The Great Gatsby: American Dream

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Juwan Henderson

What is the American Dream?

When individuals fail to live up to their ideals, this is when reality falls short of expectations. The quest to obtain what everyone really wants can be an all-encompassing one, requiring all of their devotion and effort. It is especially painful to see others possess what one cannot have. For the characters in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, these problems are all too real. Gatsby works for a lifetime to gain back what he feels is rightfully his, while facing the crushing realization that he may be too late. Fitzgerald uses this futile search to introduce the idea that the idealized American Gatsby fought for what has been corrupted over time. Descriptions of a land of picket fences and middle class freedom are exchanged for one based on greed and lies, where characters will stop at nothing to obtain what they desire. Fitzgerald provides a window into the American Dream and shows that it has become one based on immorality and deception.  Although the marriage of Daisy and Tom Buchanan may have been based on love and devotion, it, like the American Dream as a whole, has been corrupted to become disingenuous and predatory. Tom and Daisy are two people who are content with the somewhat platonic relationship they share. They acquire a child like they would a diamond necklace, a display of affection rather than in the interest of starting a family. One of the first indications that readers receive that the marriage is unhealthy is when Tom interrupts dinner to take a call from his mistress. This event fails to cause a stir in the household and is merely brushed off by Jordan, who finds fault with the annoying time of the interruption rather than its meaning. Taking on the removed role usually filled by Nick, Jordan comments that Tom’s mistress “might have the decency not to phone him at dinner time” (Fitzgerald 20). In the Buchanan household, which has been relocated several times to escape the bad...
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