American Dream Essay

3162 words - 13 pages

For over 100 years people have immigrated to America in hopes of achieving the American Dream. Ideas behind the American Dream date back to the Declaration of Independence which states, ‘all men are created equal’ and that they are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights’ such as ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’. Of course, the definition of the American Dream and what it means in today’s society has changed over the years, and can also be defined different ways by different people, but a standard definition would historically include a person being successful and making a decent life for themselves and their family through hard work and dedication. The idea of ...view middle of the document...

Willy and Gatsby think they will be successful by being well-liked and having money, but even after achieving these things they are not satisfied. After reading these two novels, it’s easy to assume the American Dream is not attainable, and often, as seen with both Willy and Gatsby, in trying to achieve the unattainable, a person could instead find their demise.
First, Gatsby is heavily influenced by past. In the past, he lost the love of his life for being ‘unworthy’ because of his lack of wealth and social status, so he becomes determined to create a new life for himself by rising above his roots, achieving success, and making something of himself to ultimately win the affections of his lost love, Daisy. He sees Daisy as perfect in every way, and his infatuation with her prohibits him from seeing her for who she truly is. Daisy is described as having a voice that ‘is full of money’ like it belongs to someone who lives ‘high in a white palace, the king’s daughter, the golden girl…’ (Fitzgerald 120). She is directly related to wealth, not only sounding like it, but having it and wanting more of it. Gatsby understands this, and therefore becomes obsessed with climbing the social latter and garnering mass amounts of money, but this is one of his fatal flaws. He focuses too much attention on achieving a lavish life-style, in hopes that it will be enough for him to win Daisy’s love, but his love for her keeps him from seeing how truly shallow she is. Because even after Gatsby gets a large fortune and gains mass popularity, he is still not good enough for Daisy; his new money is not ‘good’ enough for her pretentious ways. This proves that Gatsby’s construed version of success is what leads him to be so unsuccessful in achieving the American Dream. He focuses too much attention on money and material items, and even once he receives those he is still unable to get what he truly wants.
Gatsby’s desire for Daisy can be compared to the American Dream in several ways. The American Dream in The Great Gatsby can be described as ‘the orgastic future that year by year recedes before [a person]. It eluded [a person] then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow [they] will run faster, stretch out [their] arms further’ (Fitzgerald 183-184). This quote is directly referring to Gatsby’s struggle to achieve the American Dream, or in his case, get Daisy to love him. Daisy is all Gatsby wants in life; the hope of being with her is the reason for everything he does. She represents everything he wants in life; social status, money, and of course Daisy herself. Throughout the entire novel, he attempts to get what he wants, expending all his energy in hopes to turn his dreams into a reality, but even after he achieves it and gets Daisy, he still is not happy. Gatsby thought Daisy’s love would be enough for him, but after realizing she is also still in love with her husband, Tom, he is not satisfied. He wants to be the only person she loves, thus forcing his dream further from his...

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