The Corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the corruption of the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to attain its illusionary goals. As the novel shows, the 20th century is a moral wasteland and a corruption of the original idealistic American Dream of the past.
Fitzgerald's moral wasteland is shown physically in the "valley of ashes" scene of the novel. This 'dismal' and 'desolate' wasteland exists side-by-side with the white and unreal dream of Daisy and her world. Even the colors of this landscape have correlations to Daisy: the "yellow" of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg's spectacles and the brick of the houses on the street is a color of decay, but also of riches like sunlight and gold. Also, the ashes in the valley form figures (to Nick) which disintegrate at the slightest puff of wind. Gatsby is incapable of recognizing the "ashes" of what Daisy represents and takes her emptiness for substance. Although Nick sees the moral desolation of the Buchanans' world, Gatsby cannot and tries to find in this world a dream worth holding on to. As shown in Gatsby's parties, nothing is tethered to reality; there is laughter without amusement, 'enthusiasm' between strangers, "friends" without friendship, and life without meaning.
Gatsby's dream is that through wealth and power, one can acquire happiness (Daisy). Throughout the novel we see that Gatsby cannot see that the past is over and done with and he therefor can have no chance with Daisy. He is sure that he can capture his dream with wealth and influence. Nick attempts to show Gatsby the folly of his dream and tell him that he cannot relive the past, but Gatsby confidently replies, "Yes you can, old sport." There are many connections between Gatsby's dream with the American Dream. A big part of both is the pursuit of material things and both have a touch (or more than a touch) of unreality about them.
The American dream used to be self-betterment, wealth, and...