The American Dream in The Great Gatsby and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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One of the greatest classic novels in American history, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, lends itself to be an indispensible literary work that reinforces and challenges the core values and ideals that Benjamin Franklin expresses in his Autobiography. In the provided passage, the young Franklin arrives in Philadelphia in hopes of becoming a new self-made man and begins his journey with little money and few resources much like Gatsby. After arriving by boat, he tries to pay the people of the boat for his voyage but his payment is initially refused because he rowed the boat in order to get to Philadelphia. Franklin insists that they take his payment and says “A man is sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.” Eager to make a good first impression on the people of Philadelphia, Franklin attempts to establish that he is of substantial wealth that he is capable of paying for his own fare even if it is not required. Upon walking into town, he becomes hungry and inquires a boy about the location of the nearest bakery. Franklin proceeds to walk into the bakery asking for a biscuit then discovers that they are not made in Philadelphia, so he asks for a three-penny loaf. Once again, he does not receive a three-penny loaf but instead is given “three great puffy rolls.” Surprised by the amount of bread he obtains for a few pennies, Franklin eats one of them and walks into a Quakers meeting-house. After sitting down for a short period of time, he falls asleep during the meeting but is kindly woken afterwards without a word of complaint. Ben Franklin’s account of his first day in Philadelphia is a success story of one man’s attempt to captur...

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...ricans once believed as the definition of their identity. It follows the life of one man who shares that same dream that Benjamin Franklin believed in when he first arrived in Philadelphia to make a living as new man. Jay Gatsby however fails and is eventually dies in pursuing his dreams because his dreams are unrealistic and the eventual goal of his dream is tainted by selfishness and greed. Fitzgerald helps readers understand that even in time of prosperity like the Roaring Twenties, the famous America concept of becoming rich and famous can be a fruitless chase that only leads to disappointment and sorrow. Fitzgerald concludes the novel on a positive note, however, by applauding the tenacity of mankind to ceaselessly pursue our dreams and by providing a little bit of hope that maybe one day, every American citizen will be able to realize their own American Dream.

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