The Theme of The American Dream in Great Gatsby

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THE THEME OF THE AMERICAN DREAM IN THE FITZGERALD’S
THE GREAT GATSBY

The 1920s or “the Jazz Age” was the era of the American Dream – the era of equal opportunities (or at least it was thought so) and the times when economy started rising with an enormous speed. The Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is situated in this era and it offers a great insight into what was happening in that time as the novel shows that the values changed and that in that time the American Dream became a synonym for becoming as rich as one can get – a highly materialised version of the American dream.

Jay Gatsby is one of the pursuers of the American Dream and the main character in the novel. For him the American Dream means:

“[...] Rising from rags to riches, of amassing a great fortune that will assure a life of luxuriant ease, power, and beauty in an ideal world untroubled by care and devoted to the enjoyment of everlasting pleasure and nothing to intervene between wish and fulfillment. It is a naive dream based on the fallacious assumption that material possessions are synonymous with happiness, harmony, and beauty.” (Roberts 73, 2006)

This dream seems to promise “wealth, the love of a high-status woman, and immediate justice.” (Roberts 77, 2006) At first it seems that Gatsby has all of it – a great mansion with grand parties, he seems to be winning back Daisy (his one true love) and he can achieve everything he wants to. “Gatsby realizes, however, that as “a penniless young man without a past” (156) he will not be able to marry Daisy.“ (Meehan 80, 2014)

Therefore Fitzgerald also tells us that everybody cannot achieve the American Dream. “The fundamental presupposition that the American Dream can be achieved by anyone as long as they work hard turns out to be nothing more than a mere illusion, a lie intended to give people something to live for.” (Smilijanić, 2010) It is for the ones that come from the high class and were born into it like Tom Buchanan. Tom Buchanan was born

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