The Great Gatsby The American Dream
The American Dream, like the one defined in The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is one that is defined by the amount, and quality of items, and not one that revolves around your relationship to those around you. For example, Myrtle’s more intimate relationship with Tom is because of his money and what things he could provide for her, while she looks down upon her own husband because of his lack of money. Gatsby on the other hand is not wealthy because he particularly wants to be, but to attract the attention of Daisy, whom he loves, because of her addiction to all things lavish.
The glamor of the novel and it’s character come alive early on in the novel while Nick is coming up to Tom’s mansion.“Their house was even more elaborate than I had expected,” describes Nick who is the narrator, “A cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay”(11). As Nick arrives he is bewildered to see two young ladies laying on couches in such a careless and carefree way. The two girls, Nick and Tom sit down to have dinner while talking about meaningless and pointless things, like the book Tom reccomends to Nick. The Day After Nick decides to tag along with Tom into the city. While in the Valley of Ashes, Tom makes a stop at a gas station/ repair shop owned by George Wilson. We find out that this is the home of his mistress Myrtle who Jordan mentioned to Nick while having dinner with him the night before. Tom and Myrtle arrange to meet up later on that day and to have a little get together in a apartment that Tom has in New York. On the way there, after meeting up with Myrtle, she Decided that she wanted a puppie from a street merchant with a basket full of puppies. Tom decides to buy the dog for an more than he thinks is worth while Myrtle just goes on what she will have to have for the apartment. The effect of money on Myrtle is profound because of her lack of money with her husband George, which show that this new American dream is strong enough to even turn a wife against her husband so that she can achieve it.
Keeping the with the American dream, Fitzgerald uses the character Jay Gatsby to further show how people in the 1920’s were. Gatsby was born in a low social class. He fell in love with Daisy, a girl from the higher social rank, and tried to match up to her status. Daisy however rejected his marriage proposal because he was not wealthy enough and their difference in social status. He leaves her in order to earn enough money to reach her economic standards. He is said to have joined the army but it is possible that he earned his money through criminal activities. “He’s a bootlegger,” said the young ladies moving somewhere between his cocktails and flowers. “ ‘One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil’” (67).
When he finally attains enough wealth, he moves back close to Daisy. He throws extravagant parties hoping that by chance Daisy would turn up at one of them to have a chance to talk to her again. During one of the parties, he notices Jordan Baker, who he knew was friends with Daisy because he met her before he was shipped out to Europe. He then sends a servant to her “I beg your pardon but Mr. Gatsby would like to speak to you alone”(55). After her private chat with Gatsby, she emerges to tell Nick that her chat was “simply amazing”(57). Later Jordan asks Nick to invite Daisy over for tea while Gatsby is there to arrange a meeting between the both of them. Nick agrees to set up a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby. After the meeting, Gatsby takes Daisy to his house and shows of his wealth that he has attained to impress her. He brags about his nice house, big cars and all the nice shirts he has. He uses his appearance to further convince her that he has moved up in social status and chooses to wear his best outfit, and later shows her how much more of it he has in his closet. “…… and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in.” (90). He lies to Daisy that he has inherited all the wealth from his father for he did not want to admit that what he had was new money and what Daisy had was old money. ‘”I thought you inherited all your money?” “I did, old sport,” he said automatically, “but I lost most of it in the big panic – the panic of the war.” (97). Gatsby’s ideals were parallel to the typical American Dream. He wants to gain his objectives by using all his assets. The only objective Gatsby has is to relive the life he once left, a life with Daisy, but he lacks to see that she is now a different person. She is married to Tom and is a mother. He forces her to admit that she is in love with him in front of Tom but she only replies to him by saying that she loved him once but now Tom is her love. Although through his wealth he draws Daisy closer to him, he can’t get her back from Tom. Gatsby believes that with his money, he could buy anything and everything in life, including happiness. He is crushed when his dream to win Daisy back cannot be fulfilled. He tries till the very last straw to win her heart but fails.
At the end of the novel the total decline of the American dream becomes present with the death of Gatsby which could symbolize Fitzgerald’s own opinion on what the American dream has become and what should happen to this dream. The old American values and Goals were starting to reach non-existence in the 1920’s and Fitzgerald shows this through The Great Gatsby and the characters of Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom. To Fitzgerald the American dream is shallow and without meaning of any kind compared to the old fashioned values of family, kindness, and humbleness where as the new American Dream was to have anything one wanted and in order to reach it one could do anything the saw fit to obtain it. For example Gatsby’s underworld connections like Meyer Wolfsheim, and Myrtle’s willingness to break up a marriage to an honest man. Fitzgerald through his novel shows how aimless the American people were and how downfall fell upon the Americans who tried to reach this illusionary goals of the American Dream.