The Great Gatsby, a novel by Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, andthe downfall of those who attempt to reach its impossible goals.
The attempt tocapture the American Dream is used in many novels. This dream is different fordifferent people; but, in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is that throughwealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness Jay mustreach into the past and relive an old dream; and, in order to do this, he musthave wealth and power. The American Dream had always been based on the idea thateach person no matter who he or she is can become successful in life by his orher hard work. The dream also brought about the idea of a self-reliant man, ahard worker, making a successful living for him or herself.
The Great Gatsby isabout what happened to the American Dream in the 1920s, a time period when themany people with newfound wealth and the need to flaunt it had corrupted thedream. The pursuit of the American Dream is the one motivation for accomplishingone’s goals, however when combined with wealth the dream becomes nothing morethan selfishness. Jay Gatsby, the main character of the story, is one characterthat longs for the past. Surprisingly, he spends most of his adult life tryingto recapture it and, finally, dies in this pursuit.
In the past, Gatsby had alove affair with the attractive young Daisy. Knowing he could not marry herbecause of the difference in their social status, he leaves her to gain wealthto reach her standards. Once he acquires wealth, he moves near to Daisy,”Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay(p83),” and throws extravagant parties, hoping by chance she might show upat one of them. He, himself, does not attend his parties but watches them from adistance. When this dream doesn’t fall into place like he planned, he asksaround if anyone knows her.
Soon, he meets Nick Carraway, a cousin of Daisy, whoagrees to set up a meeting, “He wants to knowif you’ll invite Daisy toyour house some afternoon and then let him come over (p83). ” Gatsby’spersonal dream symbolizes the larger American Dream where all have theopportunity to get what they want. Later, in the Plaza Hotel, Jay still believesthat Daisy loves him. He is convinced of this and even takes the blame forMyrtle’s death. “Was Daisy driving?” “Yes. But of course I’llsay I was (p151).
” He also watches Daisy as she returns home to make sureher husband doesn’t harm her. “How long are you going to wait?””All night if necessary (p152)”. Gatsby cannot accept that the past isgone and done with. He believes that he acted for her and beyond his personalinterest and that that should guarantee his success.
Nick attempts to show Jaythat his dream is unobtainable, but Gatsby innocently replies to Nick’s commentby saying, “Yes you can, old sport (p141)”. This shows the confidencethat Jay has in fulfilling his American Dream. For Jay, his American Dream isnot material possessions, although it plays a big part in the fulfillment of histrue American Dream, Daisy. Gatsby does not rest until his American Dream isfinally fulfilled.
However, it never comes about and he ends up paying theultimate price for it. Gatsby’s own characteristics, especially his obsession,contributed to his fate. Despite his attitude toward Daisy and her friends who”are rich and play polo together,” he, too, has been drawn in by thelure of money and fame. Unable to control his obsessive desire to have daisy, hecares little about the means by which he acquires the money to marry her. Heassociates with known criminals, appears to be involved with bootlegging, and isrumored to have killed a man.
Finally, he lies about himself and his family toget Nick’s help for his quest. The means he uses to achieve his goal ends up tobe everything that he despises about the people who come to his parties. Heprefers the pretty illusions he thinks of rather than the harsh reality of theobsession that he has allowed to corrupt his life and dream. The result of thiscorruption is that his so-called American Dream has vanished before his eyes. The idea of the American Dream still holds true in today’s time, no matter ifit’s wealth, love, or fame. But one thing never changes about the AmericanDream; everyone desires something in life, and everyone, somehow, strives to getit.
Gatsby is a prime example of pursuing the American Dream, and I think thatthis story would teach the reader to be less cynical so that we try to achievethe American Dream and not leave it as that just a dream.English Essays