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Ambition And Opportunity On The Green Breast Of The New World: Beyond The Land Of Liberty, And Towards The Corrupt Desire For Wealth In "The Great Gatsby"

3322 words - 13 pages

America has always been viewed as the "land of opportunity", a place of freedom and tolerance, in which all individuals share the right to pursue their unique idea of the "American dream". As immigrants approach New York Harbor and glance up at the Statue of Liberty, many explain a sense of comfort and a surge of ambition in knowing the two cents in their pocket could, over time, transform into the sums necessary to buy the happiness and equality many never before dreamed. However, after residing for some time in the New World, the line drawn between the upper classes and those below, and even the divisions between "old money" and "new money" among the wealthy grew inescapably apparent. As a result, wealth and materialism became a top priority on the minds of Americans, and many attempted, and continue, to try and escape their struggle through morally dissolute means. Unfortunately, bigotry, discrimination, and inequality remain in all aspects of life upon this green land, and the argument for acceptance continues even after wealth has been gained. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby, the quest for the American Dream is exquisitely crafted and entangled among the contamination of social classes, and through a handful of distinctive characters, Fitzgerald accurately displays the detriment materialism so often brings to individual happiness. Furthermore, within the novel, one can see the tainted minds of those who have achieved wealth, and the unfavorable consequence to morality seen by many in their pursuit of financial glory. Much like the light on the end of Daisy's dock, the torch held by Lady Liberty appears a vibrant gold, but in reality, Fitzgerald emphasizes that to approach America is to look up at the never-exhausting green flame standing on the edge of a nation driven by wealth and class. As one attempts to attain financial greatness, comfort and social norms, corruption and discrimination may take precedence over love, principles, and more importantly, the equality so many believe ripe and abundant beyond the "valley of ashes" (23).Many, for innumerable reasons, hunt for the American dream. For some, to attain wealth and social connections creates an atmosphere of comfort and success, a pedestal to be looked at from those below. Others attain financial greatness as a means of accomplishing equality and overcoming social and financial discrimination in rising to the upper class. For Jay Gatsby, however, the sole motivation for his success is Daisy Buchanan. Because Daisy at one time found him unfit to marry due to his lowly connections and lack of a lavish estate, Gatsby makes achieving a lifestyle equal to hers his main priority after the war. As Daisy admires Gatsby's mansion, Nick observes that "he hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes" (91). When Daisy questions as to how Gatsby lives in such a large mansion all...

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