“We his life. The central symbol of the American

“We
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…with
certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.” Jefferson writes these words in the Declaration of Independence
encompassing the idea of the American Dream, and making the basis on which our
country was built. Some people perceive the America Dream as a land of promise
and equal opportunity where anyone can gain success with hard work. In addition,
it dissolves the barriers between social classes and wealth. Originally,
immigrants came to America from other countries and all people were forced to
make their own life despite being born into money and privilege. Throughout the
Great Gatsby, the rights of life,
liberty and pursuit of happiness are not upheld therefore showing that the
purity of the dream was dead throughout the 1920’s. In the novel, Gatsby
dedicates his life to try to gain success in order to impress Daisy Buchanan,
the love of his life. The central symbol of the American dream is Gatsby’s need
for Daisy, which revolves around money. During the 1920’s material iteams
became a way to show off ones wealth and status. Gatsby believes that gaining
wealth will make Daisy love him. However, Fitzgerald shows that money cannot
buy happiness because Gatsby and Daisy do end up together and the destroyed
social and moral values that took place during this time.  F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the superficial
achievement of the American Dream through the relationships of Gatsby and Daisy,
showing how such a dream is unattainable for men and woman in the 1920’s
because of the barrier between social classes, greed, and wealth.

Different
characters in the novel come from different backgrounds such as the Buchanan’s
and Jordan who have not had to work a day in their life because they were born
into “new money.” However, the character of Gatsby has to work for his wealth
because he does not have the same background as the others, displaying that not
all men are born equal. The author shows the American Dream as corrupt
portrayed in the novel by how Gatsby gains his wealth, through illegal
bootlegging of alcohol. As stated in the text, “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street
drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s
one of his little
stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the
first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong” (Fitzgerald 133). Tom gets
very angered after Gatsby proclaims that that Daisy never loved him and she is
leaving him. Tom counteracts his statement by saying that everything that he
could offer Daisy including his is riches all stolen because Gatsby is a
“common swindler.” This reinforces the idea that different classes in the
1920’s had an imaginary wall between them that did not allow people to gain
social acceptance. Not only does Gatsby have to gain money illegally but he
changes his name because wealth alone does not bring the same position as
inherited prosperity. As stated in the text, “James Gatz—that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed
it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the
beginning of his career—when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious
flat on Lake Superior”(Fitzgerald 98). Gatsby creates a fake identity
going by the name of Jay Gatsby to put on a show for unaccepting people in East
Egg such as Tom Buchanan. He goes to this extent because he knows that he cannot
attain his dream of Daisy without having met an equal social class that he
otherwise could not have achieved without lying. When in reality Gatsby comes
from Minnesota having farmers as parents. At the end of the novel when Daisy
needs to make a decision between Gatsby and Tom she chooses Tom because he
offers her riches, security and the social privileges that come with being “old
money” that Gatsby never will have.

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The moral values of hard work and self-control were
replaced with materialism, laziness, and greed during the roaring twenties. The
corruption of the American dream is shown through Gatsby’s gail and Daisy’s
life revolving around money and wealth. Whiling taking a tour of Gatsby’s
mansion Daisy proclaims, “They’re such beautiful shirts, it makes me sad
because I’ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald 92).
Daisy’s life circles around Gatsby’s prosperity despite her true feeling
towards him or her fake admiration. Daisy is a representation of how greed
consumed the American dream in the 1920’s. Author Benjamin Szumskyj reinforces
this idea of Daisy in his writing, “people focus more on materialism rather
than human values”(Szumskyj).   Many
people in this age would stop at nothing to gain wealth, which was used to
measure how successful a person was and therefore destroying their integrity.
Even Gatsby judges himself of his worth based off Daisy reactions of his home.
Fitzgerald Portrays Gatsby’s constant search for the American dream; “Gatsby
believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes
before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster,
stretch our arms farther” (Fitzgerald 180). People always are chasing after
their dreams believing that someday it will come to them. Gatsby stops at nothing
to gain money and success but turns into a different person through the act,
having much greed and blind acceptance of materialism. Many people in the
1920’s were blinded by their versions of the American Dream because it hid who
they truly were and turned into greed.

The
characters of Daisy and Gatsby appear to have a flawless image when onlookers
see the lavish parties they attend containing only New York’s elite and their deluxe
homes. Nonetheless, the characters are internally struggling with the quality
and happiness found in their life. Gatsby does not achieve his grail, showing
that money cannot buy love and friendship. The upper class in The Great Gatsby buy many materialistic
object but they are partially satisfied and are only given temporary happiness.
This theme of hallow decadence is reinforced in the novel; “Daisy’s face was smeared with tears, and when I came in
she jumped up and began wiping at it with her handkerchief before a mirror”
(Fitzgerald 89). The disillusionment of the American dream is shown by how
Daisy had everything in the world including endless wealth that Tom supplies
her with. Despite having the privilege of these things, Daisy is noticeably
unhappy with her life. Another character that embodies the artificial achievement
of the American dream is Gatsby because he ends up with no joy or peace, which
he thought he would gain from Daisy. Gatsby convinces Nick to arrange to have
Daisy over for Tea so they can reconnect and tour his house. Nick goes to say
goodbye to Gatsby and finds him with a bewithered face; “A
faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present
happiness…There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled
short of his dreams- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal
vitality of his illusion”(Fitzgerald 95). Gatsby has finally achieves his dream
of impressing Daisy with his wealth after many years of waiting. However, after
accomplishing it Gatsby has no motive or purpose in life and he is starting to realize
his emptiness. This foreshadows the ending of the novel and the cease of Daisy
and Gatsby’s relationship because the dream does not satisfy him like he
pictured it would feel like. Author Barbara
Lupack writes in an article about the American Dream, “it had deteriorated into
the irresponsible actuality of American wealth, complete with the deceit and
superficiality of its appearances” (Lupack). This reinforces the idea of how
people’s appearances are full of lies masked by wealth and class when in
reality they are miserable people.

 

The American dream in the 1920’s became
unattainable, unreasonable, and too perfect. It became impossible for American
to achieve due to their ill mindset and morals reasons for achieving the Dream.
Even when one appears to achieve their gail of material success, happiness does
not follow because love and friendship cannot be bought. The embodiment of the
corrupt American Dream is described in the writings of Szumskyj, “disintegration
of the American Dream and portrays eras of decayed social and moral values as
is evinced through the characters cynicism, greed, and empty pursuits of
pleasure.” Fitzgerald characterizes Gatsby and Daisy to represent the American
Dream as dishonest and unethical. In result, these individuals become victims
of their own pursuit. Jefferson attended the American dream to be the
opportunity for every individual to fulfill their own idea of potential, creating
a better life. Originally, it was based off of the standards of independence, fairness,
control over ones fate, and relentless pursuit of one’s dream. This approach on
the American Dream morphed throughout the 1920’s into the desire to acquire
material things because of greed, social entitlement.