Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity by Roland Marchand

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The American Dream is a concept that has been wielded in American Literature since its beginnings. The ‘American Dream’ ideal follows the life of an ordinary man wanting to achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The original goal of the American dream was to pursue freedom and a greater good, but throughout time the goals have shifted to accumulating wealth, high social status, etc. As such, deplorable moral and social values have evolved from a materialistic pursuit of happiness. In “Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity”, Roland Marchand describes a man that he believed to be the prime example of a 1920’s man. Marchand writes, “Not only did he flourish in the fast-paced, modern urban milieu of skyscrapers, taxicabs, and pleasure- seeking crowds, but he proclaimed himself an expert on the latest crazes in fashion, contemporary lingo, and popular pastimes.” (Marchand) This description shows material success as the model for the American Dream. In his novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald reveals the characterization of his characters through the use of symbols and motifs to emphasize the corruption of the American Dream. The eyes of T J Eckleburg represent the loss of moral and social values in America, the hollowness of the American Dream, and the corruption of people. T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes stare down at everyone around them, including the main characters that pass by it on their trips to New York City. In this way, the symbol of the eyes reveals the corruption of the American Dream through the people that the eyes are watching. The eyes ‘watch’ as Gatsby goes to luncheon with Nick to meet Wolfshiem, the dishonest man who helped fix the World Series. The eyes too have watched Tom go into the city... ... middle of paper ... ...m that was based more on wealth and possessions and less on hard work and achievement. The fact that he later rebelled against the material 1920s culture shows that he was in fact cautioning against this lifestyle rather than encouraging it.” This more than anything proves Fitzgerald is making a commentary on the corruption of the American Dream rather than simply the tale of wealthy lovers. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print. Bewley, Marius. "Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America." The Sewanee Review 62.2 (1954): 223-46. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. "The Demise of the 1920s American Dream in The Great Gatsby –" Info Refuge. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014 Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity. Los Angeles: University of California P.

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