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The American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

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The American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

The 1920's were a time of parties, drinking and having nothing but fun. Many aspired to be rich and prosperous and longed to be a part of the upper class. Although this was the dream for many Americans of this time, it seemed almost impossible to become a part of this social class unless born into it. Even those who worked hard to become successful and support themselves and their families were not accepted into this elite group of men and women, despite the fact that they too most likely had everything. This was a running theme of this decade and only a few people knew how impossible this dream was. Although some could accomplish rising to the top, they still could not achieve true happiness. F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of these wise people and in The Great Gatsby he satirizes the American Dream by creating characters from new money, old money and the working class, who all fail miserably in achieving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The new money of the New York area mostly settled in West Egg, Long Island. This is where Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, and Jay Gatsby live. Gatsby is a self-made man who "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself" (95). Nick describes him as a man invented like that which a "seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end" (95). This idea of a self-made man was very popular in this era. Many people, especially from the lower social classes, wanted more than anything to become rich and part of the upper society. In Gatsby's case, his motivation is Daisy, a girl from Louisville with whom he fell in love. When Gatsby realized that he wasn't good enough for her because s...

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...ly belongs. She can never truly leave this place and what's even more ironic, she is killed by what she craves acceptance from and longs to be apart of, the aristocracy.

Society during the 1920's was masked by drinking, parties and extravagant wastefulness of money, but underneath there was misery throughout all the classes. Despite the variety of income, inheritance and economics, "there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well" and many men of this time were sick with depression (118). Fitzgerald makes it seem as though it was practically impossible to be happy during these times as no one could get what he or she really wanted. He describes this era in a cynical way but is historically accurate, and effectively depicts the misery of the decade and the failure to achieve the American Dream.