The Great Tragedy of the American Dream

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 4 (1647 words) Published: May 20, 2014
The Great Tragedy of the American Dream
Traditionally, America and other countries throughout the world have heard the phrase American Dream, which paints ideas of success, wealth and power in one’s head. However, over time, the dream becomes undecipherable as to whether there really is such a thing as the great American Dream or whether it is only another piece of fiction. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald portrays the American Dream through many different characters and settings, and he “alludes not only to its possibilities but also to its limitations”(Verderame) in his successful novel The Great Gatsby, which was written in 1924. On the surface, the novel is about love triangles, affairs, glamour and deception. Underneath all of this, however, the novel uses New York’s society to show how the American Dream is not as great as it is portrayed to be. Fitzgerald uses the contrasts between the upper and lower class of society to show the rise and fall of the American Dream in his novel. The novel captures the extravagant yet deceptive age of the 1920s through themes of opportunity, discovery and wealth. Perhaps the most notable theme, however, is the pursuit of the American Dream. The American Dream is an idea that was founded by Thomas Jefferson and coined by James Adams in 1931. The idea describes the American people’s quest for individualism, wealth and the pursuit of happiness. However, this devoted pursuit for happiness often leads to a downfall of materialistic lives. The elusive American Dream is portrayed throughout this novel in many ways, including the rise and fall of Fitzgerald’s main character Jay Gatsby, the insight on how destructive the American Dream can be from the novel’s narrator Nick Carraway, and the “new women” of the 1920s.

The title character of the novel, Jay Gatsby, was born into a poor midwestern family, but always longed to live a wealthy and popular life. He worked many different jobs, continually striving to attain wealth and...
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