Ambition and the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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During the 1920's America was a country of great ambition,

despair and disappointment. The novel The Great Gatsby is

a reflection of this decade, it illustrates the burning passion

one man has toward his "American Dream" and the different

aspects of the dream. Fitzgerald's work is a reflection of

America during his lifetime. The Great Gatsby shows the

ambition of one man's reach for his "American Dream," the

disappointment of losing this dream and the despair of his

loss. America, 1920, the ambition in people soared; the

American people knew that if they tried they could succeed.

With the introduction flappers and the women's liberation

movement nothing was impossible to achieve. James Gatz,

"[. . .] the man who gives his name to this book [. . .]"

(Fitzgerald 2) had this ambition in him too. He was a man

who fought long and hard to earn his place in the world as

Jay Gatsby. He had dreamed of transforming himself from

the poor, young man that he was into the wealthy celebrity

searching for love that he would soon become. Gatsby, as a

child, had a daily schedule that he followed. He knew from

childhood that he had to work for his fame. "Jimmy was

bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this

or something" (175). Gatsby's ambition lay not only in his

future, but as he grew older it would be found in his love. He

had an obsession with Daisy Buchanan and tried everything

in his power to bring things back to they way they used to be

when they first met. He thought he could relive the past. He

threw lavish parties to get her attention, he did everything in

his power to be near her. " ‘Gatsby bought that house so

that Daisy would be just across the bay' " (79) He earned his

wealth so that they could finally be together. Like Gatsby,

the American people of the 1920's followed their hearts, and

had an ambition stronger than anything. Through World War

One, American men that fought to save their country and

woman fought to win the right to vote. Even in fashion

women were liberated, as the hemline on an average skirt

was raised. The ambition held in this country during this time

period was what built the society, much like Gatsby's

ambition which built and shaped his future with Daisy. Along

with the ambition of a country and a man in the 1920's, there

was also disappointment. America suffered the great crash

of the stock market which left many Americans pennyless.

This disappointment in America was also what lead to the
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