only illusions of what they want to be.
Gatsby’s life after the war is his search for his American Dream, which, in his eyes, culminates in Daisy. Nick observes that Gatsby “found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail” (149). Fitzgerald chooses to compare Gatsby’s quest for Daisy to that of a quest for the Holy Grail as they are equally futile. The Holy Grail and the American Dream both do not exist and so Gatsby is chasing an imagined idea. Thus, his quest is for something not grounded in reality. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy is based on false pretenses as he “had deliberately given daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself—that he was fully able to take care of her” (149). At the foundation their “love” is based on falsehoods, and so their love is, perhaps, doomed from the beginning since it has begun in a dream state as well. Gatsby’s father, Mr. Gatz, believed in the American Dream and is as naïve as his son. He says, “Jimmy was bound to get ahead” (173), as if it was Gatsby’s right do so as a pragmatic person. His pragmatism does get him his job with Wolfsheim, an example of an incredibly pragmatic man, and thus gets him his wealth. However, the time he lost in attaining his riches was ...


... middle of paper ...


...k seems to realize how deplorable and synthetic his friends from his summer on Long Island actually are. When he encounters Tom, he refuses to shake his hand and says to him “‘You know what I think of you” (178). He sees through everyone’s affectation and realizes how perverse their behavior was. He also abandons the East and moves back west because he has discovered that his dreams can never be accomplished and thus resolves everyone’s hopes. In the world of Gatsby achieving the Dream is impossible unless one is to abandon all sense of propriety and become as “careless”, cruel, and essentially empty as Tom and Daisy.


Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
Turner, Fredrick J. "Turner: The Frontier In American History." Turner: The Frontier In American History. University of Virginia, 30 Sept. 1997. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

- We all have dreams that we fantasize so much that they may be in contrast to reality. We have all experienced the utter disappointment of having the harsh reality of the world make itself known to us. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald presents us Nick Caraway, a meek Midwesterner both intrigued and repulsed by the roaring extravagance of the East in the 1920s. Nick’s enthusiasm and confidence to establish a successful life in New York is betrayed when he experiences the underlying emptiness and corruption to the morality of the upper class forcing him to reconsider his adaptability to this modern lifestyle....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
988 words (2.8 pages)

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

- The Corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the corruption of the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to attain its illusionary goals. As the novel shows, the 20th century is a moral wasteland and a corruption of the original idealistic American Dream of the past. Fitzgerald's moral wasteland is shown physically in the "valley of ashes" scene of the novel. This 'dismal' and 'desolate' wasteland exists side-by-side with the white and unreal dream of Daisy and her world....   [tags: The Great Gatsby]

Strong Essays
513 words (1.5 pages)

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

- Death of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby The American Dream embodies the belief that each person can succeed in life on the basis of his own skills and effort. This idea awakes and develops during the 18th and 19th centuries - a period of fast development in the United States. The issues of growth, progress and money become a major theme in American society, which is why Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby focuses on this problem. Through the characters Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, the author impressively presents a failure in achieving this dream....   [tags: Great Gatsby Essays]

Free Essays
813 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

- “The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work, not by chance. Both native-born Americans and American immigrants pursue and can achieve the American dream” (Investopedia 2014). This deceiving passage sends hopeful words to the population of the United States as if pursuing the dream can give anyone a contented life from hard work, as their stepping stones to success. In the 1920’s the corruption of the American Dream is incorporated in most of the characters in the novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), by F....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1777 words (5.1 pages)

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

- In the novel The Great Gatsby, the 1920’s was a “throwaway culture, in which things (and people) are used and then abandoned” (Evans). This is true of the lives of the wealthy elite who ruled the East and West Eggs, causing the domination of materialistic thought. The substitution of money for integrity ultimately provided a way for corruption to take deep roots in the characters. The frivolous lives and relationships described by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby depict the emptiness of the shallow 1920’s era....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1235 words (3.5 pages)

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

- Blinded by Dreams “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man 's needs, but not every man 's greed.” As humans, we work countless hours in order to have a greater opportunity to succeed in life to fulfill our wants. F Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, utilizes effective language and punctuation in the text in order to accomplish his purpose: Illustrate what material goods does to a society. From a rhetorical standpoint, examining logos, ethos, and pathos, this novel serves as a social commentary on how pursuing the “The American Dream” causes people in society to transform into greedy and heartless individuals....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
825 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

- In The Great Gatsby, many characters reveal their forgetfulness of the wonder of life through their broken relationship with nature, their fellow human beings, and God. Gatsby 's relationship with nature is brutal; nature to him is worthless. When Gatsby is speaking to Mr. Carraway he states, “This is a valley of ashes – ... where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air"()....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1112 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Jay Gatsby’s Dangerous Illusions in The Great Gatsby

- Jay’s Dangerous Illusions in The Great Gatsby         America is a land of opportunity and hopes and dreams can become reality. The "American Dream" consists of the notion that the struggling poor can achieve financial success through hard work. F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, puts this premise to the test while also warning against the dangers of believing too passionately in any dream. The central character, Jay Gatsby, "proves a tragic hero who succeeds financially but fails emotionally when he attempts to hold onto something from the past"(Mizener 126).   Gatsby not only possesses imaginative dreams, but also idealistic illusions....   [tags: The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Strong Essays
1256 words (3.6 pages)

The Great Gatsby Essay

- I. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, born in St. Paul, Minnesota, grew up in an upper-middle class family where he enjoyed the traditions of the upper classes, but not the financial ability to uphold those practices. Fitzgerald acquired his fame, almost overnight, with the publication of his first book, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. His extensive career began with the writing of stories for mass-circulation magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post. That same year, he married Zelda Sayre, who later became one his major influences on his writing, along with literature, Princeton, and alcohol....   [tags: The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Free Essays
2131 words (6.1 pages)

The Search for Utopia in The Great Gatsby Essay

-   In Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the reader discovers multiple interpretations of utopia. Each character is longing for one particular paradise. Only one character actually reaches utopia, and the arrival is a mixed blessing at best. The concept of paradise in The Great Gatsby is “a shifting, evanescent illusion of happiness, joy, love, and perfection, a mirage that leads each character to reach deeper, look harder, strive farther”(Lehan, 57). All the while, time pulls each individual farther from the moment he seeks....   [tags: The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Strong Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)