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The American Dream Symbolizes Ideas Of Hope, Happiness, And A

1257 words - 5 pages

The American dream symbolizes ideas of hope, happiness, and a better quality of life. Though the years, however, this dream has often been corrupted by the growth of capitalism in the American mind. As a consequence, F. Scott Fitzgerald implied in his novel, The Great Gatsby, that early 20th century Americans were slowly redefining their lives in accordance to power and wealth as opposed to simplistic happiness. Fitzgerald created the character of Jay Gatsby to symbolize the American dream. All the characters with the exception of the narrator, Nick Carraway, serve as a foil to Jay Gatsby. Albeit, Gatsby does evince his share of faults, the other characters, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and the Wilsons, all seem to have faults greater than those of Gatsby since they represent the capitalistic cancer that embodies the country. Therefore, when Nick says, "They're a rotten crowd… You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" (Fitzgerald 162), Nick is indubitably correct in his assessment of Gatsby. The character of Tom Buchanan can be seen as a hypocritical and dogmatic aristocrat who symbolizes most of what is wrong with the wealthy people in 1920's America. He has been brought up in an aristocratic world where people have blind faith in the class system. Life in Tom's eyes is a string of superficial events peppered with the ascetic beauty of his surroundings. A nice car, a lavish home, and a wife, equal in status, are all needed things in his elite existence. On top of all these things, Tom is even seen as being a bigot when he says, "It's up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things" (Fitzgerald 17). Another facet of his careless and selfish mind is his somewhat unhidden extramarital affair with Myrtle Wilson. Tom is imperturbed by those who seem to be cognizant of his affair. Moreover, he even treats Mr. Wilson as inferior because of his low status and still keeps a somewhat friendly relationship with him. On the whole, status, immorality, and hypocrisy drive Tom's character.Like her husband, Daisy Buchanan is also a symbol of aristocracy and capitalism. She was brought up in an almost identical world of money and power driven people who cared little for simplistic happiness. However, the evidence of her previous relationship with Gatsby soon warps the reader's perception of Daisy. Since Gatsby was a poor soldier when they were in love, Daisy is seen as having once faltered in her aristocratic ways. For a moment in her life she was driven by love instead of status and money. During the course of the novel, however, Daisy ends up choosing her husband over Gatsby and lets Gatsby cover up for Myrtle Wilson's murder. In a crucial scene in the novel, Tom and Daisy are having dinner after Myrtle's murder as "[Tom] was talking intently across the table at her and in his earnestness his hand had fallen upon and covered her own. Once in a while she looked up at him and nodded in agreement"...

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