The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Novel The Great Gatsby

The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Novel The Great Gatsby

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The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Novel The Great Gatsby

Since July 4, 1776 Americans have had the opportunity to pursue whatever they can think of. This has given the people the opportunity to become whatever they want. A person who works hard can become successful; this is what the American Dream is centered around. A person who is a hard worker and persistent can reach any goal he strives for. The American Dream changed as America did. People became more and more infatuated with possessions. The characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby each work for their own American Dream.

Jay Gatsby, the central character of the novel, has worked from nothing to become a very successful man. Jay is successful in the meaning that he is very rich and has everything most of the people in the novel would want. This is not what Jay is striving for though. Jay doesn’t care about the money, cars, and enormous house he has. Love is Jay’s goal, he worked for all the wealth and popularity to get to the love of his life, Daisy. Daisy is a woman that Jay had a love affair with when he was younger, but he could never have her because he was not in her social class. Jay then began to do anything to get the money that it would take to get in her class, even illegal activities. Once he reached this level of wealth, he moved close to Daisy to try to get her. “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay”(83). The only thing that really mattered to Jay was Daisy. To try to meet Daisy, Jay threw enormous parties. He finally reunites with Daisy and he begins to show off how rich he is to try to impress her. Jay is convinced that Daisy is now in love with him, and is willing to do anything for her. Even after she kills a woman with his car, he says he will said he take the blame. In pursuit of his dream, Jay ends up being killed. Jay’s American Dream may seem to be one filled with riches and possessions, but it really isn’t. He works for all the things for his one true dream, Daisy, a goal that he never could have possessed.

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Love can’t be achieved because of wealth or Jay died striving for his success, but never gave up his integrity or morals for it.

Unlike Jay Tom Buchanan is a man that has no dream. Tom Buchanan is Daisy’s husband. Tom is a very wealthy man, but has inherited it all and does not work. He sits around, and plays polo and collects cars. The rest of his time he spends having an affair. Tom does not try to keep this affair a big secret; she even calls him at home. It doesn’t matter to Tom if anyone knows or not. Because of his money, he has become an arrogant, unkind man. He doesn’t worry about anyone else’s feeling than his own. He doesn’t care about Daisy or he wouldn’t have an affair. He doesn’t care about the woman he is having an affair with because once he broke her nose for saying something he didn’t like. Tom even had a part in Jay being killed. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….” (188). Tom’s lack of a dream made his life meaningless. Tom had everything he could every want right from the beginning. He had nothing to work for. This made Tom’s life pointless. Life is all about the working toward a dream. His wealth corrupted him and he had no compassion for what he had done.

Daisy is a mix between Jay and Tom. Daisy has a dream, her dream is to be truly loved, and she isn’t getting that from Tom. She married Tom just for his money. But Daisy also wants all the popularity and wealth that she has with Tom. She knows she can’t have both, and is torn between these two desires. She knows about Tom’s affair but ignores them fearing she may lose her rich lifestyle. Daisy may love Jay, but it doesn’t matter, because of her obsession with keeping the life she has. She fears that expressing her love for Jay may put it all at risk. Daisy is never truly happy, but happiness is very important to her. Daisy’s life is filled with boredom where she wonders what will happen next. She has a daughter, but treats her as a toy. “And I hope she’ll be a fool-that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”(21). Daisy wants her daughter to not be as smart as her, so she can go through life oblivious to what is happening. Daisy doesn’t want her to know the kind of pain she is feeling. Daisy wants love so bad, but can’t ever get it because of her fears. She is afraid of losing the life she loves.

The American Dream can mean different things to different people. Some people look for love, some for money, others for fame, or maybe something different. Their success comes in how and if they reach these goals. Some people have everything they think they want, but their lives are miserable. They have nothing to dream about, but dreaming is what makes life worth living. The American Dream can’t be based on possessions; there has to be more to it than that. The American Dream can’t be put in one sentence, because it means something different to everyone. Jay worked hard but never reached his goal. Tom never had a dream to try to fulfill and that made his life miserable. Daisy had a dream, and could have reached out and grabbed it, but was to afraid to. Fitzgerald may be portraying in this book is that the American Dream may be exactly that, a dream. No one can ever reach it, but if they do it is not all its cracked up to be.
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