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The Fall Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

1794 words - 7 pages

The Roaring 20's was an era of decadence and endless possibility. The American Dream was something that everyone coveted. Essentially, The American Dream meant that anyone who had the talent and worked hard enough, could achieve it. Money, a loving spouse, and status all showed that a person had been successful in their life and were vital points to the American Dreams of the Characters in the Great Gatsby. Many of them strived in their own way to achieve “the dream”, however, twisted ideals of love, wealth, and class led to the eventual fall of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby.
Love was turned into a conquest in The Great Gatsby instead of what love should really be; deep feelings of care and affection towards a person. According to Marilyn Roberts, “The acquisition of a high-status woman [was] an essential part of their dream.” Without love, their lives would not be complete and they would be considered a failure. In The Great Gatsby, the affections of Daisy became a prize for “the better man”. Tom and Gatsby turned her into a trophy to be “fought over on the basis of social and economic conventions...Daisy [was] a possession.” (Callahan). Instead of letting Daisy choose who she really loved, the men turned her love into some sort of game to show off their wealth and status. Similar to how a Buck might display its antlers to other males, it's all about showing off their power. In Daisy, Gatsby's “meretricious dream was made flesh.” (Trask) and he realized in order to fulfil his “dream”, he must have her. However, Daisy was unattainable and could never be a “legitimate actualization of Gatsby's illegitimate dream.” (Trask). Gatsby did not realize this though and would have her at any price. Even if it meant becoming a hollow version of his former self. Gatsby came to the conclusion that it wasn't who he was that mattered, it was what he possessed materially that would ultimately win Daisy over. He rationalizes that in order to “place himself in a position to marry Daisy, he ha[d]...to change his identity...and create a show of his wealth.” (Stocks). By doing so, he perverted the real meaning of love. If someone does not feel romantically towards you, changing yourself will not make them love them any more. Gatsby's peacock display of wealth shows that his dream of “love and accomplishment [was] distorted by the values of property and possession.” (Callahan). If he was really searching for love, he would have realized that by trying to attain Daisy, he was at a dead end street. He would have not had his heart broken when she returned to Tom had he realized this. Gatsby “place[d] all of his hope for happiness in Daisy” (Hearne) and was ultimately crushed and “emptied of love and ambition” (Callahan) when he realized that he would not possess what would make his American Dream complete.
In The Great Gatsby, money is a key part in everyone's “dream”. Most people will go through great lengths to achieve wealth and that is all in...

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