American Dream In The Great Gatsby

Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his speak to his supporter in his campaign of Civil Rights: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed… we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Martin) His quote has portrayed the dream of all American to get equal opportunities on education, job and social statuses. The dream they long is politically named “The American Dream”. A Dream which said that one’s prosperity depends upon one’s own abilities and hard work, not on a rigid class structure, had given strength to poor immigrant from Europe to America. American dream becomes symbol of quest for money. They dreamed to achieve wealth in the promising New World by determination and hard work, while some indeed attain wealth through that method. However, in the industrialisation after the world war—year 1920’s, the mindset of American people changed. They became obsessed in pursuing instant wealth. Instead of choosing the traditional way of attaining wealth, many Americans has laid their finger on those activities that can make them rich in a short period of time. Bootlegging and illegal drug trading flourished, creating a materialistic society that lives with only pleasure. This has contributed to the erosion of the good values of American Dream. “Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty.” Ursula K. LeGuin, a famous fiction novel writer quoted in her speech “A Left Handed Commencement Address” which reflects the reality during 1920’s, the time that F. Scott Fitzgerald set his novel “The Great Gatsby”. (Ursula) In 1920’s, the gap between Poor and Rich was massive. The Rich were enjoying their life in pleasure and luxury while Poor were suffering in poverty and torments. This situation had driven the middle class people to achieve wealth through connection with the rich or illegal trading in order to accomplish the quest for money. In “The Great Gatsby”, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals how the Americans are corrupted in the pursuit for the American Dream through the main character, Jay Gatsby and a minor character, Myrtle Wilson which essentially reflects American Dream as a bad thing.

In The Great Gatsby, the American Dream is described as corrupted fantasy and a blind dream of wealth and pleasure. These negative attributes of American dream make it unworthy to pursue. In 1920’s, Americans particularly those in the east coast was overarching with cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure and wealth.

The main character of the novel, Jay Gatsby, was initially introduced as a enigmatic host of a lavish party in his huge castle-like mansion in West Egg. The extravagant feast attracted a vast number of people where most are not invited. The people come to take part in the spectacular luxury, get acquainted with the “interesting” people in the party. Nick Carraway narrated about the night when he was invited to Gatsby’s party. “I believe… I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited.” (Fitzgerald 47) This quote has signified the greed of Americans for false wealthy feeling that can be grabbed in a luxurious party even though they’re not invited.

Their dream of having an extravagant life was temporarily materialized in the sumptuous party. The enjoyment of the guests in the party are portrayed through a scene in the novel “…floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s name.”(Fitzgerald 46) The party symbolises the dream of the common people to be amongst the rich and the well-known one. The illusion of becoming a rich grew so overwhelming that all Americans seemed to after it even if it’s just being rich for a short moment. On the other scenario, Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, seduced Tom because of a simple reason: greed of wealth. She longed to get a grasp to the wealth which Tom possesses. In a scene where Myrtle is annoyingly repeating Daisy’s name in front of Tom, by “making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.” (Fitzgerald 43) This quote demonstrates how Tom treats Myrtle as a mere object to fulfil his desire. However, she doesn’t care. The wish to escape from her current low-standard of living with George Wilson which she regretted to be in enable her to endure Tom’s attitude toward her. The pathetic behaviour exhibited by Myrtle portrays how ridiculous Americans were when it comes to money and wealth. Hence, To the American, nothing seems to be more important than the pleasure from the luxury, lavish party and empty existence with the wealth they have. This all happens when people chase after the corrupted American Dream.

American dream is also portrayed as a one man’s dream—Gatsby’s dream to fulfil his ambition of becoming rich and to seize the love of Daisy, his young time lover which is finally not be realised. Jay Gatsby, who’s originally named, James Gatz, was a ambitious boy who fantasized to be rich. His encounter with Dan Cody, a wealthy miner marked the start of his career. Fitzgerald writes about Gatsby’s work: “He was employed in a vague personal capacity — while he remained with Cody he was in turn steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and even jailor, for Dan Cody sober knew what lavish doings Dan Cody drunk might soon be about…”(Fitzgerald 107) Form Dan Cody, he learnt about the way of life of a rich person and thus helped him in his road to wealth. Furthermore, his desire to become rich is later amplified when he fall in love with a beautiful nurse, Daisy in Army. The fact that Daisy lives in a luxurious life style arouses Gatsby’s interest on lavish assets and accessory. Nick narrates about the past of Gatsby when he went to Daisy’s: “It amazed him — he had never been to such a beautiful house before. But what gave it an air of breathless intensity, was that Daisy lived there—it was as casual a thing to her as his tent out as camp to him.”(Fitzgerald 154) His love to Daisy became a catalyst for his to attain his wealth.

