The Failed Dream
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” These are the words of the American forefather, Benjamin Franklin. His thoughts reflect the theme that runs through each word, idea and aspect of The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby highlights the flaws of the coveted American dream and how it can never be achieved. Fitzgerald illustrated the different areas of this principle in various characters, such as the Buchanan’s, George Wilson and, of course, the infamous Jay Gatsby. These characters exemplify the empty promises of the “white picket fence” fantasy and the lies that we have been told all through our lives that if we work hard and honest enough, we will receive our reward. The Buchanan’s, Tom and Daisy, were created by Fitzgerald to show how the rich have their wealth not due to any merit of theirs, as so the American dream claims. Instead, throughout the plot, it is revealed how immoral, selfish, and irresponsible the rich are, all the things that one is told not to do to achieve true happiness, yet they have reaped the benefits of the dream. The immorality of the wealthy is best personified through Tom Buchanan, who not only is a chronic cheater, but also treats everyone else as inferior to him. Early in the book, one of the first interactions a reader has with Tom is him talking to his mistress while hosting a dinner party with his wife. What is worse is the next chapter consists of him taking Nick, his wife’s cousin, to meet this mistress. This shows not only his selfishness, but his lack of any conscience. Even when he discovered the infidelity of his own wife, he failed to see his own fault for the exact crime. Daisy is no better. She was eager to have an affair from the first mention of it, when Nick called her to come alone. She didn’t even consider the repercussions until push came to shove and she was forced to choose. “They were...
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