The Unsatisfied American Dream
As Florence King once said, “People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they're all asleep at the switch. This quote symbolizes the simple fact that the American Dream is impossible for someone to ever attain because people are to busy dreaming about what others have, that they fail to recognize what they themselves already have attained. The American author F. Scott Fitzgerald has had an unprecedented impact on America. His novels contain recurring themes that establish the facets of modern American society with which he avidly disagrees. His characters Jay Gatsby and Armory Blaine both portray men in American society who have through various ways acquired wealth, but their wealth has not brought them happiness, which is what they had truly longed for. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, The Great Gatsby, and This Side of Paradise, both male characters Jay Gatsby and Armory Blaine respectively represent the idea that when society is driven by only material success, then the American dream is forever destroyed.
A Princeton Graduate, F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896. Fitzgerald was named after his second cousin three times removed Francis Scott Key. He graduated from high school in 1912 and enrolled at Princeton University in 1913, as a member of the Princeton Class of 1917, Fitzgerald always neglected his studies and instead focused on writing. He wrote the scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musicals and was a contributor to the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Soon thereafter, Fitzgerald realized that he had a unique talent, and decided to pursue a career as a writer (Biography). Fitzgerald published his first novel This Side of Paradise in 1919, which was set mainly at Princeton and described by Fitzgerald as “a quest novel,” This Side of Paradise traces the career aspirations and love disappointments of Amory Blaine. The publication of This Side of Paradise in 1920, made the twenty-four-year-old Fitzgerald famous almost overnight, and a week later he married Zelda Sayre in New York. They embarked on an extravagant life as young celebrities. Right around this time, he coined the term the “jazz age” which described the upbeat 1920’s society that was centered around money and material success. Fitzgerald endeavored to earn a solid literary reputation, but his playboy image impeded the proper assessment of his work (Bruccoli 5). He wrote The Great Gatsby during the summer of 1925 in Valescure, it marked a striking advance in Fitzgerald’s technique, utilizing a complex structure and a controlled narrative point of view. Fitzgerald’s achievements received critical praise, but sales of The Great Gatsby were disappointing, though the stage and movie rights brought additional income to Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, due to Fitzgerald’s lack of riches at the time of his death, he believed that he was a failure. The obituaries were condescending, and he seemed destined for literary obscurity, but by 1960 he had achieved a secure place among America’s enduring writers. The Great Gatsby was a work that seriously examined the theme of aspiration in an American setting, which defined the classic American novel. Perhaps Fitzgerald’s most famous work, The Great Gatsby, represents the idea that no matter how wealthy someone becomes, wealth does not create happiness. In the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald shows a clear contempt of the American Dream, an ideal that the characters that he has created either chases or achieves. Through his writing technique, Fitzgerald makes the characters of the novel seem obsessed with material possessions, superficial and selfish needs. The main characters in The Great Gatsby all have very different personalities. Despite this however, all of the characters are affected by money. Some characters, like Gatsby and Tom...
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