House Against Home in The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman

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About this sample


Words: 766 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Essay grade:

Words: 766|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Essay grade:

Table of contents

  1. The Symbolism of House in the Novels
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

In both F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby," and Arthur Miller's play, "Death of a Salesman," the authors employ the concept of the American Dream as it relates to the characters' living spaces, primarily their houses, to symbolize the pursuit of security, wealth, and happiness. This exploration of the American Dream reveals a stark contrast between the physical attainment of material success represented by the house and the emotional fulfillment embodied in the concept of home.

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The Symbolism of House in the Novels

In the American Dream narrative, the house serves as a visible indicator of social class and the extent to which the Dream has been realized in a tangible sense. The grandeur of Gatsby's mansion in "The Great Gatsby" exemplifies the ostentatious display of wealth, featuring opulent descriptions of its architecture and amenities. Gatsby's mansion becomes a symbol of his perceived success, and even after his death, his father clings to a photograph of the mansion as a testament to his son's material accomplishments. However, this fixation on material possessions and status ultimately obscures the deeper emotional fulfillment that remains elusive.

Despite the grandeur of Gatsby's mansion, it remains a hollow shell devoid of genuine human interaction. The lavish parties hosted there are attended by numerous guests, yet they fail to establish meaningful connections with Gatsby himself. Gatsby's attempts to transform his extravagant house into a loving home hinge on his unwavering love for Daisy. He hopes to create a sense of belonging and domesticity with her but is ultimately thwarted by her rejection. Daisy's decision to flee with her husband, Tom, instead of embracing the life Gatsby offers her underscores the superficiality of Gatsby's material success and highlights the emptiness of his existence. The house, while impressive in its grandeur, cannot provide the sense of home that Gatsby longs for.

In contrast to Gatsby's opulence, Willy Loman's house in "Death of a Salesman" is a modest lower-middle-class dwelling in Brooklyn. Despite the disparity in size between Gatsby's mansion and Willy's house, both characters have attained a degree of the American Dream by owning property. However, similar to Gatsby, Willy's fixation on material success blinds him to the true meaning of home. His relentless pursuit of financial security and escape from debt becomes his sole focus, overshadowing the potential for genuine human connection within the walls of his house.

Willy's tragic demise, just as he pays off his mortgage, epitomizes the futility of his pursuit. He recognizes the hollowness of his existence, lamenting, "Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it and there's nobody to live in it." Despite having two sons, Biff and Happy, Willy's relentless pursuit of financial success has left him with an empty house, devoid of the warmth and love that would have transformed it into a true home. His longing for a meaningful home life remains unfulfilled.

Penelope Trunk, in her article "Crafting the New American Dream," presents an alternative perspective on the American Dream, emphasizing the importance of fulfillment over financial achievement. Trunk's "new American Dream" prioritizes personal contentment and emotional well-being over material wealth and social status. Trunk's insight suggests that Gatsby and Willy's relentless pursuit of the traditional American Dream, marked by the acquisition of houses and financial success, ultimately detracts from their capacity to create loving homes.

Martha Stewart echoes this sentiment by quoting Samuel Johnson, stating that "to be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition." Stewart emphasizes that genuine happiness stems from creating a home filled with love, light, and joy for those we care about. Johnson and Stewart's wisdom reinforces the idea that a house is merely a structure, while a home is a place where emotional connections and personal fulfillment thrive.

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In conclusion, "The Great Gatsby" and "Death of a Salesman" both employ the symbolism of houses and homes to explore the American Dream's complexities. The authors reveal that the pursuit of material success alone, represented by the house, often leads to emptiness and unfulfilled lives. In contrast, the attainment of personal contentment, the essence of home, remains the true embodiment of the American Dream. The enduring relevance of this theme, from the early 20th century to the present day, underscores the profound impact of these literary works in challenging societal values and prompting reflection on the pursuit of true happiness.


  1. Fitzgerald, F. S. (1925). The Great Gatsby. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  2. Miller, A. (1949). Death of a Salesman. Penguin Books.
  3. Trunk, P. (2013). Crafting the New American Dream. Penelope Trunk Blog.
  4. Stewart, M. (2006). Introduction. In Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home (pp. xiii-xvii). Clarkson Potter.
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House Against Home in the Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman. (2018, April 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“House Against Home in the Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman.” GradesFixer, 18 Apr. 2018,
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