The American Dream in the Great Gatsby

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 6 (2127 words) Published: May 29, 2013
The ‘American Dream’ in The Great Gatsby

It has been said that “people are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they’re all asleep at the switch, [the American man has lost his focus]” <>. What exists behind the vision of the American Dream is a paralleled unreality. Humans are dreamers, and desires often create beliefs in people’s minds that lead them to strongly believe in a successful outcome. Unfortunately, these driving desires take individuals from reality. They are then led place false hope in destructive factors. It is hard to see that dream does not actually exist, and the truth that it is not real. For that reason individuals pursuing the dream eventually destroy themselves. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, the spirited main character, Jay Gatsby is corrupted in his pursuit of the ‘American Dream’. The Great Gatsby is set to illustrate the roaring 20s, a period in which young men and women pursued a freer lifestyle. Fitzgerald attempts to exhibit the crisis that most of these individuals faced: they were chasing the ‘American Dream’. The ‘American Dream’ is a common aspiration shared between many young individuals who pursued a life of self-made wealth and true love. Corruption of the society by destructive factors, such as bootlegging and other felonious acts, resulted in an end to an intoxicating era, and eventually an end to the ‘American Dream’. Being deprived of ‘the good life’, impressionable Jay Gatsby is corrupted by men who persuade him, with their self-made image, to partake in illegal activities. Once a self made man, Gatsby transitions into high-class society, and his idea of respect is lost as he discovers the dark nature of the privileged society. Furthermore, Gatsby’s memories of an old love corrupt his mind when he sees that she embodies the unachievable ‘American Dream’.

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby dreams of self-made wealth. As he meets several individuals, they influence him with their image to contribute to their illegal activities. After spending a long summer in his youth with a wealthy girl, Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby falls madly in love with her. Before he can act any further, he is contacted to serve in the military. Upon returning home, Jay Gatsby still passionately yearns for Daisy. Being an outsider to her society, Gatsby realizes that he must live up to her standards, and become a self-made man. Walking along the streets of New York City, he meets millionaire Meyer Wolfsheim who “[raises] him up out of…the gutter…[and uses] him good” (Fitzgerald 171). Gatsby’s new mentor displays his success through “[gambling and being] the man who fixed the World’s Series in 1919” (Fitzgerald 73). Mr.Wolfsheim’s compelling persona and exciting background intrigue Gatsby. Despite being a felon, Mr.Wolfsheim walks the streets freely. Mr. Wolfsheim is intelligent and shrewd, he has gotten out of many complicated situations using his knowledge and understanding of the world. Gatsby see’s only the positive side of his persona and is fascinated; he sees a part of his ‘American Dream’ in Mr.Wolfsheim. the devious Mr.Wolfsheim brings Gatsby into an unfamiliar world, introducing him to drug markets and underground bootlegging fields. As he begins to see the opportunities in the illegal markets, he changes into a new man. He loses all hopes of creating an honest living using his “Oxford [education]” (Fitzgerald 129). Mr.Wolfsheim intrigues Gatsby to “[buy] up a lot of side-street drug-stores…in Chicago and [sell] grain alcohol over the counter” (Fitzgerald 133). Gatsby once was hopeful to acquire his own wealth in a honest manner. It is not until he meets bootlegger and gambler Meyer Wolfsheim that he changes his course. As he is reaching for the ‘American Dream’, “the wondrous hope which Gatsby [embodies is lost] against the corruptness of [the] bootlegging business” (NFS 79). He notes how...

Bibliography: "American Dream quotes & quotations." Find the famous quotes you need, Quotations. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2013.
Fitzgerald, F Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 2004. Print.
“The Great Gatsby.” Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol 2.Detroit:
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"F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes (Author of The Great Gatsby)." Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2013.
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