Essay on Unethical Pursuit of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Essay on Unethical Pursuit of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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Within life, there are moments where one begins to question one’s ideals. Whether these beliefs are ones taught through social interaction and experience or are religious in nature, most of us, humanity, come to a time in life where one’s perception of life challenges the foundations of one’s strongest and, often times, longest held convictions. Sometimes, the questioning and examination of these convictions often lead one to a sense of disillusionment, and, in some ways, this individual analysis allows one to gain personal perspective on one’s life. In Human All-Too-Human, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies”, and, within the backdrop of the 1920’s, Fitzgerald makes abundantly clear in the text that the American dream is a conviction that so happens to be based on lies and corruption. Throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald portrays the American dream as an ideal steeped in corruption and deceit through which the attainment of material wealth and the appearance of success justify the methods by which one attains his or her idea of that fabled dream.
Though the appearance of success and happiness usually indicate what many would be tempted to call the American dream, Fitzgerald undermines such idealism by revealing the deceptive nature of Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s marriage. Not only do Tom and Daisy’s marital problems make for a compelling plot but their relationship also represents an important facet of Fitzgerald’s argument: The American dream is not what it appears to be. Nonchalantly, Jordan Baker reveals more about Daisy and Tom’s marital problems to Nick: “I thought everybody knew.” “Tom’s got some woman in New York” (15). Again, deceit appears within the Buchanan marriag...


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... dies in the corruption and deceit of its making. Fitzgerald makes evident that those who pursue the dream of attaining its brand of success, as defined by those around one, curse themselves to a life corrupted by those who pursue that same ideal. The American dream, like the conspiracy between the baseball players and gamblers involved in throwing the 1919 World Series (73), is a conviction held so strongly that those who pursue the American dream become the corruption and deceit in it or, at least, the facilitators of such unethical behavior and immorality.





Works Cited
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Human All-Too-Human. Trans. Helen Zimmern.
New York, Cambridge UP: 2002. N. pag. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Human_All-Too-Human#FIRST_DIVISION_-_First_And_Last_Things. Web. 22 June 2010
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.New York: Scribner, 2004.

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