The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘He paid a high price for living too long with a single dream’.
Explore the theme of dreams in ‘The Great Gatsby’. How significant is
this theme in other American texts you have read?
One of the principle themes of Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ is that
of dreams - all inextricably bound to the American Dream. The
ideology of spiritual and material success is one that is powerfully
explored through Jay Gatsby’s character and his passion for Daisy
Buchannan. The American Dream is justice, liberty, equality and
wealth which it claims, can all be achieved through thrift and hard
work. The theme of the American Dream or the Anti-Dream has and
continues to be frequently used as the central theme in American
Jay Gatsby’s dream is to gain, status, wealth and the love of Daisy
Buchannan, who embodies everything that Gatsby yearns for. The
setting of the novel represents the status that Gatsby dreams of.
Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby both live in West Egg, which is
representative of ‘new money’. Whereas Daisy and Tom Buchannan live
in East Egg, which is inhabited by people with ‘old money’. In
chapter 7, at the Plaza Hotel, Tom, deploring Gatsby’s advances to
Daisy, calls him ‘Mr. Nobody from Nowhere’. Given the rootless
drifting that seems to characterise the lifestyle of the Buchannans
and their class this criticism might seem misplaced. But Tom is
really asserting that America belongs to him and to his kind, and that
this upstart who has bypassed the orthodox channels to social
respectability has no claim to recognition. Utopia, the term for an
ideal society, is derived from Greek words meaning ‘Nowhere’. Gatsby
not only captures the utopian dream, but is, in a sense, a utopian
figure. Gatsby’s dream to be part of the ‘old money’ social circle
forces him to make-up stories, which complete a puzzle of the façade
he is trying to create. Nick claims that these stories are ‘like
skimming hastily through a dozen magazines’, and although he is
seduced by them, he also remains sceptical about their authenticity as
he had to ‘restrain [his] incredulous laughter’. Throughout the
novel, there is reference to a ‘green light’, which is situated at the
end of the Buchannan’s dock. This ‘green light’ becomes symbolic of
Gatsby’s dream. The first time Nick sees his neighbour Gatsby, he is
alone, with ‘his arms stretched towards the dark water in a curious
way’. Gatsby is reaching towards the ‘green light’, stretching his
arms out almost trying to capture his dream.
It becomes apparent...