The American Nightmare
The "American Dream" is based on the idea that any person, regardless of their upbringing, race, or origin can attain their dream through hard work and self-reliance. Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a novel of a passionate young man, Nick Carraway, whose image of success becomes jaded by the "high society" of the times. Using Gatsby as a representation of the American Dream, and Nick as the objective narrator, Fitzgerald criticizes the perversion of the American Dream, and the wealthier class of Americans in the Roaring Twenties, who live in a moral and spiritual vacuum.
Throughout the story, Fitzgerald exposes the self-centered and hypocritical attitudes of the upper class. He displays scenarios of snobbery and shallowness, which ruin the lives of those good men who are sucked into the American Dream. Tom Buchanan's utter disrespect for the feelings of a lower-class character, Wilson, being an example of cruel satisfaction in the derision of the poor. Tom's affair with Myrtle ultimately leads to Wilson's insanity and Gatsby's death. In the novel, all of the people of inherited wealth lack morals and are perfectly capable of crushing anyone in their way. In The Great Gatsby, the East Eggers are people of inherited wealth and all are egotistic snobs. Their dilemmas and acts, a list of immorality, are a representation of what money brings, and help shape the story. Tom Buchanan, a muscular bull of a man who inherited his family fortune, finds himself bored with his beautiful wife and takes on a lower class
mistress named Myrtle, who is married to an unsuccessful entrepreneur running a gas station. Myrtle aspires to be part of the upper class of society, and will stop at nothing to achieve her dream. Tom harasses and belittles his mistress's husband on many occasions purely for the feeling of power to which he has become accustomed to due to his wealth. Tom's wife, Daisy, knows about the affair, but stays with him to maintain her status. Daisy's friend, Jordan Baker, the golf champion, had cheated to win her last golf tournament and lies to Nick about the true reason why Daisy has not yet left Tom. Equally as devoid of morals as Tom, Daisy has an affair with Gatsby and it soon becomes apparent that she truly loves neither of them. In contrast to most of the other characters in the story, Gatsby was not born rich; he went from rags to riches to impress a shallow girl, and in the process became equally shallow and corrupt. When Gatsby swam out to Dan Cody's yacht, he displayed the kind of opportunism and decisiveness that the American Dream is based on.
However, to become rich and to stay rich, one often has to engage in less than ethical ventures; this is why the affluent depicted in the novel are so corrupt. Gatsby is a bootlegger; his business is based on breaking the law (of prohibition); he deals with the gangster type, and many do not hold him in any higher esteem than a gangster. Although Gatsby does not do anything...