This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Great Gatsby As An Exploration Of The American Dream

2053 words - 8 pages

The Great Gatsby as an Exploration of the American Dream

      The American Dream lies deeply rooted in the American cultural imagination. The idea behind the Dream is that if an individual is sufficiently determined, he or she has a fair chance of achieving wealth, and the freedom and happiness that go with it. Essentially, it offers the opportunity of achieving spiritual and material fulfillment. "Although these ideals can be traced back to the original settlers, perhaps one of the earliest written manifestations of the Dream can be found in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence"(Spindler 41). The document promises the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to all citizens. "The Great Gatsby" is both an evocation and a condemnation of these values, for whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality, the truth is that social discrimination and divisions of class are not so easily overcome. The behavior of Fitzgerald's upper classes is also a comment on the failure of the American Dream: "their decadence and carelessness show how material success has destroyed spiritual life"(Posnock 207 ).


Jay Gatsby is unquestionably the most prominent example of both the successes and failures of the American Dream. Initially, he appears to follow in its tradition, the archetypal self-made man. Nick Carraway, newly arrived in West Egg, sees Gatsby's enormous imitation-French mansion with its "marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawns and gardens" and assumes he is just another member of the fashionable super-rich. Yet Gatsby is not the "florid and corpulent" man Nick expects. He is young, elegant and charming. Nick has established himself to be a good judge of character, and when he instantly likes and approves of Gatsby, he guides the reader to do the same. Gatsby is something of an enigma at first. Nick cannot understand how such a young man can "drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound". At this point in the novel, Gatsby is living the American Dream; a self made, wealthy man, he is a shining example of how hard work can lead to material success. Gatsby's mansion also provides the location for his lavish parties. However, when Nick attends one such party he finds Gatsby to be the focus of malicious gossip, suggesting all is not well. Gatsby's true past, or at least a fraction of it, is not revealed until the end of chapter four, and the full story until chapter eight.


"Jay Gatsby" confesses to have been the carefully constructed creation of his seventeen year-old self, James Gatz. Gatsby has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve wealth and success through imagination and determination. The child of "shiftless and unsuccessful farm people", he manages to cross the class barrier and escape from his humble beginnings. Gatsby raises himself above working class obscurity through hard work and persistence - he has risen above the "hot struggles of the poor"....

Find Another Essay On The Great Gatsby as an Exploration of the American Dream

The Death of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

2232 words - 9 pages he was the best of the lot" (Young). Although a good idea, the American dream died and it was shown throughout the novel The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby shows the true life fall of the idealism of the American dream. The American Dream fell in the real world as it fell at about the same time period as it was written in The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby, symbolizing the American dream, continued on a downward spiral into an eventual brutal death, as did the American dream.

The Fall of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

1794 words - 7 pages tragic disappearance of the American dream which, in some ways, has turned to nightmare.” In The Great Gatsby, everyone's American Dream became an American nightmare because of their warped ideals that made up what the American Dream was to them. As soon as you start perverting the basic and original meaning of the American Dream, it becomes harder and harder to achieve. You will never be happy if you change the meaning of love or if you constantly

The Downfall of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

928 words - 4 pages The American Dream is an idea. A fantasy in which there is complete prosperity and success. It was about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. The American Dream filled the hopes and desires of every person in the country, as it became a national ethos. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald instead presents this spirit as a corruption, as the people who purse it fall into the misconduct of money. Corrupt values, greed, and

The Great Gatsby and the “American Dream”

1009 words - 5 pages the “American Dream”. The "American dream" can be explained simply as a better life obtained through hard work and determination. It is supposed to result in happiness for whoever achieves the dream. However, this “American Dream” can have different meanings to everyone. This includes two of the main characters of The Great Gatsby: Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Each character had a distinct interpretation of the “American Dream”. The title

The Great Gatsby: The Corruption of the American Dream

1221 words - 5 pages can be seen clearly in F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ where there are a variety of characters that are living or seeking The American Dream. Whether it was Daisy and Tom Buchanan who were supposedly living the perfect lifestyle, Jay Gatsby who found himself submerged in money and always throwing parties for the higher class population of New York as well as Daisy, or Myrtle Wilson who throughout the novel seeked to be a high

