“The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s work represents the dishonesty in the American Dream. Bad behavior, superficiality, and immorality are characteristics of a superior class in the book. Characters in the novel question the ambition to be of superior class, have fun and own a lot indirectly with the exception of Nick though partially (Malkmes 50). Gatsby is a representation of fraud in American Dream. He manages to acquire great wealth which is part of the “dream” although he becomes corrupt despite wealthy. It is ironical that he does not improve his character as his wealth increases.

The perception of the American Dream in 1920’s was that a person could achieve any level of success no matter the social status or history if they work smart and work hard. The American Dream was based on acquiring possessions and wealth and less on working hard to earn the wealth. The culture of 1920 was materialistic.

The American dream is based on the creation of a society where every member can reach the highest levels of their potential and achieve the wildest of their dreams regardless of their social class and the circumstances of their birth (Garfunkel 73). Jay Gatsby, the character around whom the story revolves is an embodiment of the American dream, coming from a humble background and rising to a position of wealth and influence at a young age. Despite his great wealth, however, Gatsby’s happiness is incomplete since he desires the companionship of his long time love, Daisy, who is already married to another wealthy man, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby pursues Daisy, nonetheless, and starts a secret extramarital affair with her. His pursuit of the woman of his dreams, however, ends with him being heartbroken when she proves that she cannot denounce her husband in his favor. In the end, he gets killed needlessly. Gatsby’s life and death could mean that the American dream is futile and self-destructive, that though one achieves wealth and power, they might never realize love and happiness as a direct result. The events that unfold after Gatsby’s death, with people with whom he had shared the most and spent the most time with shunning his funeral altogether, effectively encapsulate the futility of the American dream. It shows that one amassing wealth will not gain him the acceptance of others in society; that one’s station in life may not change in the eyes of those around him, regardless of the changes that they may make, the success that they may achieve.

The book is set in the 1920s, the periods after the First World War. The American economy was at a peak, and there were plenty of wealth creation opportunities in American society (Malkmes 47). Although the world war was never fought on American soil, people still felt a need to compensate their distress from the war period, and thus they engaged in extravagant behavior and parties characterized by an abundance of drugs and alcohol. This enabled people to grow wealth, some like Gatsby by providing drugs and alcohol to those who needed them for their extravagancies. This quick amassing of wealth gave the people a sense of having achieved and to be living the American dream (Malkmes 49).

The themes of time, wealth and dreams are vastly intertwined in the novel. The novel itself is set at a time when it is supposedly easier for one to accumulate wealth and live out their dreams. Events surrounding the characters’ lives are governed by the laws and constraints of time. Gatsby is born in North Dakota to a humble background and gets to work for a millionaire. Despite his dream to become a millionaire himself and enjoy the luxuries that come with that state, he has to wait till he has made his wealth so he can enjoy this dream. When he first meets Daisy, he is unable to impress his love on her due to his low station in life. He, however, still dreams of having a union with her. Thus, when he acquires wealth many years later, he pursues her and gets to enjoy this desired union, although it is extramarital and has to be kept clandestine. Thus, Gatsby partially lives out this dream. The achievement of this dream, however, proves to be wrongly timed as Daisy cannot declare her love for him or leave her husband for him.

The theme of time, wealth and dreams relate to each other in that they are all necessary for any progress regarding American Dream (Malkmes 50). The methods used to acquire wealth are not right because he sells drugs. Gatsby uses wealth to keep his dream of getting Daisy again alive. Gatsby is stuck in the past although he is living in the present attempting to achieve his dream in time by living profligate life.

Jay Gatsby’s major achievement is that he acquired wealth and was able to join the league of the most affluent members of society. He was also able to reunite with the love of his life and start an affair with her, despite her being a married woman at the time. Both these actions are a depiction American life in the 1920s (Malkmes 50). People were able to change their stations in life with relative ease. It was also a period of moral decay, and social vices such as extramarital affairs and drug-filled parties were commonplace. This is also evident in Nick and Jordan’s success at uniting a married woman with an unmarried man for a clandestine affair. Daisy ends up running over Myrtle Wilson, though unintentionally. Tom Buchanan directs George Wilson to Gatsby’s house which ends up killing him over the death of his wife. All these are evidence of the moral decay of the period within which the story is set (Malkmes 50).
Works Cited

Garfunkel, Norton. The American Dream Vs. The Gospel Of Wealth. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008. Print.

Malkmes, Johannes. American Consumer Culture And Its Society. Hamburg: Diplomica-Verl., 2011. Print.

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“The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald. (2022, Jan 28). Retrieved from https://essaylab.com/essays/the-great-gatsby-by-fitzgerald

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