The Great Gatsby: American Dream Or American Nightmare?

1743 words - 7 pages ✓ Expert Reviewed

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The American Dream, a long standing ideal embodies the hope that one can achieve financial success, political power, and everlasting love through dedication and hard work. During the Roaring 20s, people in America put up facades to mask who they truly were. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald conveys that the American Dream is simply an illusion, that is idealist and unreal. In the novel, Gatsby, a wealthy socialite pursues his dream, Daisy. In the process of pursuing Daisy, Gatsby betrays his morals and destroys himself. Through the eyes of the narrator, Nick, one sees the extent of the corruption Gatsby is willing to undertake in order to achieve his dream. Although Fitzgerald applauds the American Dream he warns against the dangers of living in a world full of illusions and deceit; a trait common during the Roaring 20s. The language and plot devices Fitzgerald uses convey that lies and facades, which were common during the Guided Age, destroys one’s own character and morals. Through Fitzgerald use of symbolism, expectations, and relationships, he explores the American dream, and how it is an illusion that corrupts and destroys lives.

Through Fitzgerald’s symbolic description of Gatsby, he explores the extent of the American Dream’s deceptive nature that slowly destroys a person and his/her morals. During the Roaring 20s it was very common for people to project illusions to mask who they truly were; to fit in, it was almost essential to have one to survive in the highly materialistic and deceitful society. Nick is introduced as the objective narrator of the novel. At the start of the novel, after Nick has dinner at the Buchanans’, he sees Gatsby with “his arms stretch toward the dark water in a curious way” and Nick glances at the bay he sees “a single green light, minute and far away” at the opposite side (21). The green light symbolizes Gatsby's hopes and dreams, an illusion that slowly possesses him; specifically his American Dream, Daisy. Gatsby sees Daisy just as immigrants from foreign countries once saw America; as a symbol of hope, the ideal life, and a future full of opportunity. Gatsby lives solely for this green light, which that gives him a sense of identity and purpose. Gatsby's dream is initially pure but in the process of pursuing it, the vision becomes tainted. His American Dream slowly takes possession of Gatsby, warping his illusion and dreams into reality. For five years, after meeting Daisy, he yearns and longs for her slowly changing her in his mind into a god. Over time the real memories began to fade and his dreams of what she should be took her place in his mind. When Gatsby finally wins her over, he expects too much of her, leading her to feel distressed and pressured. The rope ultimately snaps when Gatsby pressures Daisy to say that she...

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