Gatsby’s entanglement with Mr. Meyer Wolfshiem, mafia-related personnel who fixed the 1919 World’s Series demonstrates his involvement in underworld trading activities. According to Tom Buchanan’s “little” investigation about Gatsby, Gatsby and Wolfshiem brought up a lot of side street drug stores and sold grain alcohol over the counter. (Fitzgerald 140) Since the sale of alcohol was banned due to the Eighteen Amendment in 1919, the trading was illegal in United State. This can also be seen as Gatsby take any measure to obtain wealth, legally or illegally. The concept of American dream corrupted to a money-based illusion as Gatsby resorts to crime to make enough money to realize his own dream, which is to impress Daisy.

The ruin of Gatsby’s dream due to the rejection of Daisy ultimately symbolised the failure of pursuing the American dream. To obtain the wealth, Gatsby engaged in a variety of activities: drug business, oil business, and bootlegging. While Gatsby and Nick talked about Gatsby’s huge and gorgeous mansion, he said that “It took me just three years to earn the money that bought it.” (Fitzgerald 97) His hastiness to gain the affluent and wealthy image is due to the urge to impress Daisy in the short period of time. In addition, his original intention of lavish party held on every fortnight was to attract people, make him popular in that area and ultimately attract Daisy to come to his house. Nevertheless, he was unable to foresee the unfruitful future that might occur. Although Gatsby worked for years to achieve success and wealth in his life to impress Daisy and get her back, Daisy’s indirect rejection to his love has made his effort meaningless. His pursuit of a dream had ended in dust. American dream become just a fantasy for him. “ ‘You can’t repeat the past.’ ” (Fitzgerald 117) This warning that Nick given to Gatsby after a party with Daisy foreshadowed his incapability to recreate the past with Daisy. This excruciating reality has proven the fact that it’s impossible to reciprocate the past relationship and affections, thus epitomizes the destruction of American Dream. However, when Gatsby stops running after Daisy, he seemed to have relax from his long term endless quest for wealth and romance. After a long statement about his past with Daisy, he has poured out simple and significant words about his life:” You know, old sport, I’ve never used that pool all summer?” (Fitzgerald 159) “I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.” (Fitzgerald 168) This narration by Nick on the hand portrays the exhaustion in Gatsby’s heart for chasing after a dream that ended with rejection. Nevertheless, at least he now takes a rest from his long quest for his fantasy for Daisy. That is why pursuing American dream is evidently negative in the context of “The Great Gatsby” since the long exhausting hard work for a dream that fruits nothing good out of it, is not worth to pursue.

The American Dream was originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. However, in the novel, easy money and pleasure-seeking social value corrupted this dream, making it over-materialistic and unworthy to chase after.

The empty pursuit of pleasure, the blind chase for wealth and ambition and the ultimate ruin of dream have signifies one thing: pursuing American dream is not something good and should not be pursued endlessly. This is evident in the character of Jay Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson, and the white community of Egg Villages. A important quote said by Rene de Visme Williamson, a Harvard-trained professor of political theory highlights the unworthiness of American dream. (Rene) “If the American dream is for Americans only, it will remain our dream and never be our destiny.”

Work Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. London: Penguin Group, 1994.

Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes. 24 November 2008

Rene de Visme Williamson quotes. 24 November 2008

Ursula K. LeGuin quotes. 24 November 2008

Phillips, Brian. SparkNote on The Great Gatsby. 24 Feb. 2008 .

