We have all dreamt of having money, having the job, and the big house. Basically, we dreamt of the perfect life, the perfect job, and the perfect marriage. Generally this dream is known as the “American Dream”, which is the belief that if one works hard, then that person will succeed by becoming rich. The theme of the “American Dream” has been corrupted and becomes more of materialistic dream and this can be found throughout The Great Gatsby, two of the most prime examples are Jay Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson, but can also be found in some of the other characters in the book. Gatsby’s dream is to get rich, have power, and ultimately win the love of Daisy Buchanan. Myrtle Wilson’s dream is to have money and a higher social status, which she believes she can achieve this by being with Tom Buchanan. But as the people throughout the story try to achieve these things, we see that the corruption of these people’s actions can come from trying to obtain the “American Dream” and it generally fails to make that person happy.
Gatsby has an uncanny devotion for the things and people he desires. Gatsby starts his life as a poor man who feels that he can win his love, Daisy, back if he achieves enough material wealth and status. When he first meets Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby commits “himself to the following of a grail” (149). After five years of separation, he will do just about anything with in his power to win her from Tom for himself. Up to this point in his life everything he has done is directed towards winning Daisy and having her in his life. An example of his devotion to his goals is the mansion he constructs, “a colossal affair by any standard… with a tower on one side, spanking new under thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (5). Once a “penniless young man without a past” (149), he transforms himself into a self-made millionaire and builds an extravagant mansion without having any history of family wealth. His mansion is strategically placed across the lake from Daisy’s house. From his window, Gatsby can see the blue colored lights of her house. Even though she is married to Tom Buchanan and has a daughter, Gatsby “revalues everything in his house according to the amount of response it draws from her well loved eyes” (91). But in the end, Gatsby’s insurmountable devotion to Daisy won’t be enough to win her over. He dedicates so much of his life to be with her and ultimately it won’t make any difference in the long run because he can never have the same status as Tom. Gatsby also displays the corruption of “American Dream” through his acquisition of wealth. Gatsby’s business dealings are not so clear. He admits to Nick that he is “in the drug store business” (90). The drug store business during prohibition was place to buy alcohol and being in it meant that they were bootleggers. Bootlegging is a highly profitable business and bootleggers were commonly associated with gangsters who commit illegal and cruel deeds. The society Gatsby wants and needs to be a part of is based on money and power. Gatsby finds himself earning his money through unlawful activities, such as the bootlegging and gambling. As he becomes addicted to this new and glamorous life style he sees nothing wrong with these activities because they are all a part of way to obtain his dream.
From a young age Gatsby lies and cheats to be able to reinvent himself, because he is unhappy with his social status. He always wishes he was born rich and in a different family since “his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” (98), and as Nick explains, “his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents” (98). He really wants to improve his way life and at the age of seventeen he tries to do that by changing his name and leaving. In this he shows he is willing to forget everything and lie about something as essential as who you are to