Corruption of the American Dream Historian James Truslow Adams says that “the American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. 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 by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." Adams distinguishes between the pure American Dream and the corrupted American Dream. The pure American Dream is defined to be about equal opportunity for all people and a richer and fuller life of happiness and satisfaction with what they have. The corrupted American Dream opposes the pure American Dream by being based on luxury and popularity. In the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the American Dream to expose its corruption. Fitzgerald intelligently uses the motif of affectation to develop the theme of the corrupted American Dream. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses affectation to enhance the theme of the corrupted American Dream. The character James Gatsby, formerly known as Jay Gatz, is a great example of the corrupted American Dream due to his affected behaviour and luxuries. Gatsby tends to show off how much money he has through the things he owns and showing society what he is capable of with that money. He throws lavish parties for people he does not know and lives in a mansion that “was a colossal affair by any standard with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Fitzgerald, 5). Gatsby’s house is an affectation of his
Cited: Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1980.