Javier Cebollada Desentre
Professor Mónica Calvo
Literatura Norteamericana III
June 13, 2014
The falling off The Great Gatsby’s American Dream
One of the most notable elements in Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is the conception of the American Dream; a well-known term whose appearance is very present throughout the story. Despite being a non-mentioned term in the novel itself, the author still conveys the idea of the American Dream through the employment of a brilliant sociological approach. Yet, although there is not any consistent or universal definition, the idea of American Dream might have different meanings to different people and its achievement is what most Americans have looked for through history. It could be considered as an idea of one’s own prosperity and happiness, with some common factors as hard work, good ethics and equality for all. In fact, these general factors may not be very clear for the reader when penetrating into the cultural and historical context of the novel, due to its constant evolution through history. In this text the purpose of the essay is to analyze Fitzgerald’s conception of “this” American
Dream, finding out in what manner this conception has evolved or changed, and having a look in the way it is represented on the main character, Jay Gatsby, who apparently achieves that dream of becoming a wealthy man, but at the same time fails to reach
Daisy’s love, giving some similarities between the author and the construction of the novel. Given the historical situation the reader is then obliged to delve into America’s
The Jazz Age of the 1920’s, a post-war and chaotic period in which American society was being transformed, a time of moral decay, loss of old values, where corruption was the order of the day. All these elements are going to be reflected in relation with the pursuit of success. This transformation is a sort of degradation of ethical values where morality is no longer possible. Besides, this period full of sumptuous parties, clandestine alcohol, and entertainment with lack of morality was the perfect scenario in which the same Scott Fitzgerald would be moving himself. He took part in the moral decadence which is criticized in his books. Apart from that, it should be noted the fact
that Fitzgerald was one of those writers who belonged to the “Lost Generation” characterized for that sense of loss of faith and hope in humanity.
Therefore, the reader can find more similarities between his life and novel than those who apparently seem to be. Among all these similarities, there are some more relevant (I'm not going to mention all the similarities because it would take me another essay). For instance the setting of the novel, more concretely Great Neck, was one of the many areas where Fitzgerald partly lived, and it served as an inspiration to locate the map of the novel. Another aspect was his extravagant lifestyle; alcohol had become a major part of how Fitzgerald lived his life, and it is shown in the novel throughout the lavish parties at Gatsby’s house, who is so obsessed with this materialistic vision of luxurious dependencies which surround him that he does not realize these things cannot bring him love or happiness. This deals in depth with the concept of Materialism. The hard work and good ethics is replaced here by immoral activities which lead to the quickly increasing of material possessions; and the social decadence of moral values can be easily tangible.
But probably, the most influential aspect which embraces the whole novel is an anecdote which happened to Fitzgerald. There was a girl called Ginevra King; she was considered F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first love, and it is told that Ginevra’s father once told
Fitzgerald, “Poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls” (Mangum). This phrase is going to be reflected very deeply into the novel's argument, a question of class equality. Gatsby comes from humble origins, and he has turned himself into…