The American Dream: The Great Gatsby

896 words - 4 pages

It can be said that chasing the American Dream is a never ending journey. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby seems to undertake great efforts in pursuing the life he wants to live, the so-called American Dream. The novel is Fitzgerald's vessel of commentary and criticism of the American Dream. As he paints a vivid portrait of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald defines this dream, and through Gatsby's downfall, expresses the futility and agony of its pursuit. Through Gatsby's longing for it, he depicts its beauty and irresistible lure in a manner of which any philosopher would be proud. The aspects of the American Dream are evident throughout Fitzgerald's narrative. Take, for ...view middle of the document...

Gatsby prides himself on his openness; his lavish parties where strangers came and went without having met Gatsby at all. Gatsby certainly wants the people on his side: from his house labeled a Norman "Hotel de Ville," or City Hall, open to the public, to Lucille's replacement dress from Croirier's, courtesy of Gatsby, no expense is too great in his quest to win others support. Gatsby needs as much popular support as he can get, in the face of such random acts of contempt as "he killed a man once" to "he was a German spy during the war." Improvement, wealth, love, popularity: all contribute to the definition of the American Dream. What is missing from the preceding list is, however, perhaps the most important quality of all: that the American Dream is exactly that, a mere dream. Unfortunately, the quest for satisfaction and happiness is unending, like eternally chasing one's tail. It is a vicious circle, one of many traps laid out by Fitzgerald for the sake of educating his audience of the perils of imagination. Indeed, given the thin line between the intrinsic desire for self-improvement and the waste and futility of pursuing mental illusions, and the consequences of the latter, the peril is quite extreme. Just as Daisy re-enters Gatsby's life and sets the circle moving, does she fulfill the reverse: she, in an equally shocking and abrupt manner, flees Gatsby, his eyes still scintillating in the reflection of...

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