Period 2; AP English
Gatsby Paper The “Roaring 20s,” was a time of great economic prosperity in American cities. This era was a massive cultural change compared to previous decades. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The
Great Gatsby” during this era, however it was not successful until after Fitzgerald’s death. “The
Great Gatsby” explores this decade following the story of Jay Gatsby through Nick Carraway’s point of view and during this novel the American dream is greatly explored. Throughout “The
Great Gatsby” Fitzgerald demonstrates the illusion of the American Dream through his major and minor characters and the various settings.
The characters that Fitzgerald develops throughout the novel help to affirm the illusion of the American dream. Tom Buchanan believes that he has natural superiority because of his family and his past. However, when Tom is presented as “the polo player” to the guests at
Gatsby’s party, he objects quickly, stating “oh no, not me.” Although Tom does not work hard for his money, he would like people to believe he does. He does not want to be known as “the polo player” because he would “rather look at all these famous people inin oblivion.” In relation to those around him, he would like to forget about his status. This shows the illusion of the
American dream by suggesting that although the wealthy often do not acquire their status by hard work, they would like to be viewed as such, or nothing at all.
Jay Gatsby also plays a major role in demonstrating the illusion of the American dream.
In order to achieve prosperity and success, James Gatz transforms into Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby often lies to make his past life seem more glamorous than reality. He presents himself to Nick as
“the son of some wealthy people in the the Middle West,” and also states that “he was educated
at Oxford.” These lies show that Gatsby believes he must create a façade to impress others, due to his early life. He does not want to be thought of as obtaining his money through illegal affairs, because subconsciously he knows that this is looked down upon. Although Gatsby would like to believe in the American dream, his character shows the illusion of the said “national ethos.”
Daisy was a principal part of the “American dream” that Gatsby wanted to achieve, however when Daisy did not choose him, he was forced to see the harsh reality of the country, and the illusion of the American dream. George Wilson also helps to exemplify the illusion of the American dream. Unlike Jay
Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, Wilson obtains his small amount of money through hard work and legal means. He inquires what Tom was going to do with his old car because he “needs money pretty bad.” Wilson will work hard to achieve greatness, however he is only rewarded with his,
Gatsby’s, and Myrtle's, death. Although Tom and Daisy caused this, they just “retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together...” Wilson and those alike have to pay for Tom and Daisy’s mistakes. This shows the illusion of the American dream at this time by demonstrating the idea that the upper class members who inherited their wealth get to live whatever life they please, doing whatever they want, while the lower class will always remain underneath them, regardless of circumstance. These characters communicate the illusion that the American dream has now become.
The carefully selected settings communicate Fitzgeralds message that the American dream is no longer real. The settings within the novel all embody different social classes. East
Egg is described as having “glittering white palaces” and being “fashionable.” West Egg is described as “the less fashionable of the two.” East Egg represents the people of “old wealth,”
while the West Egg represents the people of “new money.” West Egg is portrayed as flashy, with
Gatsby’s extravagant parties and brightly colored