Great Gatsby: Decline of American Dream

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The Great Gatsby: Final Paper

Fitzgerald’s dominant theme in The Great Gatsby is the corruption and decline of the American Dream. By analyzing the upper class during the 1920s through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald shows that the American Dream has transformed from noble thoughts to more materialistic and money based ideas. In support of this message, Fitzgerald highlights the original aspects as well as the new aspects of the American Dream in his tragic story to illustrate that a once impervious dream is now lost forever to the American people. The foundational qualities of the American Dream depicted in The Great Gatsby are perseverance and hope. The ethic of hard work can be found in the life of young James Gatz, whose focus on becoming a great a man is carefully documented in his “Hopalong Cassidy” journal. When Mr. Gatz shows the tattered book to Nick, he declares, “ Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always has some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that” (Fitzgerald 182). The journal portrays the continual struggle for self-improvement, which has defined the image of America as a land of opportunity. The product of hard work is the wistful Jay Gatsby, who exemplifies the purest characteristic of the American Dream, everlasting hope. His burning desire to win Daisy’s love symbolizes the basis of the old dream. Gatsby is first seen late at night, “standing with his hands in his pockets” and supposedly “out to determine what share is his of our local heavens” (25). Nick watches Gatsby’s movements and comments “-He stretches out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and as far as I am from him I can swear he is trembling. Involuntarily I glance seaward-and distinguish nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might be the end of the dock” (25). Gatsby’s goal gives him a purpose in life and sets him apart from the rest of the upper class. He...
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