The 1920’s were a decade of renaissance characterized by the establishment of the "American Dream" -- the belief that anyone can, and should, achieve material success. F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, contains themes and morals that continue to be relevant today. In his novel, Fitzgerald criticizes the American Dream by describing its negative characteristics: class struggles between the rich and the poor, the superficiality of the rich, and the false relationship between money and happiness. Furthermore, the main character also serves as a metaphor for the inevitable downfall of American Dream.
"The Great Gatsby ... describes the failure of the American dream, from the point of view that American political ideals conflict with the actual social conditions that exist. For whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people, the truth is that social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot be overcome" (Internet 1). It is impossible for all people to become rich, since material wealth is based largely on social position, and class divisions prevent the poor from becoming successful. "One thing's sure and nothing's surer / The rich get richer and the poor get -- children" (Fitzgerald 101). Myrtle's attempt to break into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed to fail. She enters into an affair with Tom, and takes on all the negative qualities of his social group; she not only becomes corrupt and immoral, but she scorns people from her own class. "I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe" (Fitzgerald 39). The adulterous behaviour of Myrtle and Tom,...
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...he American Dream of success and money is nothing more than a morally corrupt fantasy.
Fahey, William A. F. Scott Fitzgerald and The American Dream. Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1973.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Inc, 1995.
Internet 1. "http://www.uni-ulm.de/schulen/gym/sgu/gatsb/klaus2.htm". F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Home Page. "The Great Gatsby's Theme".
Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina, 1997.
Internet 2. "http://www.clunet.edu/engdept/ad/gatsby2.html". Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. "Great Gatsby: Chapters 5 - 9".
Infonautics Corporation, 1998.
Internet 3. "http://www.clunet.edu/engdept/ad/gatsby3.html". Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. "The Structure of The Great Gatsby". Infonautics Corporation, 1998.
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