Gatsby Essay

Submitted By jaguarboy
Words: 1470
Pages: 6

Joseph Wesley
Professor Milberg
22 March 2014
Pursuing Dreams The cliché “American dream”, means many things, but love, wealth, material possessions, and power are its’ core values. For many Americans, the dream is based solely upon reaching a higher standard of living. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, “The Great Gatsby”, he portrayed the main character “Gatsby” as one of these Americans who lived his whole life in pursuit of wealth, power, and love. Fitzgerald’s novel depicted the 1920's as a time of parties, drinking and having fun. The 1920’s were marked by economic prosperity, advances in technology and culture, and changing social roles. Many aspired to be rich, prosperous and strived to be a part of the upper class. Although this was the dream for many Americans of this time, it seemed almost impossible to become a part of this social class unless born into it. Even those who were incredibly wealthy and obtained a luxurious lifestyle, found that they were not equals to the people born into money or how Fitzgerald puts it “old money”. This was a running theme in his book, constantly characters were striving to achieve an unattainable goal and almost all fell short, of which cost a few characters their lives. Although some could accomplish rising to the top, they still could not achieve true happiness. Fitzgerald illustrates the 1920’s and its unattainable “American Dream” through Gatsby’s: unwavering hopes, his methods of attaining wealth and power, and inevitably his demise at the end of the novel. The 20’s were an era of dreaming and striving. People dreamed of reaching the next social class and acquiring wealth. It was a form of hope that fueled and pushed people through their lives. Fitzgerald personifies this hope in his character Gatsby. Gatsby’s immense hope is almost blind, in that he is unfazed by negativity towards his goal. In Fitzgerald’s novel Gatsby and Nick have discussion about the past, where in Nick says, “I wouldn’t ask much of her… You can’t repeat the past”, Gatsby retorts “Can’t repeat the past? …Why of course you can! …I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before, she’ll see” (110). The “way it was before” that Gatsby is referring to, is the love that he and his love interest in the book “Daisy” shared in the past. He refuses Nicks negativity through resiliency fueled by his inner hopes and dreams. This hope is much like those of people during the 20’s. Although their individual dreams may not all have been about love, the dreams are what kept the people going through war and a changing society. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s hope for daisy to represent society’s hopes during the 1920’s. For many during the 20’s their hopes were although so close, completely unattainable. One of the ways this is illustrated in the novel is the green light that Gatsby can see from his dock, “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward-and distinguished nothing except a single green light…” (20).In this passage Nick is watching Gatsby stretch and long for this “green light”. This light is coming from the dock at Daisy’s house. The way Nick describes Gatsby’s arms stretched out and trembling mirror the aspirations of people in the 20’s. Gatsby’s desperation for Daisy consumes him to the point of physical trembling. Daisy is not just a want or a desire for him; she is a need, a taunting unattainable goal within reach. Although his and many others’ during the 20’s dreams seem far, it’s the hope that stretches their hands out and to continue striving forward. While striving for dreams Gatsby and many other citizens of the 20’s resorted to illegal practices to attain wealth. The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution effected the national prohibition of alcohol from 1920 until its repeal in 1933. Bootlegging helped establish organized crime. The distribution of liquor was more…