The Residue of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

879 words - 4 pages In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald elucidates the hollowness of the American Dream, as the unrestrained longing for wealth and freedom exceeding more honorable desires. He illuminates the idea that having or attaining this American Dream will result in unethical behavior or unethical acts. In the novel Jay Gatsby, the main protagonist, was born to a poor and underprivileged family in North Dakota. He devoted his life when he was an adolescent

The Emptiness of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

1467 words - 6 pages resolves everyone’s hopes. In the world of Gatsby achieving the Dream is impossible unless one is to abandon all sense of propriety and become as “careless”, cruel, and essentially empty as Tom and Daisy. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print. Turner, Fredrick J. "Turner: The Frontier In American History." Turner: The Frontier In American History. University of Virginia, 30 Sept. 1997. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

Buying the american dream: "The Great Gatsby"

1832 words - 7 pages believes he can buy happiness, he can buy Daisy, and he can achieve a level of admiration in succulent East Egg. Gatsby is an excellent personification of someone trying to buy happiness. Buying the American Dream is something that almost everyone does, yet it never works, it is never enough. LBJ believed in personal happiness. He believed that only oneself, no outside influence such as money, could make oneself happy. Therefore, " . . . Our

"The Great Gatsby" and the American Dream

676 words - 3 pages A chance to better oneself; the American Dream allowed anyone, rich or poor to succeed in life. During the twenties, many poor attempted to better themselves by getting a secure job, starting a family and owning a home and a car with the aim of joining the upper class citizens of America. Many works of literature depict this idea of "poverty to riches" by way of the American Dream. In the novel, "The Great Gatsby", Jay Gatsby, formerly James

The Great Gatsby : The American Dream

791 words - 3 pages , for example, “I’d never seen a girl so mad about her husband” (p. 76) Jordan says, on how Daisy felt after marrying Tom. She wanted Gatsby. Or rather, she wanted to have a nice husband that would be a caring, rich gentleman. And Gatsby fills that idea up perfectly.      Daisy is seeking her own version of the American Dream, and Gatsby just happens to be in it, just as Daisy happens to be in Gatsby’s Dream. The idea that

The Great Gatsby and The American Dream

1444 words - 6 pages --as Gatsby's go-ahead sign, as money, as the "green breast of the new world," as springtime--is strategically placed in chapters one, five, and nine.(Bryant,515). Also Fitzgerald illustrates the American Dream and its corruption is through the hollowness of the upper class. The Great Gatsby really study wealth. It was two different depictions of wealth. The time frame really played a key in wealth. The two wealth indicated in the novel was the

Similar Essays

Fitzgerald's Exploration Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

722 words - 3 pages conclusion, Fitzgerald explores The American Dream in great detail to expose the darkness and beauty of America and its lifestyle. Through Gatsby, Fitzgerald educates his readers on the decline of the dream and our society as a whole. The Great Gatsby touches base with such elements as greed, power, shallowness, and the urge to gain empty happiness. He makes Gatsby an example of a blinded naïve soul who becomes destroyed because of others lack of morality and kindness. This leaves readers with a warning to be hard working, honest, independent, and a good sense of reality in our world.

Great Gatsby: The American Dream Essay

740 words - 3 pages The Great Gatsby: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties The Great Gatsby is a tale told by Nick Carraway, about the Roaring Twenties. In this story it shows how dreams can conquer and corrupt people’s common sense and good judgment. Throughout this book the main theme is the “American Dream”, and how the goals of society sometimes affected what the character did to accomplish their American Dream. In this story the chasing of the American Dream led

A Discussion Of The American Dream As Represented In "American Beauty" And "The Great Gatsby"

1491 words - 6 pages . His father is an empathetic character, and Fitzgerald uses him to develop the character of Gatsby- his childhood, and his ambition.Fitzgerald sees the American dream crumbling in the 1920s, as America's powerful optimism, vitality, and individualism become subordinated to the amoral pursuit of wealth.Gatsby tells Nick a number of stupendous untruths, which follow Gatsby's journey of transforming himself for Daisy. He seeks Daisy, a woman whose

The American Dream As Shown In The Novels The Grapes Of Wrath And The Great Gatsby

572 words - 2 pages corruption of materialism within its purity.Unlike The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath does not focus on the corruption of the Dream as much as it focuses on the corruption of the people withholding the Dream. California is a Garden of Eden, but it is a garden with "guards with shotguns patrolling the lines so a man might not pick an orange for a thin child, oranges to be dumped if the price was low" (Steinbeck 319). The Joads were not "son[s] of