The Withering of the American Dream in the Great Gatsby

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Katie Laban
December 18, 2012
Period 5
The Withering of the American Dream
In his novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the withering of the American Dream through examples of decreased moral values including materialism, corruption of the upper class, and the idea of love. The main character, Jay Gatsby, is a wealthy bachelor living on the coast of West Egg who is known around town for throwing the most lavish of parties. The mysterious man never attends his own parties, and has a mysterious nature as to where is wealth derives from. But Gatsby is also a great lover; his love for a woman named Daisy has lasted through separation and his admiration only grew fonder as time went on. His story is told through the voice of Nick, his next door neighbor, who has ties Daisy in East Egg.

Fitzgerald uses materialistic ideas such as greed, overconsumption, and the empty idea of success as an aspect of society that deteriorates the American Dream. In the story, Gatsby throws extravagant parties every Saturday night where “men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings” (pg 39). Through Fitzgerald’s vivid imagery, the reader can understand that luxury has no price tag for Jay Gatsby, and values are simply physical items that can be held in the palm of one’s hand rather than morals that can be seen through the character of a person. The narrator, Nick Caraway opens the book with a piece of advice given to him by his father: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (pg 1). It is obvious to the reader from this narration that Nick is well-off but more humble with his wealth than that of Jay Gatsby. The contrasting characters create a difference of personalities, and the social status of each character adds to this difference.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald distinguishes the difference between social classes in a peculiar way to add to his...
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