Great Gatsby’s Commentary on the American Dream

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There are times when reality falls short of expectations, and when individuals fail to live up to their ideals. This struggle can come in the form of one specific event, or an overall life philosophy. The quest to attain what we really want can be an all encompassing one, requiring all of our devotion and effort. It is especially painful to see others possess what we cannot have. For the characters in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby these problems are all too real. Gatsby works for a lifetime to gain back what he feels is rightfully his, while all the while facing the crushing realization that he may be too late. Fitzgerald uses this futile search to introduce the idea that the idealized America Gatsby fought for has been corrupted over time. Descriptions of a land of picket fences and middle class freedom is exchanged for one based on greed and lies, where characters with stop at nothing to attain what they desire. Fitzgerald provides a window into the American Dream, and shows that it has become one based on immorality and deception.

Although the marriage of Daisy and Tom Buchanan may have been based on love and devotion, it, like the American Dream as a whole, has been corrupted to become disingenuous and predatory. Tom and Daisy are two people who are content with the somewhat platonic relationship they share, acquiring children as displays of their affection, like a diamond necklace, rather than in the interest of really starting a family. One of the first indications that readers get that the marriage is unhealthy is when Tom interrupts dinner to take a call from his mistress. This event fails to cause a stir in the household, and is merely brushed off by Jordan, who finds fault with the annoying time of the interruption...

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...acters of the East and their careless and senseless ways of living.

Fitzgerald uses his work to provide a social commentary on the nature of America and the condition of the American Dream as it pertains to society in the 1920’s. By using characters like Nick as outsiders to the Eastern world of wealth and sophistication, he is able to provide readers a glimpse into the glamorous life that the Buchanans lead, yet also reveal their faults. The inclusion of Gatsby also aids in the creation of the image of the American Dream as one grounded in lies and infidelity. Where some may see the promise of America to be the ability to gain a large estate on Long Island, Fitzgerald shows that this is not enough, that the true dream is the ability to not care about the messes one makes, and to be able to leave them to someone else to be cleaned up.

Works Cited

Great Gatsby
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