The Great Gatsby - Death of the American Dream

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The Great Gatsby - Death of the American Dream

By | October 1999
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In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, all the characters are, in one way or another, attempting to achieve a state of happiness in their lives. The main characters are divided into two groups: the rich upper class and the poorer lower class, which struggles to attain a higher position. Though the major players seek only to change their lives for the better, the idealism and spiritualism of the American Dream is inevitably crushed beneath the harsh reality of life, leaving their lives without meaning or purpose.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the rich socialite couple, seem to have everything they could possibly desire; however, though their lives are full of material possessions and worldly goods, they are unsatisfied and seek to change their circumstances. Tom, the arrogant ex-football player, drifts on "forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game"(pg. 10) and reads "deep books with long words in them"(pg. 17) in order to have something to talk about. Though he appears happily married to Daisy, Tom has an affair with Myrtle Wilson and keeps an apartment with her in New York. Tom's basic nature of unrest prevents him from being satisfied with the life he leads, and so he creates another life for himself with Myrtle. Daisy Buchanan is an empty figure, a woman with neither strong desires nor convictions. Even before her loyalty to either Tom or Gatsby is called into question, Daisy does nothing but sit around all day and wonder what to do with herself. She knows that Tom has a mistress on the side, yet hesitates to leave him even when she learns of Gatsby's devotion to her. Daisy professes her love to Gatsby, yet cannot bring herself to tell Tom goodbye except at Gatsby's insistence. Even then, once Tom pleads with her to stay, Daisy quickly capitulates and ultimately leaves Gatsby for a life of comfort and security. The Buchanans are the ultimate examples of wealth and prosperity, the epitome of the rich life...
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