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Allegory Of American Pie By Don Mc Lean

Ask anyone what was the defining moment in the rock history of the 1960s was and all you will get is a one word answer: Woodstock. The three day rock festival that defined an era was only one of many music festivals of the '60s. But Woodstock has come to symbolize, "an era of peaceful, free- loving, drug- taking hippie youth, carefree before harsher realities hit..." (Layman 40). The Woodstock festival ended a century filled with many metamorphoses of rock'n'roll, from the era of pop music to the rebirth of folk music to the invention of acid rock. But some cynics say that rock'n'roll died with the death of Buddy Holly before the 60s even began. One such person is Don McLean. The poet behind the haunting epic song about the death of 'danceable' music, McLean wrote the ever popular song, "American Pie" (appendix 1). The most important song in rock'n'roll history, "American Pie", is the song about the demise of rock'n'roll after Buddy Holly's death and the heathenism of rock that resulted. Although McLean himself won't reveal any symbolism in his songs, "American Pie" is one of the most analyzed pieces of literature in modern society. Although not all of its secrets have been revealed, many "scholars" of the sixties will agree that the mystery of this song is one of the reasons it has become so successful- everyone wants to know the meanings of its allegories. Proof of "American Pie's" truth lies in the allegory of the song. Many People enjoy the song but have no idea what it means- Who is the Jester? What is the levee? When the deeper story is found, the importance of the song is unearthed. "American Pie" is not only a song, it is an epic poem about the course of rock'n'roll...

Carl Orffs Philosophies In Music Education

While Carl Orff is a very seminal composer of the 20th century, his greatest success and influence has been in the field of Music Education. Born on July 10th in Munich, Germany in 1895, Orff refused to speak about his past almost as if he were ashamed of it. What we do know, however, is that Orff came from a Bavarian family who was very active in the German military. His father's regiment band would often play through some of the young Orff's first attempts at composing. Although Orff was adamant about the secrecy of his past, Moser's Musik Lexicon says that he studied in the Munich Academy of Music until 1914. Orff then served in the military in the first world war. After the war, he held various positions in the Mannheim and Darmstadt opera houses then returned home to Munich to further study music. In 1925, and for the rest of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich where he worked with musical beginners. This is where he developed his Music Education theories. In 1937, Orff's Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt, Germany. Needless to say, it was a great success. With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff orphaned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the En trata which were rewritten to be acceptable by Orff. One of Orff's most admired composers was Monteverdi. In fact, much of Orff's work was based on ancient material. Orff said: I am often asked why I nearly always select old material, fairy tales and legends for my stage works. I do not look upon them as old, but rather as valid material. The time element disappears, and only the spiritual power remains. My...

Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to. No exception to this idiom is Johann Sebastian Bach, whose impact on music was unforgettable to say the least. People today look back to his writings and works to both learn and admire. He truly can be considered a music history great. Bach, who came from a family of over 53 musicians, was nothing short of a virtuosic instrumentalist as well as a masterful composer. Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, he was the son of a masterful violinist, Johann Ambrosius Bach, who taught his son the basic skills for string playing. Along with this string playing, Bach began to play the organ which is the instrument he would later on be noted for in history. His instruction on the organ came from the player at Eisenach's most important church. He instructed the young boy rather rigorously until his skills surpassed anyone?s expectations for someone of such a young age. Bach suffered early trauma when his parents died in 1695. He went to go live with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who also was a professional organist at Ohrdruf. He continued his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well as introducing him to the harpsichord. The rigorous training on these instruments combined with Bach?s masterful skill paid off for him at an early age. After several years of studying with his older brother, he received a scholarship to study in Luneberg, Germany, which is located on the northern tip of the country. As a result, he left his brother?s tutelage and went to go and study there. The teenage years brought Bach to several parts of Germany where he...

Michelangelo

Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo?s poetry was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi even though he was complementing him. Michelangelo?s sculpture brought out his optimism. Michelangelo was optimistic in completing The Tomb of Pope Julius II and persevered through it?s many revisions trying to complete his vision. Sculpture was Michelangelo?s main goal and the love of his life. Since his art portrayed both optimism and pessimism, Michelangelo was in touch with his positive and negative sides, showing that he had a great and stable personality. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo Buonarroti was called to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II to create for him a monumental tomb. We have no clear sense of what the tomb was to look like, since over the years it went through at least five conceptual revisions. The tomb was to have three levels; the bottom level was to have sculpted figures representing Victory and bond slaves. The second level was to have statues of Moses and Saint Paul as well as symbolic figures of the active and contemplative life- representative of the human striving for, and reception of, knowledge. The third level, it is assumed, was to have an effigy of the deceased pope. The tomb of Pope Julius II was never finished. What was finished of the tomb represents a twenty-year span of frustrating delays and revised schemes. Michelangelo had hardly begun work on the pope?s tomb when Julius commanded him to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to complete the work done in the previous century under Sixtus IV. The overall organization consists of four large triangles at...

