What Is The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

Submitted By zefelts
Words: 1168
Pages: 5

The American Reality The Great Gatsby has easily become one of the most analyzed pieces of literature since its publication in 1925. Set in the early 1920’s, The Great Gatsby captures a time where anything seemed possible and obtainable, a time where reform and progression were constant and steady. This idea is something that Fitzgerald definitely carried over into The Great Gatsby, since the majority of the characters spend all of their time and effort to achieve their interpretation of the American Dream, which seemed to alter after each immoral action from Fitzgerald’s characters. After reading The Great Gatsby, we cannot help but to wonder how much of the American Dream is just an illusion and how much of it is reality. The American Dream is a theme that has been relevant since the beginnings of American literature. In order to fully understand the importance of the American Dream as a theme in The Great Gatsby, we must first understand exactly what the American Dream is. Some might say that the American Dream is being financially successful, owning a home, nice car, and having a family to share it with, while another person might think that having the newest technologies and staying up with the times is their idea of the American Dream. The aspect of the American Dream most represented in The Great Gatsby is the materialistic aspect, which can best be seen through Gatsby himself and his extravagant lifestyle. Everything about Gatsby reeked of money and wealth, which allowed for the division between the rich and poor. This division automatically creates an unrealistic view of the American Dream for the poor and a heightened view for the rich, and if the American dream is a realistic goal, it should be equally obtainable by everyone. Kimberly Hearne, author of Fitzgerald’s Rendering of a Dream, connected this idea to Fitzgerald’s view of the American Dream by saying, “For Fitzgerald the American dream is beautiful yet grotesquely flawed and distorted. No matter what idyllic picture we paint of American and all of its promise…No one is truly equal, and regardless of opportunities, someone is always struggling” (Hearne 191). The most prominent example of a character in The Great Gatsby is Gatsby himself. We learned in the novel that Jay Gatsby was born named James Gatz, who came from a middle class family in North Dakota and at a young age traveled around trying to make a better life for himself. The reader then learns that Jay Gatsby actually earns the majority of his riches from illegal activities that he was introduced to by a group of shady people, rather than working hard for every penny and getting an education like the traditional American Dream suggests. It is during this time that Jay is rejected by Daisy because of his poor background, and this only makes Jay Gatsby want to become a totally different person with the hopes of winning Daisy. William Fahey said it best in his book titled, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the American Dream by saying, “He has lived not for himself, but for his dream, for his vision of the good life inspired by the beauty of a lovely rich girl” (Fahey, 1973:71). Despite his wealth, Gatsby is not content because the woman that he loves is married to another man. Gatsby throws extremely large parties, not to socialize and get to know those who would die to know him, but with the hopes that Daisy would one day come walking through the door. Despite the fact that his house was constantly full of people, we learn throughout the text that Gatsby was lonely. Even more so than Gatsby, the Buchanans represented the affluent aspect of the American dream. Daisy grew up spoiled from her life in a rich society from a very young age and into her life as an adult as well. Because of her financial advantages in life, Daisy in fact was absorbed in her life as a rich individual and never seems to care much about anyone but herself, which can be