When the first settlers came to America many years ago, they found freedom and opportunity. With hard work and determination an average man or woman could be prosperous. This concept was not only revolutionary in theory, but has proven to be true for many successful individuals. This idea has come to be known as the American Dream. Its foundation was based on good ethics; however, with the passing of time it has become distorted. The American Dream no longer stands for equal opportunity and hard work; it involves wealth, false happiness, materialistic possessions and high social status. Individuals who have achieved the materialistic American Dream give the appearance of perfection. However, for many, their lives are not as ideal as what they seem. Issues such as sexual abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, adultery, greed and restlessness, affect the lives of even those who appear to live the American Dream. In F. Scott Fitzgerald?s novels, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, the characters Daisy Buchanan and Nicole Diver give the appearance of a charmed existence, but it is in fact flawed. Their apparently perfect but actually flawed lives are shown in their childhood, their marriages, their adult lives and their past relationships.
Daisy Buchanan was raised in a wealthy American family, and had the appearance of a perfect upbringing. In reality, Daisy did live a ? white? (The Great Gatsby 20) childhood, pure and innocent. In fact, her childhood was so ideal that even her friend, Jordan Baker commented,
The largest of the banners and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay?s house. She was just eighteen, two years older than me [Jordan], and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster, and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night (The Great Gatsby 75).
Daisy?s childhood not only gave the outward appearance of being ideal, but in reality it was flawless as well.
On the exterior Nicole Diver?s childhood fits all the requirements of a perfect upbringing as well, however, like the American Dream, it, too, was imperfect. Nicole was born into an affluent family and she was ?a perfectly normal, bright, happy child? (Tender is the Night 126). However, after the death of Nicole?s mother, her father began to have an incestuous relationship with her. Nicole maintained the appearance of being ?normal?, but she eventually began to suffer from mental illness because of her past abuse. ?She had a fit or something-the things she said got crazier and crazier . . . Almost always about men going to attack her, men she knew or men on the street ? anybody ?? (Tender is the Night 127). Nicole was diagnosed as having a ?divided personality?(Tender is the Night 128) and she underwent many years of therapy to rehabilitate her...