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The American Dream In The Great Gatsby And The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin

1968 words - 8 pages

One of the greatest classic novels in American history, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, lends itself to be an indispensible literary work that reinforces and challenges the core values and ideals that Benjamin Franklin expresses in his Autobiography. In the provided passage, the young Franklin arrives in Philadelphia in hopes of becoming a new self-made man and begins his journey with little money and few resources much like Gatsby. After arriving by boat, he tries to pay the people of the boat for his voyage but his payment is initially refused because he rowed the boat in order to get to Philadelphia. Franklin insists that they take his payment and says “A man is sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.” Eager to make a good first impression on the people of Philadelphia, Franklin attempts to establish that he is of substantial wealth that he is capable of paying for his own fare even if it is not required. Upon walking into town, he becomes hungry and inquires a boy about the location of the nearest bakery. Franklin proceeds to walk into the bakery asking for a biscuit then discovers that they are not made in Philadelphia, so he asks for a three-penny loaf. Once again, he does not receive a three-penny loaf but instead is given “three great puffy rolls.” Surprised by the amount of bread he obtains for a few pennies, Franklin eats one of them and walks into a Quakers meeting-house. After sitting down for a short period of time, he falls asleep during the meeting but is kindly woken afterwards without a word of complaint. Ben Franklin’s account of his first day in Philadelphia is a success story of one man’s attempt to capture the elusive American Dream. He establishes himself as a capable man of wealth, surprises himself with the amount of food he receives, and joins an accepting group of Quakers all in one day. The hero of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, also pursues the American Dream of becoming a self-made man like Franklin and models his actions after Franklin. Although Gatsby emulates Franklin’s attention to money, Gatsby ultimately fails in fulfilling his American Dream because his expectations can never satisfy his desires and the society he aspires to join is selfish.
Jay Gatsby and Benjamin Franklin share the view that one’s affluence and one’s display of it are the measures of one’s success in achieving his goal. If one truly has the money required to be affluent, there will be no need to display that wealth because others will inherently know that one is rich. In fear of being thought to be poor, Gatsby and Franklin both try to exhibit whatever amount of money they may have even if they do not posses the wealth they truly desire. Franklin searches for items of monetary value in order to accumulate the resources necessary to make a reputation for his name, while Gatsby seeks to acquire the “old wealth” of East Egg in order to win...

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