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From the moment America was founded, people have flocked to the country in search of reaching the American Dream, the opportunity for all citizens to be successful regardless of social class. F. Scott Fitzgerald brings the validity of the American Dream into question in his novel The Great Gatsby, as the main character, Jay Gatsby, is unable to attain the American Dream (reuniting with his lover, Daisy). Gatsby attempts to reach his dream by gaining wealth and meeting Daisy again, but he ends up desiring more from his end result – leading to the ultimate demise of his dream and himself. The changing seasons of summer to autumn are associated with a respective change in the development of a dream, as dreams develop in the summer but eventually fail in the fall. Fitzgerald uses transitioning seasons to show that the American Dream can never be fully attained because people are constantly striving for more than what is achievable.
The relationship between Gatsby and Daisy was rekindled during the summer, a season representing the growth and renewal of relationships as well as the American Dream. Although it takes a while for Gatsby to attract Daisy’s attention, once they reconnected he felt that there were “twinkle-bells of sunshine in the room” and he began to smile “like an ecstatic patron of recurrent light”. Gatsby had waited for years to win Daisy’s love and was finally reaching his goal. But the instant the two began to fall in love again, all of the expectations he had from their relationship would be gone. Gatsby’s second chance of love with Daisy represents the moment his dream became a reality and could have been the moment in which he achieved his American Dream. However, he realized at that moment that he desired more than just reclaiming his past love, he wanted to marry his new lifestyle to Daisy. This is similar to the American Dream because everyone with a predetermined version of success will reach a point where they are close to reaching their goals. But instead of being satisfied with the success they have, they allow their greed to ruin their achievements.
Eventually, the early summer is replaced by the scorching heat of the summer solstice. The late summer symbolizes the increasing tension between Gatsby and Daisy’s love as the confrontation at the plaza takes place on a day that was “broiling… certainly the warmest, of the summer”. As the conflict escalates, Gatsby attempts to stay calm and win the argument against Tom by requesting Daisy to “tell him…that she never loved Tom”. Although Gatsby finally had a relationship with Daisy that he had always wanted, it was not enough for him. Gatsby wants Daisy to love only him, but she cannot lie that she was never in love with Tom. Gatsby’s dream, like the American Dream, forced him to have a fixed mindset and did not allow for any version of the dream to come true – it was all or nothing. The heat of the summer changed the initial perspective of Gatsby’s American Dream and caused him to want more than what was achievable, losing Daisy in the process.
As the seasons transition to autumn, the cycle of life begins to complete itself and all dreams and relationships created in the spring, begin to die. Gatsby’s own statements caused him to lose his precious relationship with Daisy as she recognized that he wants too much from her. However, only Daisy lets go of the relationship, Gatsby continues to live his delusional dream and hopes that she will come back for him. He assumed that life would begin “all over again when it got crisp in the fall,” but he failed to realize the irony in this logic since he had already lost his chance with Daisy and his dream along with her. Gatsby’s life ends with his dreams when he decides to use the pool he could have been in all summer in autumn. He passes away holding onto his dream of having Daisy and with an incomplete vision of what his life would have been. Similarly, those that believe in the American Dream will eventually pass away, unable to attain their goals due to always wanting more. In attempting to create an idealized version of reality from desire, one can never be satisfied since nature causes people to strive for things beyond what they have the ability to possess.
As the seasons change, people’s situations and relationships change as well, causing them to want more from their life. This is reflected in the American Dream as people slowly begin to desire more than what they initially wanted. This festering greed usually results in any progress made to be lost, which ultimately leads to unfulfilled dreams. The loss of the American Dream connects to modernism in the early 20th century (the time period of the Great Gatsby) as well as optimism for the future. People began to realize that all cycles of life, hopes, and dreams would eventually cease, leading to the acknowledgment that the American Dream could never be reached. Just like life, dreams must come to an end, and when they do all progress is lost with it.
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