The dawn of the 20th century was met with an unprecedented catastrophe: an international technological war. Such a horrible conflict perhaps threatened the roots of the American Dream! Yet, most do not realize how pivotal the following years were. Post war prosperity caused a fabulous age for America: the “roaring twenties”. But it also was an era where materialism took the nation by storm, rooting itself into daily life. Wealth became a measure of success and a facade for social status. This “Marxist materialism” threatened the traditional American Dream of self-reliance and individuality far even more than the war a decade before. As it morphed into materialistic visions (owning a beautiful house and car), victims of the change blindly chased the new aspiration; one such victim was Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. As his self-earned luxury and riches clashed with love, crippling consequences and disasters occur. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby delves into an era of materialism, exploring how capitalism can become the face of social life and ultimately cloud the American Dream.
The philosophy of the American Dream has been with Americans for centurie; James Truslow Adams says that, regardless of social class, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Adams). Although this vision has never fully encompassed the entirety of America, it has been generally a positive ambition that all Americans should look past their circumstances and rely on only themselves to succeed at life. However, American capitalism and Marxist ideas have contradicted the traditional dream. Materialism is a simple concept, but its definition has been skewed over time. At …
…on materialism and social class. While novel is widely considered a zeitgeist of the time period, it is also a warning for the American Dream. Although the Dream is not Marxist materialism, it is certainly not traditional individualism and freedom. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby poses a question: what is the American Dream?
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