The two texts that this essay will compare and contrast are the novel The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald and the play Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller. Both works are based around the central topic of ‘the American Dream’ and the unceremonious death of it. However, the journeys that the protagonists take to meet their tragic ends are very different though the motives involved are accused murder and adultery. This essay’s aim is to determine whether the novel or the play best is more successful in engaging and provoking the reader. This will be done by analysing characters, plot lines and the main/recurring themes throughout.
“I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, chapter one page 22). These words are vacantly spoken by Daisy Buchanan from the novel The Great Gatsby and are in reference to her infant daughter. In some ways this is representative of her character because she is quite child-minded herself and is rather laissez-faire in her attitudes and morals: Daisy wishes that her daughter grows up to be a mirror image of herself; beautiful and ignorant.
Of both The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman, they share the major theme which revolves around the American Dream, and the subsequent death of it. Firstly, the dream itself suggests that if you are thoroughly accomplished in your line of work, own expensive items and are socially-well connected, you are likelier to achieve more in life. This lifestyle is extremely materialistic and those who lead it often hold a façade of happiness and success and aren’t as rich as they would have other people believe. This is demonstrated in the novel, The Great Gatsby, as Jay Gatsby has created a false image in an attempt to impress and win back Daisy Buchanan, even venturing as far as changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby because it holds a more upper-class ring to it. The lavish parties he holds (though he rarely shows his face); his ownership of several enviable motor vehicles, and his ludicrously large mansion that he resides in add to his ‘image’. Though he does have a large fortune which he can spend without care, Gatsby’s wealth is ‘new money’.
‘New money’ is recently acquired wealth and can be earned through business deals, illegalities, gambling and the like. As opposed to ‘old money’ which is inherited wealth as shown in the character Tom Buchanan of East Egg whose family is extremely rich and goes back many generations. In Gatsby’s case, it was the selling of alcohol which was illegal in the Twenties – also known as bootlegging, which earned him his fortune.
This, in comparison to the discourse of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman is slightly different. Willy is trying to achieve the American Dream by becoming successful, thus ensuring him popularity. To be well-liked is what he is aiming for, and he is living through his eldest son, Biff, in order to do so....