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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Use of Characters to Represent The American Dream

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The Great Gatsby, a novel written by writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the story of a young man, Nick, who finds himself in New York for the bond business. Through the narrator Nick, Fitgerald reveals the story of a man named Gatsby, and a woman named Myrtle to show the consequences of the American dream. Through these characters F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the message that though the American Dream is valid, it can often corrupt those who pursue it because it requires a person to strive for something additional (money/materialism/objects) than what currently have, even though those object cannot make them truly happy, causing those who follow the dream to be forever unsatisfied.

From the beginning of the novel, Fitzgerald is sympathetic towards Gatsby’s love for Daisy, however Fitzgerald reveals that Gatsby is in love with Daisy because she symbolizes wealth and the lifestyle he envies. Gaspby desires Daisy even though he had no conceivable way of being with her, due to his class. Even so, Gasby is still dedicated to his life to be worthy of her. Gaspy had met Daisy when he was poor and unaccomplished. When he came to her house Gaspby describes his emotions, “It amazed him … redolent … motorcars and of dances whose flowers were scarcely withered”. The imagery used in Gatsby’s amazement with his description of Daisy’s house reveals how Gatsby is in love with Daisy’s wealth and life, rather than just her. Gatsby desires the lifestyle and wealth she has because he does not have it. Gaspy even admits his attraction to money to nick. After when Nick and Gaspy are talking Gaspy says that “Her voice is full of money”. The metaphor used to describe daisy’s voice exposes that Gaspy looks at her as an object or investment. He sees her as a way to climb his social status. He believes he can attain her like any other object. Gaspy is aware that a poor man like himself cannot be with her and that his uniform keeps his identity unknown. Gatsby’s worry about Daisy discovering his social class indicates Fitzgerald’s idea that a person extremely wealthy, like Daisy, deeply cares about the social class of a man she will marry. Daisy will only marry a person in the same class as her because she cares more about her family’s money than the person she loves. This makes it quite impossible for Gaspby to marry Daisy. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s love toward Daisy to captivate this idea that a poor man, like Gaspy, envies what he does not have. Gatsby is corrupted into loving Daisy because of her ability to change his social class, even though it will not truly make him happy.

Throughout the story, Fitzgerald uses Daisy to display this message by making her become a symbol of the Americain dream. Fitzgerald uses Daisy to show that people cannot truly reach this dream, Gaspy chases her (American Dream), but can never reach her, even though since he was determined since he was a boy. Daisy (the dream) corrupted Gasby by making his whole life devoted to something he could never reach. Gatsby’s father explains to Nick that since Gaspy was a boy he was determined to be great. Gaspy was great had had all of the materialistic items he could desire, the lifestyle he envied in Daisys, but that wasn’t enough(could not make him truly happy), he needed more. Gaspy believes and is determined to revert his life to the past five years ago. This is, of course, impossible, but Gaspy doesn’t care. He devotes his whole life to her. She is the dream he wants the green light Gatsby stretches his arms out to on the other side of the water. She becomes larger than life to him. Nick recognizes that “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart”. The personification Fitzgerald uses illustrates how, in Gasby’s mind, he made her something no person could live up to. She becomes his way of knowing that he made it, that he is complete. Gatsby is willing to do anything to achieve his dream. One way he tries to achieve this dream through his parties. He has extravagant parties were “in his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and champagne”. The simile used to describe Gaspys parties reveal that it is a big event that is meant to attract people, in particular, Daisy. In an attempt to lure her to his house he hosted extravagant parties. In the end, it never works. All of the money he made, the parties he hosed the person he became, was not enough. Gaspy had all of the money and wealth he could desire, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy him, he needed something else.

The last character Fitzgerald creates to represent the terrible effects of this dream is Myrtle, a woman who is attracted to Tom because of his ability to satisfy her lust for materialistic items. Her lust ends up killing her in the end. She cheats on her husband because of Tom’s wealth. Tom allows her to get the materialistic items she desires even if it means threatening her marriage with George (how she got corrupted). Her love for George was not enough to satisfy her, she needed more. Soon after Nick first meets her the reader can imply her desire materialistic things and moving up her social status saying that she doesn’t care what she looks like and the clothing she wears. Myrtles is very subconscious about want she looks like and what she wears. She demands Tom to buy her material goods. When she does this it reveals she like Tom, in large part to the money he had and his ability to buy her things Wilson cannot. In the position she is in, being a woman and married to Wilson, she basically unable to change her social class, without Tom. Though she is not rich, she doesn’t have a terrible life with George, but she wanted more (her being corrupted by the dream). Later in the story, this lust for material items hurts her in the end. Gatsby’s extravagant car symbolizes materialism. This was the same car that ran over Myrtle leaving a horrible scene where “her left breast was swinging like a flap”. Fitzgerald’s gruesome depiction of Myrtle’s death reveals that her attraction to wealth and materialistic items killed her (killed by an object that symbolizes wealth). Again, she wants to live in the best of conditions, but they weren’t abysmal, yet she was unsatisfied. She wanted her materialistic items she couldn’t get from George, but in the end, her lust murders her.

Throughout the story, F. Scott Fitzgerald conveys the message that though the American Dream is valid, the people who follow it are unsatisfied because they want more, ultimately corrupting who they are in the end. Gatsby loves Daisy because he envies her lifestyle, something he does not have. He dedicated his whole life to this dream, but it ultimately never works. He couldn’t repeat the past. Then there’s Myrtle. She has an alright life but wants more due to her materialistic desires. She is willing to sacrifice her marriage to get more. This desire, in the end, brutally kills her. Fitzgerald believes that the Americain dream requires something no person can do, strive for something extra. No one can do it. There are things in life that are just unattainable no matter how hard someone tries.  

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Use Of Characters To Represent The American Dream. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
“F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Use Of Characters To Represent The American Dream.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
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