Fitzgerald’s View of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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Throughout the history of our country the American dream has been a constant symbol of the opportunity that the United States offers. Many people and authors have different ideas of what the American dream is. Some believe that it is just the fact that you get to live in our country and have a decent job, some believe it is the ability to achieve fame and wealth, and some believe it is the ability to live a modest life with the freedom of religion, speech, and family choices. The authors, Fitzgerald, Brooks, and Sandler have some similar ideas about the meaning of the American Dream, which is that once people achieve the dream, such as a good job, wealth, and a nice home and car, then they are not completely happy with it and they want more and more.

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The author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, has been known for his symbolism with the American Dream in his novel, The Great Gatsby. Many people have always wondered what his view of it is and how it works in America. Fitzgerald views the American Dream as a never ending journey for satisfaction. He means people constantly strive for these dreams, yet they are never happy with their accomplishments once they get them. I agree with this because in society people constantly seek a very successful lifestyle, but even if they achieve it they end up chasing that dream more to never feel that they fully succeed. Because in life we cannot succeed with everything and we will always have lower parts in life. For example in, “The Great Gatsby”, the main character, Gatsby, has all the wealth a person can ever want, but still cannot have the relationship he wants with Daisy so he is always searching for more wealth to try to win her back. He makes money which seems to be done in shady or illegal ways in order to keep reaching for more and to hopefully impress Daisy. Fitzgerald wrote, “And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night”. This quote was spoken by Nick in the novel, who is Gatsby’s neighbor and he gets to know him in the story. He is explaining how Gatsby was always looking for more and how far he came since getting to know Daisy again but he did not know he would never achieve that part of the dream. Fitzgerald also shows his view of the American Dream in other characters in Great Gatsby. Two of these are Tom and Daisy, who strive for more and more even after achieving wealth. In the novel, the narrator says this about Tom and Daisy, “They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together”. This shows how they did not settle down and settle for one place to live but kept moving and searching for more after finding wealth. He also says this about Tom, “Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game” . Nick, the narrator, was saying that Tom would never be satisfied with what he had.

David Brooks wrote about the American Dream in his article, “Relax, We’ll Be Fine”. His article is about how many Americans think our country is declining, but he sees our country at the start of an economic revival. David Brooks says that new communities are growing because developers are building urban downtowns that attract people to live in them. He also says that the American fertility rate is rising, immigrants are still coming to the United States because we are good at assimilating them, and we are at the top of economic competitiveness. If America is really thriving the way that Brooks says it is, then Fitzgerald’s view of the American Dream is still true today because if people were not always seeking more then we would not be growing in these ways. In the article Brooks states, “the average American worker is nearly 10 times more productive than the average Chinese worker”. This shows how American workers work hard to continue to achieve the American Dream. Brooks also says, “Over the last 10 years, 60 percent of Americans made more than $100,000 in at least one of those years, and 40 percent had incomes that high for at least three. This shows that Americans are working for more shown with increasing incomes.

Lauren Sandler also wrote about the American Dream in her article, “The American Nightmare: We Have Everything the American Dream Prescribed. So Why Aren’t We Happy?” Her article is about how the suburbs turned into a sprawl and how people are willing to give up time at home with a longer commute to have large homes with fancy entryways, media rooms, master suites, and more than one dining area. She also talks about how the pursuit of these bigger houses is leading to people not having time for relationships and happiness. Sandler states, “the loss of authentic connections that comes from the distinctly American notion of homeownership that plays a key part in fulfilling the dream; you purchase a private realm- you home- to replace a public square that no longer exists”. I think what Sandler is saying in this quote proves that Fitzgerald’s view of the American Dream is still applicable today because people are giving up things to have the large home. She also says, “But a strong work ethic - and the freedom to spend its returns on whatever we please - is exactly what has given rise to the best of the American Dream, rendering a Canaan out of this land for hopeful immigrants around the world”. She is saying that the American Dream is to have more even if you have enough to be okay in life and this is what immigrants come for. This supports Fitzgerald’s view. Finally, she writes, ‘And the more we strive to meet the expectations of the American Dream, the increasingly elusive happiness becomes, says Jean Twenge. “It’s particularly American, an unwillingness to compromise built into our individualism, imagining what our lives are supposed to be,” Twenge says.’  This quote by Twenge in Sandler’s article goes along with the character Gatsby because although he met the expectations of the American Dream with material items, he was still searching for happiness with Daisy and imagining what his life would be like with her.

Fitzgerald’s view of the American dream is very applicable today and was shown in the articles by Brooks and Sandler. The authors, Fitzgerald, Brooks, and Sandler have some similar ideas about the meaning of the American Dream, which is that once people achieve the dream, such as a good job, wealth, and a nice home and car, then they are not completely happy with it and they want more and more. The American Dream has been a constant symbol of what our country has to offer and although there are some who are satisfied with the minimum they have, many Americans are always working for more. Sometimes they are working for more wealth or what comes with that. Some are working for something they can get from their wealth, like Gatsby was. Overall, Fitzgerald’s view is still applicable today to many Americans.           

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