The American Dream

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, American literature Pages: 7 (3111 words) Published: October 14, 2008
To achieve higher expectations of success than the previous generations, and accomplishing what hasn't already been accomplished, can be considered the overall American Dream. Generally, every child wants to surpass the achievements of their parents as a natural act of competition and personal satisfaction. Throughout The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, and Death of a Salesman, there is a constant yearning desire to achieve the “American Dream;” whether it be reality or illusion. Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Miller, all portray the ideas of the American Dream relating to the time period that they are referring to. The strive to achieve a goal whether it be to be the wealthiest or achieve a great life by hard work seems to be the template for the original American dream in the books. To be able to support one’s family, have a decent job, a car, and a home, is the stereotypical, “American dream.” Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Miller incorporate their ideas of the American dream symbolically throughout their stories. In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald downplays the American dream in the sense that the wealthy people of the West and East Egg slightly forget about the hard work that goes along with the process in achieving the American dream. Gatsby, the main character in the story, achieves the American dream through a criminal background, without having to actually “work” for his success. The basis of the original American dream includes: putting hard work and effort forth, thus resulting in the glory of success and personal achievement. The old American dream gets destroyed or changed in the sense that the people are no longer dreaming for themselves or their family, the people are achieving the American dream, yet in all the wrong ways. In the story, Gatsby wants to win the love of a woman named Daisy. His attempt to win her heart includes his shortened version of the American dream. Gatsby would rather resort himself to criminal activity, rather than prolong the process of the true American dream and earn it morally. Gatsby’s morals about the American dream are non-existent and he degrades himself to the life of a criminal, rather than justly achieving the American dream through actual labor. Gatsby takes the quickest route to achieving the American dream and has lost all genuine meaning of it, thereby serving the American dream as an illusion. “I think he killed a man,” (Fitzgerald, 54 ). In this quote, Fitzgerald refers to Gatsby and gives hints about his criminal life throughout the story. Gatsby uses his criminal life in fulfilling the American dream and is blinded by the false route to money, fancy cars, and a big house. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald displays a whole new meaning of the American dream through an illusion. The yearn and the passion for the American dream gets lost in the discovery of the criminal way to the American dream. Fitzgerald clearly portrays through the protagonist, Gatsby, the lack of heart that the American people suffer from in this particular generation. The whole vision of the American dream becomes impaired when the people resort to using other tactics to illegally achieve the American dream. In the article entitled, The True Heir of the American Dream, Marius Bewley states that “The Great Gatsby is an exploration of the American dream as it exists in a corrupt period, and it is an attempt to determine that concealed boundary that divides the reality from the illusions.”(page 98) This comes to show that The Great Gatsby is more of a modern version of the American dream. In The Great Gatsby, the author demonstrates how the American dream has become quite different than that of the “old American dream.” As stated in The American Dream: All the Gush and Twinkle, Louis Auchincloss analyzes how, in The Great Gatsby, “It is the restless rich, with their greater freedom to experience life’s possibilities, to seek fulfillment in action and experimentation, who most clearly reveal the aridity at the...
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