The Great Gatsby Essay—Failure of the American Dream

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The novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, an idealistic and illusionary goal to achieve wealth and status. The ruthless pursuit of wealth leads to the corruption of human nature and moral values. Fitzgerald uses characters in the novel to show the corruptions and the illusionary nature of the American Dream. The superficial achievement of the American Dreams give no fulfillment, no real joy and peace; but instead, creates lots of problems for the characters in the novel. What happens to Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Daisy Buchanan represent the failure of the American Dream. Each character has a different dream. For Jay Gatsby, his dream is to attain happiness, represented by Daisy's love, through materialism and power. For Nick Carraway, his goal is to find someone whose achievement in life could prove that the American Dream is not an illusion. For Daisy Buchanan, her dream is to reach a higher standard of living and to become very rich even though she has to pay the price of betraying her own heart and her loyalty to Gatsby's unconditional love. The possession of ‘money' and ‘power', no doubt, can provide material and pride satisfaction in life; but it cannot fulfill the real needs of the human heart, which is true love and genuine happiness. In order to fulfill their American Dreams, the characters in the novel have actually given up the moral values and beliefs that were once precious to them, and the result is that they reap only emptiness in their heart and soul.

The main theme in the Great Gatsby focuses on the corruption of the American Dream. The basic quality of the American Dream described in the novel is the hope for something, and the consistent determination to reach your idealistic goal. For Jay Gatsby, his dream is to win back the love of Daisy, the perfect woman of his dream. He sacrifices his integrity in order to get rich by involving in illegal business. Gatsby thinks that he can recreate the past, which is the relationship between himself and Daisy, with money. He thinks that he can impress Daisy with his wealth so that she will love him once again. Gatsby's strategies of winning back Daisy's heart are to show off his wealth and social status such as connecting himself with "Oxford"; living in a luxurious "mansion"(Pg 5), throwing lavish parties, dressed in nice expensive clothing; he even has "men in England who buy him clothes and sends him a selection"(Pg 92). Gatsby believes that with his money and material success he could buy anything in life including true love and happiness. Because of his obsession to obtain Daisy's love, he betrays his honesty and morality. With no other purposes in life, Gatsby ends up engaging in illegal activities. Therefore, it is very ironical that sometimes in life, good idealistic goal, somehow, is achieved by immoral and illegal means. This is the reason for the failure of the American Dream, and the tragedy of Gatsby.

Daisy is a vain lady. She marries Tom for money and status, and turns her back on true love and happiness, which is represented by Gatsby. Her American Dream is to enjoy a luxurious and comfortable life given to her by, hopefully a man who truly loves her, and whom she also loves. The corruption of her human values begins when she decides not to wait anymore for Gatsby, her real love, but to take the opportunity that Tom Buchanan offers, which are money and status. Her choices reveal her vain and superficial nature hidden beneath her beautiful and innocent look. When Gatsby returns with wealth and status in order to win her love back, she has struggles within her heart about whether she should follow her true feelings or not. However, when Tom told Daisy about Gatsby's "bootlegging," with the intention of destroying her desire to leave him for Gatsby; her will, which is very weak, wavers. She is a person without any strong desires or conviction or loyalty to anybody, including her true love Gatsby; Tom,...
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