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The present paper is concerned with the review of theme of the American dream in Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. Through the characters Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, the author shows a failure in earning this dream. The fall of Gatsby’s tempt to allure Daisy proves that wealth and blind faith in life’s possibilities are not enough for a man to reach his aim.
Keywords: literature American dream philosophy
“The American Dream“: what does it mean? Material prosperity, richness, power are the basic values of “The American Dream”. For many people, the dream is found only upon earning a higher standard of living. Jay Gatsby was one of these people who lived his life in chase of money and power.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is an image of the cynic surrounding the American Dream. Gatsby successfully avoided beggary and was able to achieve millions of dollars and sweeping fame within a few years. The American Dream proposes Gatsby the opportunity to “suck on the pap of life, to gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder” (Fitzgerald 121). Anyway, Gatsby must live on a lonely pedestal in order to experience the wonders that the dream has to propose. In spite of his renown and fame, Gatsby becomes isolated from the rest of society, absolutely alone with his money. Jay Gatsby had an affair with Daisy Fay before he got his wealth. When Daisy married Tom Buchanan, Gatsby resolved that he would have to make a chance in order to win her back. Jay Gatsby does not comprehend how wealth works in upper class. He harmlessly supposes that he can buy anything – including Daisy. It shows in his conversation with Nick Carraway: “”You can’t repeat the past.” – “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”” (Fitzgerald 150). Gatsby is so delirious to earn his dream, that he lets his despair be the only thing that leads him. In spite of the achievement that what attracts him to Daisy is her gorgeous and rich life – “Her voice is full of money” (Fitzgerald 161): Gatsby stood dedicated to his aim till the end of his life. His sentimental idealism stays alive, even when he sees the emptiness of Daisy’s thoughtless life. For Daisy Buchanan money takes primacy over all, even when battling for genuine love. Daisy continuously tries to keep herself active through social liveliness and interaction, which deal with wealth: “”What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years?”” (Fitzgerald 149).
All over the novel, Fitzgerald shows how dreams are corrupted, no matter what the dreams consist of, wealth, material status, or just simply to be joyful. Fitzgerald also shows that the crash of the American Dream is inevitable in a sense that nothing can be as excellent as one could imagine: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by
year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow
we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther” (Fitzgerald 234). Gatsby’s pride means the American Dream. He believes that in spite of his hollow past and lack of education, he can succeed on the basis of his capabilities, hard work and wealth. Gatsby does everything – permit and not permit in order to aim the money and power that will convince Daisy. In order to become wealthy, Gatsby persuaded in illegal business such as bootlegging and being connected with the Mafia: “He and this Wolfsheim bought and sold grain alcohol over the counter” (Fitzgerald 133). This distinguishes that Gatsby is resolved to earn his aim and is ready to put all the attempts needed to reach his high set goal. Without expectations or dreams life would be dull, as shown by Tom and the Buchanans: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness” (Fitzgerald 233).
The upper class described in The Great Gatsby betrays ethic and goodness in order to aim money. Tom Buchanan from a wealthy family, he seems to have lost honor and righteousness. “Now he was a sturdy-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and supercilious manner” (Fitzgerald 7). Buchanan’s money makes him to become bumptious and selfishness of others lacking any morals. In place of helping others, Tom ruins their families and lives. He takes away Myrtle from her adoring husband, Wilson, and puts an end to their wedlock. She has plainly been allured by the rich, bright lifestyle that Tom’s wealth can offer her, and when she can she attempts to belong to that set already. Myrtle hunts pleasure and meaning in her life by trying to pretend the characteristics and lifeway of the rich. Given the misery and filth of the Valley of Ashes, we cannot really censure her, even though the feature of the American Dream that she sticks to is a decreased one, the image of customer prodigality and the facility to throw money around – as when she says to Mrs. McKee: “I’m going to give you this dress as soon as I’m through with it. I’ve got to get another one tomorrow. Once money becomes intense, true, binding relationships between loved ones no longer exist” (Fitzgerald 33). This holds rightful for Tom, who does not worry about his own family, forgetting the case that he has a spouse and a kid to take care of. He leaves his visitors and spouse at dinner to speak with his paramour: “”The rumor is,” whispered Jordan, “that that is Tom’s girl on the telephone”” (Fitzgerald 116). Tom’s wealth gap him from his virtues, spouse and following the American Dream.
In spite of that, the failure in Gatsby’s personal dream also typifies the fall of the American Dream on the whole in which social distinction and class divisions, and hollow happiness and the decay of values and ideals prevail. The novel is a perfect mental note that wealth cannot make the world revolves around, after all.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby” Addison Wesley Longman Inc. 9 June, 2000.