The ethic of hard work can be found in the life of the young James Gatz. His focus on becoming a great man is thoroughly depicted in his ÒHopalong CassidyÓ journal. When Mr. Gatsby showed the tattered book to Nick, Mr. Gatsby said, ÒJimmy was bound to get ahead. He always has some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what heÕs got about improving his mind?
When Mr. Gatz shows the tattered book to Nick, he declares, ? Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always has some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he?s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that?
F. Scott Fitzgerald creates an ideal piece of literature that shows flaws, mistaken beliefs, and the ignorance of society in its belief of the American Dream. The American Dream isn’t something that one certain type of person can accomplish, it’s something that anticipated and molded by each and every person in all situations and social classes. Gatsby’s dream was not the typical American Dream, his was based on a fantasy that one could relive the past, that if he worked hard and made enough lifestyle changes he could win Daisy from Tom. Gatsby went through a remarkable alteration when changing his name from James Gatz, the lonesome soldier, to Jay Gatsby, a man of mystery and fortune. This was Gatsby’s attempt to re-invent himself and achieve his goals; showing the just how blinded he actually was to reality.
He criticizes the worsening of family structure by choosing characters that have little or no value of the bond accepted during marriage. He questions the power that accompanies wealth, and reveals the shallow values of the era. Finally, Fitzgerald denounces the pursuing of an American Dream, suggesting that it is unattainable, and merely a fantasy fuelled by the urge to fulfill it. However, he acknowledges its importance to American society. The Great Gatsby is not considered the great American novel solely because it criticizes the lifestyles of the 1920’s, instead, it can be considered a success because it reveals the true meaning of pursuing an American Dream.
Therefore he never comprehends that his strive for success and social acceptance led him to his deathbed. That is why Gatsby is a prime example of the American dream. Similarly, the theme of faulty vision is prevalent in the book. Wealth, material possessions, and power are the core values of the American dream. Gatsby did achieve the American dream but his idealistic faiths in money and life’s possibilities twisted his dreams and life into worthless existence based on falsehoods.
In America today, when the name of honor is often adulterated by glaring headlines proclaiming the guilt of an immoral politician or the fall of a disgraced executive, it is easy to forget that the country was founded for the pursuit of truth, for only in truth can people find real happiness. Thomas Jefferson famously included the pursuit happiness as an unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, but in an intimate letter to William Roscoe, a British historian, Jefferson wrote, “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.” In his flagship novel, All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren embraces the Founding Father’s principles with his characterization of both Willie Stark and Jack Burden. Warren’s novel is an American classic because it traces the lives of two lost men as each man follows his personalized compass pointing towards complete understanding. After elevating him to unprecedented heights, Willie’s interpretation of truth returns to drag him down to the Underworld.
Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, “American Dream” during the early infancy of our country, proposing this dream as, “That pursuit of a better existence … [and] a higher quality of life through hard work, determination, and devotion.” While this may be what many of the characters in The Great Gatsby believe (Jay Gatsby in particular), one critical ideal is discarded in Fitzgerald’s twisted refinement of Franklin’s definition: morality. It is apparent that Jay Gatsby achieves his wealth and social status through illegal and immoral means, such as bootlegging alcohol. The irony becomes remarkably stunning when one realizes that the section of Franklin’s autobiography, which outlines his method for achieving this dream, is entitled “Moral Perfection”. Fitzgerald presents a dark satire by portraying the immoral Jay Gatsby as an icon for the decay of the dream Franklin proposed and promoted so avidly. Fitzgerald masterfully allows the reader watch the evolution of Franklin’s American dream from its fertilization in the ambition of James Gatz to its dominance over Gatz’s life, eventually spawning Jay Gatsby (Gatz-bye) a self-destructive man holding on to a dream that can never become a reality.
It guides Gatsby to relive the dearest moment of his life, yet its indifference to his dream—the American dream—causes Gatsby’s life to crumble before his eyes. Watching all of this is Nick Carraway, and his fluctuating narration reflects Fitzgerald’s idea that fulfillment cannot be controlled. Nick embodies friendship, inconsistency, and a lack of drive. His capability of friendship and inconsistency as a narrator represents something inherently human about him. He carries the fascination and wonder of all mankind, yet his failure to pursue a dream is unnerving.
Nick laments that Gatsby “did not know that [his dream] was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city” (Fitzgerald 180), concluding the futility of the American dream. In the last few pages of the book, through Nick’s reflections upon Gatsby’s life and the people in it, Fitzgerald reveals corrupt “valley of ashes” America has become, no longer allowing her to hide behind her veneer of glitz and glamour. Fitzgerald reinforces the hollowness of the 1920’s and the destructiveness of blindly pursuing the “American dream” and the false happiness it brings. Instead, revealing the unpleasant truth. The Great Gatsby is a story of the double-edged sword that is the “American dream”; while elevating society and bringing happiness, it also self-destructs and brings materialism and corruption.
Nick, the narrator, tells Gatsby’s story to paint a picture of an American Dream and how it becomes so crucial to accomplish a certain part of the dream that one becomes careless; which leads into other outside ambitions that alter the dream and which is therefore never accomplished. Nick summarizes this by saying “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (189). This quote is most significant because it sums up the book and how it can be applied to Gatsby’s life and the life of numerous others. It says “we” are like boats beating against the current meaning that people struggle to prosper for a dream but never truly achieve happiness. Although people to some extent do prosper they desire more and more that ultimately forget, dim or glorify the purpose of the dream and that leads t them into never attaining happiness.