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Keeping the American Dream Alive in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, a novel by F.Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream and how it remained as one. The American Dream is to have a lot of money and material objects. To the eyes of the world, the Americans were wealthy and there was no poverty. This however was not true. Many interpreted the American Dream as being a passage to high social status, an opportunity to get what they wanted, and through wealth and power, one could gain happiness. Fitzgerald through his novel shows how aimless the American people were and how downfall fell upon the Americans who tried to reach this illusionary goal of the American Dream. Fitzgerald uses the character, Jay Gatsby, to show how people in the 1920s were. Gatsby was born in a low social class.

He has dreamt of being rich and famous since he was young. He fell in love with Daisy, a girl from a higher social rank, and tried to match up to her status. Daisy however rejected his marriage proposal because he was not wealthy enough and there a 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 he earned his money through bootlegging and involvement in 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’ “ (Fitzgerald 67).

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When he finally attains enough wealth, he moves back close to Daisy. “ Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be across the bay (Fitzgerald). He throws extravagant parties hoping by chance Daisy would turn up for any one of them. When this did not happen, then he started to ask around if anyone knew her. This is how he met Nick, his neighbour and Daisy’s second cousin. Nick agrees to set up a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby. He shows 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 while greeting her at the door when she came.

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He 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-coloured tie, hurried in.” (Fitzgerald 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.” (Fitzgerald 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. He lacks to see that Daisy 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. He admits that he was the one who was behind the wheel of the car that killed Myrtle Wilson.

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This ultimately leads to his death. Wilson kills him. The death of Gatsby is no more significant because his death was actually the failure of his dream. At the end of the novel, Fitzgerald heralds the tragic decline of the American Dream. A once high, mighty and pure ideal has become degraded and buried by the dehumanizing lust for money. Whether it is an American, African, Asian or any other dream, pure hard work, honesty and modesty pay and give results that last till the end.

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Keeping the American Dream Alive in The Great Gatsby. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved March 27, 2023, from