The Great Gatsby Essay: The Pursuit of the American Dream
(A major theme in The Great Gatsby is the pursuit of what can be termed the American dream. Do you agree? By choosing a major character or a situation in Fitzgerald’s novel, discuss how or whether Fitzgerald is successful in exposing the underside of the American dream)
Among the themes portrayed in the novel The Great Gatsbyby by Scott Fitzgerald is the corruption of the American dream. The American Dream is defined as someone starting low economically or socially and then working hard towards wealth and prosperity.
In this sample essay of the Great Gatsby we expose the negative effects of the American Dream.
The Great Gatsby and American Dream
The American dream is an idealistic perception that people have about life. Most people view the American dream as a life characterized by wealth and fame. Other components of the American dream include a happy family and access to everything that can be purchased through money (Hartshell 1). It is possible to live the American dream, but one must dedicate themselves to hard work and perseverance. Achieving the American dream is highly probable but living the dream is difficult. The novel, the American Dream written by Scott Fitzgerald, portrays the image of the American dream in the years of 1920s.
Many people have the perception that living the American dream is being wealthy. But the exact definition of the American dream is accomplishing one’s goals in life and supplementing them with happiness (Hartshell 1). It is unrealistic to argue that one is living the American dream if they poor health, no friends, and no family, even if they are endowed with materialistic things. Giving an individual a big mansion and an expensive car would only give them temporary contentment after which they would feel emptier than they got the wealth (Hartshell 1). One of the things that characterize the American dream is hard work; it is impossible to live a good life in America without hard work.
Knowledge is critical towards living the American dream (Hartshell 2). When one is aware that wealth will not translate to happiness, then he/she will incorporate aspects of joy to supplement their wealth. People in the 1920s were devoid of this knowledge, and would, therefore, risk everything aspect of their lives to amass wealth (Hartshell 2). According to them being wealthy, powerful, and famous translated to living the American dream. Gatsby, Myrtle, and Daisy involved themselves in corruption and devastation in efforts to realize the American dream. But the mechanisms they used to achieve what they perceived as the American dream, finally caught up with them ending their wealthy and unhappy lives.
Most people are aware that the American dream indeed exists. But the factors that motivate to chase after the goal, push them away from experiencing the good things attached to the American dream. In the book, great Gatsby, Myrtle had the desire of living the American dream, but just like other characters in the book, her definition of the American dream was wealth and luxurious life. When she met her husband George, she overestimated his wealth and found herself getting married to a mechanic (Wullick 2). Her desire for the American dream was so big that she was willing to sacrifice everything to realize it. She even contemplates having a divorce, but in the early years, such processes were highly discouraged. In efforts to live the American dream, Myrtle ends up becoming Tom’s mistress (Wullick 2). Tom is a wealthy man who was born into a wealthy family and leads a very luxurious life with his wife, Daisy. Myrtle is so blinded by her desire to lead a prosperous life that she fails to realize that Tom neither values nor respects her. At one time, Tom hits Myrtle face breaking her nose for repeatedly mentioning Daisy’s name.
In reality, the American dream should be defined by wealth, health and happiness. But in this case, Myrtle leads a wealthy and luxurious life devoid of any pleasure. Her luxurious life is however short-lived, because Tom’s wife, later kills her by use of Gatsby’s car. Daisy uses Gatsby’s car to hit Myrtle, who she found at a gas station close to where the latter lived with her husband George (Wullick 2). There is a stipulated way of living the American dream, and it involves using legal and socially acceptable methods to rise from poor financial grounds to the high-end life of the rich. Myrtle failed to adhere to these stipulated ways and ended up living a short and unhappy life.
To live the American dream, one must set their priorities right. Most people end up missing on the American dream for the failure of prioritizing the essential things in life. Gatsby, unlike Tom, was born of a low-income family, but his desire to live the American dream was to get the attention of Daisy, who she first saw as a wealthy and young luxurious woman (Falth 7). To rise from his poor financial grounds to the high-end life of the wealthy, Gatsby had to use illegal economic undertakings to make money. He involved himself in the distribution of unlawful alcohol (Fitzgerald 13). To protect his relationship with Daisy, he lied of owning a chain of drug stores. Gatsby’s goal after garnering wealth was to take Daisy away from Tom a task that proved impossible. At one time, he had to force Daisy to confess that she never loved Tom, which she did but later denied (Fitzgerald 13). Gatsby’s life was full of discontentment despite all his wealth. His entire life was controlled by the desire for love, sex, and luxurious experience. He even had to purchase a mansion close to where Tom and Daisy lived so he could be able to see Daisy. But just like Myrtle, his luxurious life was short-lived because he was later shot by George, Myrtle’s husband as a reaction to the death of his wife which was caused by Gatsby’s car.
Both Gatsby and Myrtle lived short but luxurious lives, which they deemed to be the American dream. Their decision to use wicked ways to amass wealth in chase of the American dream contributed significantly to their unexpected deaths. The most ironic thing is that both Tom and Daisy are portrayed as being united in their marriage at the end of the book despite the fact they were the cause of Gatsby and Myrtle’s death. The end theme of the book is that the American dream can only be realized through hard work.
Fälth, Sebastian. “Social Class and Status in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” (2013).
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925). na, 1991.
Hartshell, Wallace. “The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald the American Dream.” Free Book Summarry, 2018, https://freebooksummary.com/the-great-gatsby-by-f-scott-fitzgerald-the-american-dream-4234.
Wulick, Anna. “Best Analysis: Love and Relationships in The Great Gatsby.” SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips, 2018, blog.prepscholar.com/the-great-gatsby-theme-love-relationships.
Great Gatsby American Dream Essay Outline
The American dream entails more than just garnering wealth, the ways of amassing wealth are similarly important. It is impossible to live the American dream without other aspects of life such as love, health, and happiness.
Many people have the wrong perception of the American dream.
- The American dream does not imply being wealthy.
- It entails realizing one’s goals in life supplemented with happiness.
- Living the American dream with materialistic things only is impossible.
- The American dream can only be achieved through hard work.
Knowledge is essential in realizing the American dream.
- People in the 1920s did not know what the American dream entailed.
- They believed being wealthy translated to living the American dream.
- Gatsby, Myrtle, and Daisy failed to live the American dream due to lack of knowledge.
The wrong factors motivate most people in search of the American dream.
- Myrtle was driven by the desire to lead a wealthy and luxurious life.
- These desires drove her to become Tom’s mistress, who devalued and mistreated her.
Wealth, health and happiness define the American dream.
- Myrtle’s life was devoid of happiness.
- Her relationship with Tom, contributed to Daisy killing her.
- The American dream requires one to rise from a poor background to riches through legal ways and hard work.
To live the American dream one must set their priorities right.
- Gatsby prioritized wealth over love and happiness.
- Gatsby used illegal economic undertakings to amass wealth.
- Unfulfilled desires drove his entire life.
- His relationship with Daisy contributed to his death.
Gatsby and Myrtle lived short lives owing to their desire for rich and luxurious experiences. They wasted their lives in the company of Tom and Daisy, who later reunited. Knowledge is of essential for one to realize the American dream. The only way to live the American dream is through hard work.