The Portrayal of the American Dream Through its Characters in The Great Gatsby

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 2 (489 words) Published: November 22, 2013
As portrayed in The Great Gatsby, The American Dream is an unachievable ideal. Fitzgerald uses the characters of Tom Buchanan, George Wilson, and Jay Gatsby to symbolize three attempts at fulfilling the promise of the ideology, but all three characters end up bankrupt in either personal or monetary standards thus illustrating the emptiness of The Dream itself. Tom Buchanan falls short of achieving the American Dream in that he is never satisfied with his accomplishments. Tom is already rich and powerful and has a beautiful wife but he is never satisfied. He always needs more. Tom’s version of the American Dream is having control of his life and having power over others. One wife wasn’t enough, so he made Myrtle his mistress. Tom is always trying to relive the excitement he got from when he was a football star. He has passed his peak in life and will never relive his past but Tom doesn’t realize this. Tom Buchanan will never achieve his version of the American Dream because, like all the others, it is unachievable. The symbolic death of George Wilson illustrates that, while deeply driven by the promise of the American Dream, the proletariat always loses the class war. George Wilson lives with his wife in “The Valley of Ashes.” He works hard in hopes to one day become wealthy. This is Wilson’s form of the American Dream. Tom Buchanan interferes with Wilson’s dream by having an affair with Wilson’s wife, Myrtle. This ultimately leads to a confrontation in which Myrtle is killed. Enraged, Wilson kills Gatsby when he hears Gatsby was the one who killed her and then commits suicide and thus, ends his journey towards the unachievable American Dream. In his attempt to win Daisy Buchanan, Jay Gatsby is led astray by the American Dream’s promise of money as the key to happiness. Gatsby is the protagonist of the story. Fitzgerald writes the book so that the reader is rooting for Gatsby and his dream of being with Daisy. The antagonist of the story, Tom Buchanan, is what is...
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