The Fall of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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Imagine this, a young guy has been making his way through the social ladder only to impress a lady he cherished for five years. However, he died loving the girl who didn’t even attend his funeral. This tragic tale was The Great Gatsby, portraying the fall of the American Dream in the Roaring Twenties. With the different sorts of illustrations and imagery, the author F. Scott Fitzgerald places himself into every character in the novel and illustrates the early American Dream from the realist perspective, highlighting how wealth and social status are the necessary components behind fame and success.

The achievement of the American Dream is largely motivated/driven by social status and wealth as illustrated in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s; The Great Gatsby, through the experiences of the rich Gatsby, the middle-class Nick, and the wealthy Tom. Jay Gatsby is recognized as the tragic rich character who is seeking to move forward to reach the American Dream while leaving behind his family and changing his lifestyle for another man’s wife, his lover, Daisy. His life represents The American Dream in the way that his love for Daisy corrupted him, and he reached the belief that you have to be corrupted by wealth.

However, he is unable to attain The Dream fully due to social limitations which prevented him from reuniting fully with Daisy. In the Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanans could afford of having an affair, and have the confidence, that his wife, Daisy wouldn’t leave him for the sake of his money and status “old money”. Also, the shirts are symbolic of Gatsby’s transition from younger to the present self, from no money to “new money”. Daisy likes when Tom has shirts as they reflect the money, they spend to buy those shirts so when Gatsby shows the shirts, he’d bought for him to Daisy, she is shocked by the switch that she almost cried. In other words, Gatsby spent his whole life working towards having the life Tom has, a better richer life with Daisy, but even still, he could not reach the same level of prosperity. Thus, he never wins over Daisy and isn’t accepted by the upper class.

Gatsby accomplishes the economic American Dream, yet this does not correspond to him achieving The Dream socially. Gatsby’s hopes for life failure is connected with the American Dream’s failure. This illustrates how those who start at the bottom and seek to make their way up may/will still never succeed as society forgives and honors/rewards those who are richer, so they can keep on paying for their mistakes. Ethics and personality present no influence on the path to the American Dream, despite that, those with a stronger social presence will always be given priority, and consequently, one step closer to reach the American Dream.

Nick was born into a rich family with various opportunities most of the people didn’t have in the 1920s. When viewing his place in society, Nick recalls to himself, “I’m still a bit afraid of missing something in case I overlook that, as my father snobbishly advised, and I repeat snobbishly, a knowledge of basic decency is divided out unequally at birth” (Fitzgerald 2). In other terms, Nick asserts it is equally possible a good person can be naturally evil, and in the same way even the poor can be the most generous. Still, it is necessary to view in terms of the American Dream, wealth is the main pushing factor, and character goes second. Even though Nick believes himself to be a genuinely sincere person, he isn’t extremely wealthy, as being sincere and being wealthy aren’t connected. In contrast, Tom Buchanans, with racist views and unfaithful intentions, is placed at the top on the social ladder with nothing at stake.

The American Dream isn’t guaranteed, despite that, only people who have the luxury to repay for their mistakes are provided with the comfort of stability as well as have sustainability to keep on trying, unlike the poorer people. In chapter 8, Nick explains as to how the Buchanans don’t have to take responsibility for their acts. They aren’t admirable, instead people who disturb society and don’t have to compensate for consequences. Tom could easily buy whatever pleasures he desired, such as Daisy’s love, George’s wife, and Daisy’s innocence, at the expense of Gatsby’s life. Nick characterizes how Tom had his wealthy background to secure him from any inconvenience and gave him a sense of protection from the people he ruined. Nick also argued, that connections are way priceless in comparison to personality therefore, it’s essential to recognize that people with the same status tend to group. In other words, no one but the owner knows how much money he has in his bank account, however, status is social, it’s attained in the eyes of others.

Thus, the rich keep on expanding their list of resources, whereas for the same advantages the poor have to pay and struggle. In general, the only thing that is considered in the class system is wealth and there is no room for social niceties. Various experiences of Gatsby, Nick, and Tom in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals that The American Dream is pretty much unachievable with the key concept of hard work, and a deep sense of mortals, however achievable with wealth and social influence. He embodies this idea through the Great Gatsby demonstration those who are born with influence succeed while the others die trying. Gatsby is fortunate economically, but he is socially unfortunate due to Tom’s superiority of being wealthy. Nick is rich, but he is not able to climb up socially due to him being socially awkward. Tom is successful, but he inherited his success and used it as a social power to block others from achieving The American Dream. The American Dream doesn’t reflect the fundamental idea that anything is achievable by hard work, instead, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the ultimate American classic about a tragedy that will keep characters alive forever as an illustration of the incorrect impact that The American Dream may bring/can have.


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The Fall of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. (2020, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-fall-of-the-american-dream-in-the-great-gatsby/

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