F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - Corruption of the American Dream

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - Corruption of the American Dream

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Jay Gatsby is a man with a dream and will stop at nothing to attain it.  When he loses the love of his life to a wealthy, sophisticated and bigoted socialite, his mind is set.  Born a poor farm boy, he centers his life around achieving extraordinarily vast amounts of wealth and great social status.  The poor man never gets the girl; in fact, he never gets anything in Gatsby's eyes.  Gatsby is determined not only to be rich, but become the richest man who ever lived.  When he does become the richest man who ever lived, he wants to become the ultimate ruler of the universe.  Gatsby wants to be God.  Nick Carraway, his laid-back and observant neighbor, despises Gatsby's flamboyant and exaggerated ways.  However, he comes to admire Gatsby because of his unending optimism and his ongoing pursuit of making his dreams become reality.  To many, Gatsby can be seen as the ultimate symbol of the greatness of the American dream.  However, Gatsby is really the ultimate symbol of the ridiculous excess and waste of wealthy American socialites, which Carraway is so opposed to.  Nowhere but in America is everything and anything possible, and nowhere but in America can the attainment of excessive frivolity be seen as admirable, even heroic.  From his pathetic attempts to fake fate to his almost childlike whims of knowing no limit, Gatsby is not a symbol of the greatness of the American dream, but a mere parody of it.

            First of all, Gatsby is not admirable because he refuses to be himself.  Perhaps he wasn't meant to be a farmer or a pauper, however, Gatsby will never be the Rhett Butler he parades himself around to be.  "His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people - his imagination had never really accepted them as his pa...


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            True success cannot be measured in monetary terms but through knowledge, wisdom and finding one's true self.  In this sense, Gatsby failed miserably.  Although he was tremendously optimistic and pursued his dreams, he represented America at its’ worst: unnatural, overly extravagant, distasteful, and pathetic.  Gatsby is not admirable because the way he led his life was a mockery to mankind.  The beauty of striving for one's dreams is found in the self-discipline and work required – there is little merit in lavishly rewarding yourself for a goal achieved.  Gatsby had no morals, no sense of self, and in truth, he had no life.  He had only his money, his dreams, and his “make believe” reality.  The Great Gatsby represents the complete corruption of the American dream.

Works Cited:

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

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