The Great Gatsby and the American Dream
Everyone wants to be successful in life, but most often people take the wrong ways to get there. In the 1920’s the American Dream was something that everyone struggled to have. A spouse, children, money, a big house and a car meant that someone had succeeded in life. A very important aspect was money and success was determined greatly by it. This was not true in all cases however. The belief that every man can rise to success no matter what his beginnings. Jay Gatsby was a poor boy that turned into a very wealthy man, but did he live the American Dream? Money is actually the only thing that Gatsby had a lot of. Jay Gatsby tries to live the life of The American Dream, but fails in his battle.
I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes – a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder. (P. 171).
On his last visit to Gatsby’s house, Nick realizes that Gatsby’s belief in life and love resembles the hope and faith of those early Dutch sailors coming to America, looking forward to freedom and spiritual and mate...
rial jubilation. With this in mind, we can be sure that Gatsby is the reflection of the American Dream. So, in what way is Gatsby representative of the American Dream?
After people have determined their specific aspirations, they need to structure a course of actions to achieve them in order to bring their dreams to reality. For Gatsby, his dream is very easily realized, to a certain extent, by virtue of his immense ambition and idealism. As described by Nick in the novel, Gatsby has an “extraordinary gift for hope”, which has never been found in any other person:
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. (P.8).
But he didn’t despise himself… (P.142).
Gatsby has an intense desire for Daisy, who is both wealthy and beautiful. The desire is so profound that it forms part of his belief in life and motivates him to do whatever possible to become rich and famous so as to bridge the gap between Daisy and him. In this way, money and success is merely the stepping-stone by which Gatsby attains his ultimate goal – winning Daisy back from Tom.
Gatsby is a person of magic, being able to manipulate and even change his fate. He was born penniless in an unsuccessful farming family in the Mid-west, as shown in his father’s remarks:
“As a matter
of fact, he had no such facilities – he had no comfortable family standing behind him, and he is liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world.” (P.142).
He then goes to the East Coast to pursue his dream. Through his struggle for his dream, however, he has been able to amass a fortune and climb up the social ladder. He owes his success mostly to his own faith in life and his optimistic confidence in himself, though the opportunities and help from Dan Cody have to been acknowledged. His determination to strive towards his ideal can be mirrored in his changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby, which best fits him into a new, more dignified social class. His mental rejection of his legitimate parents as his parents is accompanied by his emulation of the father-like figure, Dan Cody. Above all, Gatsby is so diligent and industrious a young man that he deserves all his accomplishments. He is hardworking and resolved, as shown by his schedule and his general guidelines for life:
Gatsby’s Schedule (P.164)
Rise from bed6.00 AM
Dumbbell exercise ; wall-scaling6.15 – 6.30 AM
Study electricity, etc7.15 – 8.15 AM
Work8.30 AM – 4.30 PM
Baseball ; sports4.30 – 5.00 PM
Practise elocution, poise ; how to attain it5.00 – 6.00 PM
Study needed inventions7.00 – 9.00 PM
Gatsby’s General Resolves (P.164)
No wasting time…
Read one improving book or magazine per week.
Save $ 5.00 $ 3.00 per week.
Having made enough money, he begins to implement his plans, step by step, to buy
Firstly, he buys an expensive mansion at West Egg, proximate to Daisy’s at East Egg so that he can always glaze at “the green light that burns all night at the end of your Daisy’s dock” (P.90). Actually, he also buys a luxurious “yellow car”, a deluxe yacht, many ornate clothes and stacks of bona fide books, not only to show off his wealth and social and educational status, but also to impress Daisy. Gatsby is so proud of his great attire that when Daisy visits his lavish mansion:
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel… While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher – shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of indian blue. (P.89).
Effectively, Daisy is so dazzled by his opulent mansion and in particular his rich apparel that she bends her head into the shirts and exclaims marvelously: “They’re such beautiful shirts!” (P.89). Moreover, he throws numerous extravagant parties in the hope that Daisy will turn out in one of them. Assuming that he can buy Daisy’s love by exhibiting his wealth, Gatsby becomes committed into doing these all. However, money is not God. Nor is it a salvation for mankind. Therefore, Gatsby’ deliberate deeds are doomed to be in vain.
Indeed, there is a hint foreshadowing the futility of Gatsby’s desire for Daisy. Early in the novel, when Jordan is talking about Gatsby, Daisy demands,
- American Identity
- American Dream
- Education In The United States
- Los Angeles
- New Jersey
- President Of The United States
- Prohibition In The United States
- San francisco
- South carolina
- U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission
- U.S. State
- United Parcel Service
- United States Congress
- United States Declaration Of Independence
- United States Postal Service
- United States Senate
- Washington, D.C.
- White house
- A beautiful mind
- A raisin in the sun
- A Tale Of Two Cities
- Acts Of The Apostles
- Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
- Aldous Huxley