Time Essay

1710 words - 7 pages

Time, the most impersonal and brutal of juggernauts, cares for neither civilizations nor their cultures; it destroys with a simplistic ease that even the most ardent of warmongers could never achieve. How then can something as simple, as pure, and as vulnerable as a dream stand against the slow but steady stream of time, that beats like particles of sand against the bottom of an hourglass? For a dream to continue to nourish the minds of the masses generation after generation, it must adapt--change to better fit the new circumstances that a change in time invariably evokes. But as a dream changes, is it as pure, as innocent, and as high-minded as it once was? Could the American dream, which has hereto defined the very spirit of the era, have lost its original luster in its adaptation, mutation, and perversion? The American dream has traditionally been defined as the ability to achieve satisfaction, success, or greatness, through work. It states, rather ideally, that the only obstacle to greatness is contained within the dreamer and not the world; that if we as individuals work hard enough nothing can escape our grasp. Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, explores the ever-elusive nature of the American dream as he questions the very basis upon which we identify ourselves with. Fitzgerald does not, however, question whether the American dream drives us towards greatness as it once did; rather he questions the deficiencies present in our ability to drive, and the path that we take. With every blossoming and withering flower, change of season, and revealed façade, Fitzgerald chips away at the illusionary ‘greatness’ that so pervades the conception of the American dream, showing how its adaptations pervert its original spirit, and that its true fulfillment is in the past and not the future.

Nothing mortal endures the tests of time, and though beautiful for a short while, lawns, flowers, and gardens eventually wither and die. If even the Garden of Eden is subject to this natural law, how can the American dream exist outside of it? Fitzgerald through use of flower, garden, and lawn imagery suggests that perhaps the American dream, this “incorruptible dream”(154) that has defined and driven Americans since the Puritans, is no longer a reality in this day and age. Fitzgerald first introduces the concept that the modernized American dream is but an “imitation” when he makes parallels between Gatsby and his mansion, which is “spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy” (5). The new garden and 40 acres of lawn that define Gatsby’s mansion are therefore but imitations, and they cannot “[hold the] breath” of the “Dutch sailors’ eyes”, as the “old island…that flowered once” (180) can. Gatsby’s new ivy cannot “[pander] in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams” (180). Fitzgerald here is of course speaking of the American dream, which he claims is no longer attainable in its pure form. Gatsby, in “[wedding] his unutterable...

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