The Great Gatsby & the American Dream

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The Great Gatsby and the American Dream
The Great Gatsby is an interesting and thought-provoking novel by the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald that sets to explore important and complex social themes such as the hollowness of the upper class and the characteristics and decline of the American Dream during the prosperous years preceding the Great Depression. The Great Gatsby is presented at the surface as a thwarted love story between a man, Jay Gatsby, and a woman, Daisy Buchanan. However, the main theme of the novel goes beyond this and comprises a larger, and indeed less romantic, social context. Furthermore, despite the novel's setting in New York during the summer of 1922 it is still a representation of America throughout the whole decade of the 1920s. The Great Gatsby serves in this context to particularly highlight the disintegration of the American Dream during a period of unprecedented wealth and material prosperity. Yet, this access to wealth comes in the novel at the expense of social and moral values as is clear through the dominance of greed and the empty pursuit of pleasure among the characters. The decline and corruption of the American Dream is epitomized through Gatsby’s lifestyle that involves wild parties and loud jazz music every night. This lifestyle is symbolic of the unrestrained, and hence corrupted, pursuit of money at the expense of any other goals and values in life. Fitzgerald's focus on this theme in the novel is in its turn the outcome of his poor background that led him to become fascinated with the concept of wealth and its surrounding ramifications. In short, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel that explores the social sphere that led to the decadence and corruption of the American Dream. The story develops when Nick meets Jay Gatsby while attending one of his famous parties. Gatsby comes strongly over as a young man who tries too hard to appear classier than he is. For instance, he fakes an English accent to sound more sophisticated. Gatsby decides then to tell Jordan about his feelings for Daisy and Nick learns through Jordan that Gatsby met Daisy five years before and had been madly in love with her ever since. The surprising aspect of the matter is that his whole life style is based on impressing her. The parties are just a way to attract her attention from across the street and the lavish expenditure is another way through which Gatsby attempts to win her thoughts and attention. He has been waiting for a chance to meet Daisy, but out of fear of rejection does not attempt anything except for his parties. This is where Nick steps in to help through inviting Daisy to his house for tea. The events soon follow and Daisy and Gatsby engage in an affair that brings about the tragic ending of the novel. Tom Buchanan’s suspicion regarding his wife and Gatsby grows leading to a violent confrontation with Gatsby, regardless of his personal engagement in an affair. Daisy eventually chooses Tom after he announces that Gatsby made his fortune through the illegal activities of bootlegging alcohol. While on their way back home Daisy kills Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, unknowingly with her car and Gatsby takes the blame once again, which shows his foolish addiction and loyalty to a woman that had already let him down. Myrtle's husband suspects Gatsby to be the secret lover and shoots him dead in his swimming pool along with himself. It is then that Nick decides to leave the area as he feels sick with the emptiness surrounding the lives of everybody around him. The moral decay in the lives of the rich and the obsession with money and absence of honesty in relationships makes Nick eager to find a new place to start over. The East Egg is thus an analogy to the American Dream in general where the obsession with personal gain transformed the society of the 1920s into a materialistic, selfish and immoral era; an era where personal values and deep human sentiments like love seemed to lose meaning to...
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