The American Dream in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The 1920’s was a time of great change to both the country lived in as well as the goals and ambitions that were sought after by the average person. During this time, priorities shifted from family and religion to success and spontaneous living. The American dream, itself, changed into a self centered and ongoing personal goal that was the leading priority in most people’s lives. This new age of carelessness and naivety encompasses much of what this earlier period is remembered for. In addition, this revolution transformed many of the great writers and authors of the time as well as their various works. The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, perfectly symbolizes many emergent trends of the 1920’s. More importantly the character of Jay Gatsby is depicted as a man amongst his American dream and the trials he faces in the pursuit of its complete achievement. His drive for acquiring the girl of his dreams, Daisy Buchanan, through gaining status and wealth shows many aspects of the authors view on the American dream. Through this, one can hope to disassemble the complex picture that is Fitzgerald’s view of this through the novel. Fitzgerald believes, through his experiences during the 1920’s, that only fractions of the American Dream are attainable, and he demonstrates this through three distinct images in The Great Gastby.

The image of parties throughout The Great Gastby represents Fitzgerald’s belief that the American dream is only attainable in parts. These parties represent Gatsby’s grasp of superior status, which was part of his original goal to get Daisy back. To do this, however, he could not just hold a simple get-together. Gatsby had to throw the most outlandish and lavish party in town in hopes that Dai...

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.... (Parkinson 96) This kind of so-called rebellious lifestyle encompasses a part of Gatsby; the part that put ultimate wealth as a life goal and as a way to Daisy. This depiction of Gatsby’s battle for the girl proves that Fitzgerald’s view towards wealth had to have been influenced by the time period he lived in. It also demonstrates the emptiness of values and morals that were so common amongst the majority of the population at that time. This lifestyle spread like a virus to most people because it promised a happy life while being the social norm at the time. It not only included wealth as a goal but sex and women played a crucial role in the average American dream during the 1920’s. For, “wealth and sex are closely related in this vicious and greedy world of plunder, which renders life meaningless by denying any altruism in human endeavor” (Parkinson 110).
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