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The Great Gatsby: The Morally Corrupt American Dream

1101 words - 4 pages

Exposing the Morally Corrupt American Dream

    The 1920’s were a decade of renaissance characterized by the establishment of the "American Dream" -- the belief that anyone can, and should, achieve material success. F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, contains themes and morals that continue to be relevant today. In his novel, Fitzgerald criticizes the American Dream by describing its negative characteristics: class struggles between the rich and the poor, the superficiality of the rich, and the false relationship between money and happiness. Furthermore, the main character also serves as a metaphor for the inevitable downfall of American Dream.

 

"The Great Gatsby ... describes the failure of the American dream, from the point of view that American political ideals conflict with the actual social conditions that exist. For whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people, the truth is that social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot be overcome" (Internet 1). It is impossible for all people to become rich, since material wealth is based largely on social position, and class divisions prevent the poor from becoming successful. "One thing's sure and nothing's surer / The rich get richer and the poor get -- children" (Fitzgerald 101). Myrtle's attempt to break into the group to which the Buchanans belong is doomed to fail. She enters into an affair with Tom, and takes on all the negative qualities of his social group; she not only becomes corrupt and immoral, but she scorns people from her own class. "I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe" (Fitzgerald 39). The adulterous behaviour of Myrtle and Tom, as well as the carelessness of Daisy and Jordan, illustrates the frivolity of the rich.

Both Tom and Daisy are morally corrupt, having little concern for how they treat the people around them. "Daisy and her husband display their indifference to human values in episodes involving sexual exploitation and careless violence" (Fahey 72). The Buchanans are not the only shallow ones, Jordan is "incurably dishonest" and her opinion that "'It takes two to make an accident,'" is an attempt to justify of her thoughtlessness (Fitzgerald 63). "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made," says Nick (Fitzgerald 187). Since the wealthy social class to which they belong is immoral, they can get away with being corrupt; a corruption that stems from a false sense of security in their money.

One of the faults in the American dream is that it equates material wealth and possessions with happiness. However, not everything, nor everyone, can be bought. Nick, for example, refuses Gatsby's business preposition. "But, because the offer...

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