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin Ireland on October 16, 1854. He is one of the most talented and most controversial writers of his time. He was well known for his wit, flamboyance, and creative genius and with his little dramatic training showing his natural talent for stage and theatre. He is termed a martyr by some and may be the first true self-publicist and was known for his style of dress and odd behavior. Wilde, 1882 His Father, William Wilde, was a highly accredited doctor and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a writer of revolutionary poems. Oscar had a brother William Charles Kingsbury along with his father's three illegitimate children, Henry, Emily, and Mary. His sister, Isola Emily Francesca died in 1867 at only ten years of age from a sudden fever, greatly affecting Oscar and his family. He kept a lock of her hair in an envelope and later wrote the poem 'Requiescat' in her memory. Oscar and his brother William both attended the Protora Royal School at Enniskillen. He had little in common with the other children. He disliked games and took more interest in flowers and sunsets. He was extremely passionate about anything that had to do with ancient Greece and with Classics. Wilde during school years In 1871, he was awarded a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin and received many awards and earned the highest honor the college offered to an undergraduate, the Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he also won the College's Berkley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford, Oscar moved to London with his friend Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter of the time. In 1878 his poem Ravenna was published, for which he won the...

The History Of Greek Theater

Theater and drama in Ancient Greece took form in about 5th century BCE, with the Sopocles, the great writer of tragedy. In his plays and those of the same genre, heroes and the ideals of life were depicted and glorified. It was believed that man should live for honor and fame, his action was courageous and glorious and his life would climax in a great and noble death. Originally, the hero's recognition was created by selfish behaviors and little thought of service to others. As the Greeks grew toward city-states and colonization, it became the destiny and ambition of the hero to gain honor by serving his city. The second major characteristic of the early Greek world was the supernatural. The two worlds were not separate, as the gods lived in the same world as the men, and they interfered in the men's lives as they chose to. It was the gods who sent suffering and evil to men. In the plays of Sophocles, the gods brought about the hero's downfall because of a tragic flaw in the character of the hero. In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldly matters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how an audience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurable experience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex he considered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at his definition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence for more than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, most significantly Shakespeare. Aristotle's analysis of tragedy began with a description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a "catharsis" or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis was the purging of two specific emotions, pity and...

Scholarship Essay About Goals

Ever since I was a young kid I have always been interested with aircraft. I was so curious of how airplane's fly. I remember taking my toys apart to see how it works. As a kid I wanted to go to the airport to watch the airplanes land and fly and pondered how this happens. Other kids wanted to go to the amusement places. As I grew older I became more and more interested in aircraft and the technology behind it. I always involved myself with aviation early on. I read books and magazines on aviation, took museum tours, built model airplanes. When I was younger my father would take me to aircraft repair facilities where I would watch in great fascination. In my teens, went up to the military bases and befriended many soldiers involved with aircraft and asked them numerous questions. I got to meet many aeronautics engineers and borrowed their old textbooks and read them till the wee hours of the morning. As technology improved with information superhighway, I logged on the web. Stayed up for hours and hours searching through web pages and web pages of information about aircraft and technology. I started my elementary school in the Philippines, then we moved to U.S. and continued my high school education and graduated. Enrolled at the CCSF to pursue my college education and now I am in the 2nd year in CCSF taking aeronautics. My goal now is to obtain my AS degree from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) so I can transfer to a University and get a Bachelors degree and to continue for my Masters degree in Aeronautics Engineering. I will strive hard to reach the peak level of my career which is a Professor and hopefully to be an aeronautic professor so...

