Essay title: The American Dream, and All Its Splendor (great Gatsby)
The 1920s were a decade of rebirth characterised by the founding of the "AmericanDream" — the belief that anyone can, and should, achieve material success. The definingwriter of the 1920s was F. Scott Fitzgerald whose most famous novel, The Great Gatsby,has become required reading for present-day high school students. We study Fitzgerald'snovel for the same reason we study Shakespeare.
The literature composed by both authorscontains themes and morals that continue to be relevant to modern society. As a result,this novel could have easily been written in modern times. In his novel, Fitzgerald criticisesthe American Dream by describing its negative characteristics: class struggles between therich and the poor, the carelessness of the rich, and the false relationship between moneyand happiness. “The Great Gatsby .
.. describes the failure of the American dream, from the point ofview that American political ideals conflict with the actual social conditions that exist.
Forwhereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people, the truth isthat social discrimination still exists and the divisions among the classes cannot beovercome” (Internet 1). It is impossible for all people to become rich, since wealth isbased largely on social position, and classes prevent the poor from becoming successful.“One thing’s sure and nothing’s surer / The rich get richer and the poor get — children”(Fitzgerald 101). Myrtle’s attempt to break into the classwhich the Buchanans belong tois doomed from the start.
She enters into an affair with Tom, takes on all the negativequalities of his social group, and not only becomes corrupt and immoral, but she scornspeople from her own class. “I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn’t fitto lick my shoe” (Fitzgerald 39). The adulterous behaviour of Myrtle and Tom, as well asthe carelessness of Daisy and Jordan, illustrates the corruptibility of the rich.
Both Tom and Daisy are morally corrupt, having little concern for how they treat thepeople around them. “Daisy and her husband display their indifference to human values inepisodes involving sexual exploitation and careless violence” (Fahey 72). The Buchanansare not the only shallow ones, Jordan is “incurably dishonest” and her opinion that “‘Ittakes two to make an accident,’”(Fitzgerald 63)is an attempt to justify of herthoughtlessness. ‘“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up thingsand creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness orwhatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they hadmade,”’(Fitzgerald 187) says Nick. Since the wealthy social class which they belong to isimmoral, they can get away with being corrupt; a corruption that comes from a false senseof security in their money, and the belief they have achieved the american dream.
One of the faults in the American dream is that it equates material wealth andpossessions with happiness. However, not everything, nor everyone, can be bought. Nick,for example, refuses Gatsby’s business preposition. ‘“But, because the offer was obviouslyand tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there”’(Fitzgerald.