Great Gatsby's American Dream

The Great Gatsby, a novel by Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, and
the downfall of those who attempt to reach its impossible goals. The attempt to
capture the American Dream is used in many novels. This dream is different for
different people; but, in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is that through
wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness Jay must
reach into the past and relive an old dream; and, in order to do this, he must
have wealth and power. The American Dream had always been based on the idea that
each person no matter who he or she is can become successful in life by his or
her hard work. The dream also brought about the idea of a self-reliant man, a
hard worker, making a successful living for him or herself. The Great Gatsby is
about what happened to the American Dream in the 1920s, a time period when the
many people with newfound wealth and the need to flaunt it had corrupted the
dream. The pursuit of the American Dream is the one motivation for accomplishing
one's goals, however when combined with wealth the dream becomes nothing more
than selfishness. Jay Gatsby, the main character of the story, is one character
that longs for the past. Surprisingly, he spends most of his adult life trying
to recapture it and, finally, dies in this pursuit. In the past, Gatsby had a
love affair with the attractive young Daisy. Knowing he could not marry her
because of the difference in their social status, he leaves her to gain wealth
to reach her standards. Once he acquires wealth, he moves near to Daisy,
"Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay
(p83)," and throws extravagant parties, hoping by chance she might show up
at one of them. He, himself, does not attend his parties but watches them from a
distance. When this dream doesn't fall into place like he planned, he asks
around if anyone knows her. Soon, he meets Nick Carraway, a cousin of Daisy, who
agrees to set up a meeting, "He wants to know...if you'll invite Daisy to
your house some afternoon and then let him come over (p83)." Gatsby's
personal dream symbolizes the larger American Dream where all have the
opportunity to get what they want. Later, in the Plaza Hotel, Jay still believes
that Daisy loves him. He is convinced of this and even takes the blame for

Myrtle's death. "Was Daisy driving?" "Yes.... But of course I'll
say I was (p151)." He also watches Daisy as she returns home to make sure
her husband doesn't harm her. "How long are you going to wait?"
"All night if necessary (p152)". Gatsby cannot accept that the past is
gone and done with. He believes that he acted for her and beyond his personal
interest and that that should guarantee his success. Nick attempts to show Jay
that his dream is unobtainable, but Gatsby innocently replies to Nick's comment
by saying, "Yes you can, old sport (p141)". This shows the confidence
that Jay has in fulfilling his American Dream. For Jay, his American Dream is
not material possessions, although it plays a big part in the fulfillment of his
true American Dream, Daisy. Gatsby does not rest until his American Dream is
finally fulfilled. However, it never comes about and he ends up paying the
ultimate price for it. Gatsby's own characteristics, especially his obsession,
contributed to his fate. Despite his attitude toward Daisy and her friends who
"are rich and play polo together," he, too, has been drawn in by the
lure of money and fame. Unable to control his obsessive desire to have daisy, he
cares little about the means by which he acquires the money to marry her. He
associates with known criminals, appears to be involved with bootlegging, and is
rumored to have killed a man. Finally, he lies about himself and his family to
get Nick's help for his quest. The means he uses to achieve his goal ends up to
be everything that he despises about the people who come to his parties. He
prefers the pretty illusions he thinks of rather than the harsh reality of the
obsession that he has allowed to corrupt his life and dream. The result of this
corruption is that his so-called American Dream has vanished before his eyes.

The idea of the American Dream still holds true in today's time, no matter if
it's wealth, love, or fame. But