Circus Circus Enterprises Case Studies

Executive Summary: Circus Circus Enterprises is a leader and will continue to be in the gaming industry. In recent years, they have seen a decline in profit and revenue; management tends to blame the decrease on continuing disruptions from remodeling, expansion, and increased competition. Consequently, Circus has reported decreases in its net income for 1997 and 1998 and management believes this trend will continue as competition heightens. Currently the company is involved in several joint ventures, its brand of casino entertainment has traditionally catered to the low rollers and family vacationers through its theme park. Circus should continue to expand its existing operations into new market segments. This shift will allow them to attract the up scale gambler. Overview Circus Circus Enterprises, Inc founded in 1974 is in the business of entertainment, with its core strength in casino gambling. The company?s asset base, operating cash flow, profit margin, multiple markets and customers, rank it as one of the gaming industry leaders. Partners William G. Bennett an aggressive cost cutter and William N. Pennington purchased Circus Circus in 1974 as a small and unprofitable casino. It went public in 1983, from 1993 to 1997; the average return on capital invested was 16.5%. Circus Circus operates several properties in Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, and one in Mississippi, as well as 50% ownership in three other casinos and a theme park. On January 31,1998 Circus reported net income of 89.9 million and revenues of 1.35 billion, this is a down from 100 million on 1.3 billion in 1997. Management sees this decline in revenue due to the rapid and extensive expansion and the increased competition that Circus is facing. Well established in the casino gaming industry the corporation has its focus in the entertainment business and has particularly a popular theme resort concept....

Effect Of Civil War On American Economy

The Economies of the North and South, 1861-1865 In 1861, a great war in American history began. It was a civil war between the north and south that was by no means civil. This war would have great repercussions upon the economy of this country and the states within it. The American Civil War began with secession, creating a divided union of sorts, and sparked an incredibly cataclysmic four years. Although the actual war began with secession, this was not the only driving force. The economy of the Southern states, the Confederacy, greatly if not entirely depended on the institution of slavery. The Confederacy was heavily reliant on agriculture, and they used the profits made from the sale of such raw materials to purchase finished goods to use and enjoy. Their major export was cotton, which thrived on the warm river deltas and could easily be shipped to major ocean ports from towns on the Mississippi and numerous river cities. Slavery was a key part of this, as slaves were the ones who harvested and planted the cotton. Being such an enormous unpaid work force, the profits made were extraordinarily high and the price for the unfinished goods drastically low in comparison; especially since he invention of the cotton gin in 1793 which made the work all that much easier and quicker. In contrast, the economical structure of the Northern states, the Union, was vastly dependent on industry. Slavery did not exist in most of the Union, as there was no demand for it due to the type of industrial development taking place. As the Union had a paid work force, the profits made were lower and the cost of the finished manufactured item higher. In turn, the Union used the profits and purchased raw materials to use. This cycle...

Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Trade Embargoes

Although I am a strong critic of the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, such as trade embargoes, for the sake of this assignment, I will present both their theoretical advantages and their disadvantages based upon my research. Trade embargoes and blockades have traditionally been used to entice nations to alter their behavior or to punish them for certain behavior. The intentions behind these policies are generally noble, at least on the surface. However, these policies can have side effects. For example, FDR's blockade of raw materials against the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s arguably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in U.S. involvement in World War II. The decades-long embargo against Cuba not only did not lead to the topple of the communist regime there, but may have strengthened Castro's hold on the island and has created animosity toward the United States in Latin America and much suffering by the people of Cuba. Various studies have concluded that embargoes and other economic sanctions generally have not been effective from a utilitarian or policy perspective, yet these policies continue. Evaluation of the effectiveness of Trade Embargoes Strengths Trade embargoes and other sanctions can give the sender government the appearance of taking strong measures in response to a given situation without resorting to violence. Sanctions can be imposed in conjunction with other measures to achieve conflict prevention and mitigation goals. Sanctions may be ineffective: goals may be too elusive, the means too gentle, or cooperation from other countries insufficient. It is usually difficult to determine whether embargoes were an effective deterrent against future misdeeds: embargoes may contribute to a successful outcome, but can rarely achieve ambitious objectives alone. Some regimes are highly resistant to external pressures to reform. At the same time, trade sanctions may narrow the...