The American dream originated when immigrants came to America searching for new opportunities and a better life. In the early 1900’s all people could do is dream; however, those dreams gave many different meanings to the phrase “American dream”, and for the most part, wealth and hard work play a very large role in the pursuit of “the dream”. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, and Arthur Miller’s drama, Death of a Salesman, both protagonists, Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman, are convinced that the way to achieve a better life is by living the “American dream”. However, the dream does not end up successfully for these two characters. In fact, their ideals and hopes of rising to success cause their American dream to take a turn into a nightmare.
Although it may seem as if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is portraying a romantic relationship between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, a woman he meets and falls in love with in Louisville while training to be an officer, the novel portrays the wealth and materialistic culture in the 1920’s. The more luxury and the more things a person can show off, the more accomplished and successful the person felt. In the roaring twenties, having a family, cars, and luxury was what people would pursue in life but for others, that was not enough.
Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, is not necessarily looking to live the dream but to become successful in business. After World War I, Nick decides to move to Long Island, New York, better known as the “West Egg”. He rents a cottage and ends up living next door to the extravagantly wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby. In the twenties, people trying to become successful by hard work were obsessed with their social class statuses. Nick compares West Egg to East Egg as “the less fashionable of the two” (F. Scott Fitzgerald 5). West egg is looked down on by East egg due to the crash between new money and old money. “East Egg represents the established aristocracy, West Egg the self-made rich” (Sparknotes). West egg has new money which refers to wealth that has been gained by working and East egg has old money which refers to money that has been inherited. Tom and Daisy were born into the American dream unlike Gatsby who has grown from a poor childhood to being a millionaire.
Gatsby is known for his extravagant parties but people did not really know who Gatsby was. His parties symbolize his desperate need for attention though he through these drunken parties for the hope that Daisy will eventually show up to one of them. It may seem as if Gatsby has already achieved the American dream by the outside of his home. He demands esteem by showing off his wealth through purchases like when he says to Nick, “My house looks well doesn’t it? See how the whole front of it catches the light” (Fitzgerald 89).
In the drama, Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller portrays Willy Loman, an average traveling salesman in Brooklyn who wants to live the dream. In the...