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Decay Of Gatsby's Dream Essay

1459 words - 6 pages

Achieving the American Dream would, by definition, ensure true happiness and success. However, the idea of success for one person may differ from the idea of success of another. Material wealth is essential to a degree, but when does the 'want' for wealth surpass need? How much effort are the dreamers willing to give of themselves in order to reach the 'land of promise'? 'The dream is basically the idea that any man, if he works hard enough, can become a success, and thus achieve true happiness.' In the novel The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is a dreamer. He genuinely wants to achieve the American Dream, and believes that if he does, he will also achieve true happiness. There are, however, imperfections in this dream. In Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, through the character of Jay Gatsby the American Dream is reduced to nothing more than a dream when Fitzgerald demonstrates that hard work does not guarantee success; success does not assure happiness; and that not all men are created equal.The cruel contrast between Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, established by Fitzgerald, authenticates that hard work does not always guarantee success. Tom Buchanan, a member of the high social class of East Egg, is a prime example of this. Born into luxury and prestige, Tom Buchanan never works a day in his life. His idea of success is to be wealthy, and to be able to live an extravagant and comfortable rich life-style with his wife Daisy. "Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor" (Pg 142). This reference is to the people of West Egg, who do not have a place in the rich, high-class society of East Egg. This society accepts only those who are inherently rich; which can be described as 'well-bred' in the novel's context. Gatsby on the other hand, is one of the many middle-class people of West Egg. Although he 'worked' for five years, and became very rich, he was a constantly shunned by the people of East Egg. For Gatsby, success would mean attaining the love of Daisy. He does this by becoming rich, or 'good' enough to impress her and her high standards. By bootlegging and other illegal activities, Gatsby finally considers himself rich. Gatsby now believes that he is 'good enough' for Daisy to accept his love, and give him the same in return. "She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me!"(Pg 123). Although Gatsby believes that Daisy will now love him again because of his hard work, she cannot tell him that she never loved Tom. The true contrast between Tom and Gatsby is shown through the character of Daisy. She knows how Gatsby made his millions, illegally, and she feels more comfortable with Tom and his 'old money'. Seemingly, no matter how hard Gatsby tries, he cannot convince Daisy to admit that she never loved Tom. This breaks his heart and he cannot believe that he spent the past five years of this life, apparently...

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