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The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

The American Dream is deeply rooted in American ideals. It implies that an individual's determination is the deciding factor in the accumulation of wealth, freedom, and total happiness. It creates an equal ground on which anyone and everyone can attain spiritual and material fulfillment. "Although these ideals can be traced back to the original settlers, perhaps one of the earliest written manifestations of the Dream can be found in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence" (Spindler 41). The Declaration of Independence promises the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to all American citizens. Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is both a qualification and a condemnation of these values; although American democracy is based on the concept of equality, in reality social discrimination and divisions of class are not so easily overcome. The behavior of Fitzgerald's upper classes is also a comment on the failure of the American Dream: "their decadence and carelessness show how material success has destroyed spiritual life" (Posnock 207...

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Posnock, Ross. "'A New World, Material Without Being Real': Fitzgerald's Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby." Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby." Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 201-13.

Sklar, Robert. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967.

Spindler, Michael. American Literature and Social Change. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983.

Trilling, Lionel. "F. Scott Fitzgerald." Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby." Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 13-20.
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