Embodiment of the American Dream in "The Great Gatsby" and "Death of a Salesman"

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: February 26, 2006
We all have goals and dreams we want to accomplish. But the pursuit of a dream based on false illusions will ultimately lead to tragedy. This is true in Arthur Miller's play, "Death of a Salesman", and in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby". In both works, the main character is in pursuit of a dream for success that ultimately causes his demise.

The American Dream is the idea that through hard work, courage, and determination one can achieve prosperity. Based on the Protestant work ethic, these values were held by the European settlers and passed on to subsequent generations. . The development of the Industrial Revolution combined with the great natural resources of the enormous and as yet unsettled country created the possibility of achieving wealth. The American Dream was a driving factor not only in the gold rushes of the mid to late 1800s, but also in the waves of immigration throughout that century and the following. Nearing the twentieth century, major industrialist personalities became the new model of the American Dream, many beginning life in the humblest of conditions but later controlling enormous corporations and fortunes. This acquisition of great wealth appeared to demonstrate that if you had talent, intelligence, and a willingness to work extremely hard, you were likely to be a success in life as a result.

In "Death of a Salesman", Willy Loman's values are all based on the American Dream of success. Willy measures success by being "well liked" and having material things to show off. But this dream is guiding him down a path of destruction. He is always looking to the future for success and happiness because his present state is never enough. Willy begins to lose his mind while he is out on the road selling. He isn't succeeding the way he used to and the lifestyle is wearing him out. This dream has assumed such an importance in his life that has caused his to wrongly justify his actions taken in achieving it. Willy lies about his...
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