The word American dream refers to the belief that anybody, regardless of ethnicity, gender or class, can be successful and achieve their dream during their stay in the American continent, provided they work hard. This word gives the view of a society that ignores some of the common challenges which affect the American people, such as tax evasion, racism, xenophobia and misogyny. It also ignores the fact that there are inequalities in income and privileges between the ethnic majority and the minority. American Dream ignores the myth regarding equality among people of different classes when the truth is that American society has various hierarchies of individuals of different classes. The word American Dream is a key theme in the story The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. as embodied by Jay, the main protagonist in the story. This paper examines this concept as it applies to the character Jay Gatsby.
The American Dream of Gatsby is deeply rooted in the emotions of love he has for his former lover called, Daisy Buchanan. Jay believed he could win her back because of his status and wealth acquired after their separation. This is because Daisy was a representation of all the things that he desired and admired in life, such as charm, grace, sophistication and beauty. He feels that she is the embodiment of his dreams, and these feelings convince him that if he manages to win her back, his lifetime aspirations of happiness and true love will be fulfilled. The love that Gatsby feels towards Daisy is more than the nostalgic remnant of the romance that characterized their past as it has grown to an intense and all-consuming passion and desire which motivates him to be a wealthy and highly successful man who is of greater status in the society (Fitzgerald, 4). These possessions make him believe that he can get Daisy back even though she is already married to a different guy. Obsessions of Gatsby are visible in his numerous attempts to reconnect with Daisy, such as throwing an extravagant party in his house in which he anticipates that he will capture her attention. Gatsby’s single-mindedness in pursuing Daisy indicates the dangers and flaws that characterize the American dream. Such is because the love and affection he felt towards Daisy had shifted to a serious obsession which blinded him from the realities of who Daisy was at the time and what she wanted from their association. His dream of winning Daisy had been corrupted by his material possessions and the belief that he could buy love from Daisy using his status and wealth.
Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the American dream creates room for questioning the shortcoming associated with this dream. The author exposes this ideal’s flaws and limitations by showing how pursuing success and wealth could result in tragedy and disillusion. It is clear that the efforts of Gatsby to attain the American dream fail to bear meaningful fruits as they result in his demise (Fitzgerald, 6). Even though he was wealthy and of greater status, his material possessions could not win the love of Daisy. Therefore, his obsession resulted in his downfall. The author suggests that pursuing social status and material success may never generate real happiness and contentment or ensure that someone is fulfilled because they are ephemeral. The truth is that material wealth always creates some pride and anxiety in that one regards themselves as individuals who are above the law or rejection while causing anxiety when they fail to influence their desired outcomes even though they have the money and status to achieve the same. The tragic fate of Gatsby is also an indication that there are times when one can fail to attain the American dream, or they may attain it but experience greater dissatisfaction from it. Fitzgerald manages to demonstrate that since the American desire is continuous, it is quite challenging to attain. The situation can be compared to American society during the 19th century as it was characterized by greater insensitivity and corrupt practices, which led to a halt in the prosperity that characterized the nation at the time. The Great Depression, which struck the nation during the time, clearly demonstrates that trying to attain goals above the set bar could result in destruction, just like what happened to Gatsby. The great depression was later followed by the crash of wall street, which took place nine years after the great depression. The author suggests that instead of seeking to attain because of materialism, people need to focus on other vital aspects like relationships and long-term bonds, which are the ultimate source of happiness in life.
In conclusion, Fitzgerald uses the character Gatsby to portray the American dream and the dangers of the American dream. According to him, the dream is difficult because it is a continuous process. He further criticizes it by indicating that the dream could be corrupted through materialism and one’s pursuit of success. The fate of Gatsby is very tragic. However, it indicates the dangers, such as satisfaction accompanying the pursuit of material possessions and social status, as it never generates fulfilment or happiness.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004.1-7