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The American dream is a concept that anyone could make it in America and achieve their dreams (whether its wealth, love or stature, ect.) if you work hard enough to make it happen. In The Great Gatsby taking place in the roaring 20’s the author F. Scott Fitzgerald suggests how the american dream is unattainable and only that, a dream. Fitzgerald alludes to the idea that the people who pursue the American dream are shallow for the lack of remorse in their sacrifices for anything or anyone which poses as an obstacle to their goal. Fitzgerald goes on to imply that this dream will always feel out of reach and be your undoing. This essay analyzes the major theme of the Great Gatsby – American dream.
Jay Gatsby’s infatuation in achieving the American Dream is ultimately to be accepted in an elitist “old money” society in East Egg so he can be good enough for Daisy. When Nick comes home from dinner with Daisy and Tom Buchanan, he returns to Gatsby on the dock staring out at a green light across the bay, reaching out. “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.” Gatsby is longing for Daisy Buchanan who lives at the house across the bay. Gatsby and Daisy had a secret past of falling in love after WWI. Daisy and Gatsby met at a party where Daisy could not determine his wealth because he was in uniform. Gatsby wasn’t wealthy enough to marry Daisy so she married Tom years later. Gatsby went on to illegal shady businesses to gain his wealth after having Dan Cody’s inheritance stolen from him by Ella Kaye. Gatsby had Jordan Baker ask Nick the favor of inviting Daisy Buchanan for tea. During tea, Gatsby and Daisy rekindled the connection between them and their affair began. Later on Gatsby and Daisy tried to tell Tom that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore and Tom does not accept this. Then, Daisy, Gatsby, Nick, Jordan, and Tom go to the city. On the way back Daisy and Gatsby’s car hits Myrtle Wilson who is having an affair with Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan and kills her. After Tom sees Myrtle’s husband, George Wilson, who knew Myrtle was having an affair with Tom, he suggests that it was Gatsby in the yellow car who hit and had an affair with Myrtle. This caused George Willson to shoot Gatsby in his swimming pool while waiting to hear if his American Dream Daisy would call and say she was done with Tom and wanted to be with Gatsby. After Gatsby’s death Nick reflects on the green light across the bay, “and as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….” This displays the connection between the unattainable American Dream and Gatsby’s pursuit of it because even after putting everything into Daisy he is left with nothing, dead and alone with his memory tainted. The green light represents Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy and his wishes to be with her as his American Dream. The distance across the bay represents the obstacles between them and his journey to getting wealth and trying to become accepted into old money East Egg elites. However, this wasn’t good enough making it unobtainable and out of his reach. Nick’s realization that the American Dream is elusive and possibly can’t be obtained and makes you question the sacrifices that the characters made and whether the ends justify the means.
Daisy Buchanan’s pursuit of the American dream is shallow, materialistic, and simply about status, title, and being a part of the old money East Egg elites as a way to maintain the accommodations of the wealthy lifestyle she is accustomed to. Daisy is Nick Caraways cousin who fell in love with Gatsby before marrying Tom Buchanan. Daisies restless about the future and time moving; she wants to think of the next thing that she’s going to do in her life. “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?” cried Daisy, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?” By depicting Daisy as someone who can not afford to focus on the moment and appreciate what she has, Fitzgerald portrays how flawed the American dream is, and he describes how people often ignore memories by worrying more of what’s next. A perfect example of this is Daisy rejecting the love of Gatsby because Tom can provide more with his wealth towards Daisy’s false construct of wealth being equivalent to happiness. When Daisy and Tom got married she wouldn’t ever be happy with him because she objectified him into the materialistic things she received from him. Daisy’s glorified image of Tom is based on the gifts she has received from him, causing her to overlook Tom’s immoral character. Fitzgerald writes, “In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars”. This shows how Daisy is materialistic and loves grand expensive parties as a way to display her wealth and status for attention. Daisy is selfish and in the end even disregarded her own child and husband in her pursuit. Daisy’s American dream is a false reality on what makes you perceived as happy and glamorous among the elites only to deny love and any real chance at love based on a false construct of the American Dream. Daisy shows how even though she is born with, and has, everything money could buy, she will never be happy because she simply wants more.
In conclusion, the American Dream is unattainable and elusive and can give you false pretences and realities based on eliest social constructs. The people who pursue their american dream are shallow and neglect to care or think about their negative impact on others. In the end it was Gatsby’s immoral shallow pursuit that resulted in his downfall.
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