Founding father Benjamin Franklin described the American dream as the “pursuit of a better existence… a higher quality of life through hard work, determination, and devotion” (Benjamin Franklin). The American dream is an idea that if you work hard, you can rise from “rags to riches” and live a wealthy and prosperous life with moral values of respect and integrity. Ironically, Franklin’s version of the dream was decaying during the roaring 1920s when society became corrupt and obsessed with greed. In his classic book, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows how the American dream of “hard work, determination, and devotion” was deteriorating because society had become greedy and materialistic. In addition, moral values were in decline and that was illustrated by Tom Buchannan and his affair with Myrtle, Jay Gatsby and his illegal bootlegging business, and Daisy Buchannan and her affair with Gatsby.Tom Buchannan, a major antagonist in The Great Gatsby, contributes greatly to the decline of the Franklin’s America. Rather than working hard and achieving wealth, Tom inherits his family’s wealth and relies on it. In addition to becoming a lazy man who relies on his wealth, Tom has an affair with Myrtle, his mistress. Tom does not have true love for Myrtle, but rather he is selfish with her beautiful body. He makes her believe that he loves her by buying her clothes and jewelry. For example, Tom buys a dog for Myrtle when she says, “ I want to get one of those dogs…they are nice to have – a dogs” (Fitzgerald 27). What makes it clear that Tom is simply engaging with Myrtle is his abusive behavior at the party. When Myrtle was shouting “Daisy! Daisy! Daisy”, Tom Buchanan angrily “broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald 37). However, …
…art, and Daisy’s false love to Gatsby all represents ways how Franklin’s American Dream declines during 1920s. Even though Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom Buchannan represent corrupt society, Nick Carraway symbolizes hard work and moral dignity that shows how there was still a small hope of an American dream that was dreaming by person like Carraway. Although an original American dream of “ hard work, determination, and devotion” was ruined by these three characters, Nick Carraway stands as the character of virtue and honesty who symbolizes true hard work who was determines to earn money though dedication and devotion.
1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
2. Veitch, Jonathan. “Jay Gatsby, Shane, Nevada Smith A “Memoir”.” Business Information, News, and Reports. HighBeam Business, 22 Mar. 1999. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.