Great Gatsby and the American Dream

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Roaring Twenties Pages: 6 (2176 words) Published: September 23, 2013

The Great Gatsby & The American Dream
Written Report

Definition of American Dream
Sure, we’ve all heard of the American Dream before, but what is the American Dream? Actually, let’s take it one step back, and look at where the American Dream came from. The American Dream originated from the early days of American settlement, where many poor immigrants were searching for opportunities. It was first incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, which describes an attitude of hope, it states that “all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.  However, this definition seems outdated to fit our modern society. Rather, we believe that a proper definition for the American Dream would be: “the opportunity to obtain true happiness if a person puts enough work towards it.” This contrasts the original definition as our statement targets “true happiness” as an idea possessing several factors such as: rights, wealth, health, and love. In addition, we stated that it is achievable for anyone that “works” for it without specifying the optimal amount of work necessary for one to be truly happy.

Is the American Dream real or just an attitude?
Regarding the aforementioned definition of the American Dream, it seems as if though it is just an attitude ideally for people to strive for, as a figure which is unattainable. Even in the early depictions of the American Dream, it was regarded as a pursuit for an unrealistic aspiration. However, as seen in our modern-day society, the American Dream has become a tangible goal, as the meaning and the representation of the American Dream has deviated over the decades it has been around. In the timeline of the American Dream, we can see that it was originally meant to be an attitude to be followed. Since the creation of the United States, the American Dream was known to be, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This was an ideal in life and for achieving happiness. This attitude allowed Americans to freely pursue happiness and what they wanted to do (to an extent), in turn constructing their own successes and achievements. In the 1920s, this “American Dream” was combined with the idea of wealth. The American Dream experienced a huge change as the 1920s passed by, altering the definition of the American Dream to becoming, “materialistic wealth is the gateway to true happiness”, which was America’s first take with consumerism. With the boom of the postwar economy and the rising stock market, the people began to change their ideologies and interchanged the idea of materialistic wealth and happiness together. This allowed the creation of a new American Dream, which is still only an attitude, as the pursuers of the American Dream were never able to satisfy themselves with a certain amount of material wealth and always wanted more which also did not allow them to experience long-lasting happiness. Nevertheless, during the Depression of the 1930s, the American Dream underwent another transformation. The American Dream that was built up by the Roaring Twenties was broken down due to the stock market crash of 1929 and led the United States into a state of recession. With this, the values of the American Dream were changed, and the term “American Dream” was first coined, in 1931 by James Truslow Adams, “It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." This shows that the American Dream has been altered once...
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