The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a brilliant illustration of life among the new rich during the 1920s, people who had recently amassed a great deal of wealth but had no corresponding social connections. The novel is an intriguing account about love, money and life during the 1920s in New York. It illustrates the society and the associated beliefs, values and dreams of the American population at that time. These beliefs, values and dreams can be summed up to what is termed the ‘American Dream’; a dream of money, wealth, prosperity, and the happiness that supposedly came with the booming economy and the get-rich-quick schemes that formed the essential underworld of the American upper-class society. This withering theme presents itself in the novel through many of its characters. The writing style throughout The Great Gatsby is terse and though the book is depressing at times, its overall message of hope and the American dream is inspiring.
The story begins when Nick Carraway, a young man, moves to New York from the Midwest to join the bond business. There, he soon becomes acquainted with his wealthy neighbor Jay Gatsby, and they become good friends. Gatsby confides in Nick and tells him that he is in love with Nick?s cousin, the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. However, she is already married to the young and successful Tom Buchanan, who is unfaithful and has an affair with poor George Wilson?s wife. ?Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table? They weren?t happy? yet they weren?t unhappy either? (Chapter 7, pg.148). Later, Nick arranges a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy but soon after, they became involved in a love affair. It is revealed that many years ago, Gatsby and Daisy were in love, but Daisy would not marry him because he was rather poor. Gatsby, however, made his fortune and became determined to win Daisy?s heart. ? [Gatsby] wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was? (Chapter 6,pg. 111-112). Towards the end of the story, however, Tom finds out about Gatsby and Daisy and a heated argument ensues. That fateful night, returning to th…
… intriguing way. [Gatsby] stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him? (Chapter 8, pg.153).
Moving beyond style, the book pushes past the basic story line and becomes very symbolic. The characters, setting, and events that take place are all telling of the American dream in the twenties. It depicts people who let wealth determine their lives. It emphasizes how money and people?s desire for money can stand in the way of true happiness. The Great Gatsby realistically portrays both the best and the worst of human attributes and allows any reader to identify with the characters, no matter how far-fetched this might seem. F. Scott Fitzgerald?s novel is the epitome of the American literary accomplishment and a must read.
In writing this novel, Fitzgerald achieved in showing future generations what the early twenties were like, and the kind of people that lived then. He did this in a beautifully written novel with in-depth characters, a captivating plot, and a wonderful sense of the time period.
Fitzgerald, Scott F. The Great Gatsby. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1925.