Thesis: The pursuit of the American Dream is a dominant theme throughout The Great Gatsby, which is carried out in various ways by F. Scott Fitzgerald, how the author represents this theme through his characters and their actions is one small aspect of it.
Fitzgerald's dominant theme in The Great Gatsby focuses on the corruption of the American Dream. By analyzing high society during the1920s through the eyes of narrator Nick Carraway, the author reveals that the American Dream has transformed from a pure ideal of security into a convoluted scheme of materialistic power. 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 foundation qualities of the American Dream depicted in The Great Gatsby are perseverance and hope. The most glorified of these characteristics is that of success against is that of success against all odds. 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, pg 182). The journal portrays the continual struggle for self-improvement, which has defined the image of America as a land of opportunity. "By comparing the young James Gatz to the young Benjamin Franklin, Fitzgerald proves that the American Dream is indeed able to survive in the face of modern society."(Website) A society naturally breaks up in into various social groups over time. Members of lower statuses constantly suppose that their problems will be resolved if they gain enough wealth to reach the upper class. Many interpret the American dream as being this passage to high social status and once reaching that point, not having to concern about money at all. Though, the American Dream involves more than the social and economic standings of an individual. "The dream involves attaining a balance between the spiritual strength and the physical strength of an individual."(Lehan, pg.53) Jay Gatsby fails to reach his ultimate dream of love for Daisy in that he chooses to pursue it by engaging in a lifestyle of high class. Gatsby realizes that life of the high-class demands wealth to become priority; wealth becomes his superficial goal overshadowing his quest for love. He establishes his necessity to acquire wealth, which allows him to be with Daisy. The social elite of Gatsby's time sacrifice morality in order to attain wealth. Tom Buchanan, a man from an enormously wealthy family, "seems to Nick to have lost all sense of being kind."(Lehan, pg.60) Nick describes Tom's physical attributes as a metaphor for his true character when remarking that Tom had a "hard mouth and a supercilious manner
arrogant eyes has established dominance over his face
always leaning aggressively forward
a cruel body
his speaking voice
added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed" (Lehan, p.61) The product of hard work is the wistful Jay Gatsby, who epitomizes the purest characteristics of the American Dream: everlasting hope. His burning desire to win Daisy's love symbolizes the basis of the old dream: an ethereal goal and a never-ending search for the opportunity to reach that goal. 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" (Fitzgerald, pg25). 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...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document