The American Dream has many meanings for people. For some people, the idea shows that one can accomplish his or her goals through living this dream. To others, it gives them a sign of hope, an open door that they desperately want to enter in pursuit of chances and opportunities. How does Gatsby represent the American Dream?
Americans after World War I, uplifted by the emotions of the war, had an uncontrollable spark of energy about accomplishing and showing a lavish way of life and achieving a high social position. The people of America considered happiness to be set inside the American Dream and without that, life would be meaningless. The novel The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald, gives a sight of the people living in the 1920s, where the characters chase the American Dream under the influence of a wealthy society. Fitzgerald shows the broken up concept of the American Dream and demonstrates it through the characters of Myrtle, Daisy, and Gatsby how the pursuit of the American Dream can destroy people.
The desire for a wealthy and luxurious life baits Myrtle into having an affair with Tom. This decision harms her marriage to George, leading to her death and loss of true happiness. Myrtle has hope for a wealthy lifestyle. She enjoys gossip magazines that highlight the importance of the “rich and famous” in her view of life. Her pursuit of a rich lifestyle demonstrates the reason she wants to be with Tom because he contains the life of the “rich and famous.” Her marriage to George Wilson was due to her loving him without any forethought, she thought they would be happy together. The shallow and materialistic nature of Myrtle’s expresses itself through the way she describes George’s poverty. However, Myrtle’s view of Tom is completely the opposite. Myrtle knows that Tom can afford his suit. She’s attracted to Tom’s appearance and more importantly his wealth. Tom is the ideal symbol and advertisement of the American Dream. Myrtle is considered as a person of the lower class because she cannot dress in the accessories of wealth. Therefore, she gets married to Tom to get herself to an upper-class status. She knows that she is not part of the upper class, yet she hopes her marriage with Tom will get her to be labeled as a wealthy person. Moreover, her pursuit of the American Dream puts all her hope in materialistic things and she fails to focus on the importance of the values behind the idea. It’s her want for a luxurious life and chasing the American Dream that led to her death, representing how the pursuit of the American Dream as portrayed by Fitzgerald causes destruction.
Daisy is the most mysterious and most disappointing character in The Great Gatsby. Although Fitzgerald does attempt to make her character worthy of Gatsby’s loyalty, at the end of the novel, she shows her greedy and materialistic self. Daisy is simply selfish, hurtful, and extremely shallow. Gatsby loves Daisy with a lot of passion that readers would hope that she becomes worthy of his loyalty. Gatsby sees Daisy as a pure and innocent person, yet Fitzgerald shows her actually as immoral and soulless. Through Daisy’s character Fitzgerald shows an image of the American Dream being a mistaken perfection, but in reality, it is not as perfect as it seems.
Daisy is first seen as an angel, dressed in all white to reflect her purity in a world that is corrupt, the idea of the American Dream. However, her character gradually shows her cruel and self-centered nature. Tom’s wealth was enough for Daisy to marry him because it provided everything she could ever want. His wealth and love were the two most important things that Daisy tried very hard to have. He was not very committed in the relationship. Therefore, he has affairs with other women. However Daisy does not want to leave Tom because his wealth and power allows her to keep her luxurious lifestyle. Moreover, when Gatsby comes back into her life with wealth, she is drawn to him. Gatsby’s love is not the most important thing to her. It is his wealth that makes her very attracted to him. Daisy’s true self can be seen multiple times but the biggest reveal of her true nature, which destroys her angelic front, occurs when Myrtle dies. She was the driver of the car that ran over Myrtle, and she left the scene. At that moment, readers realize that Daisy has no moral sense of right or wrong. The all white that at first reflected purity is actually reflecting the lack of her morality. Myrtle’s death meant nothing to Daisy. This act of having no moral sense shows her evil nature. Daisy’s unfaithfulness reflects the decline of the idea of the American Dream. Marriage that was first happiness and joy between two people turned into meaningless and materialistic relationships in the 1920s. Throughout the story Daisy establishes the characterization of women in the 1920s as charming, self-centered and selfish, materialistic, and immoral.
Gatsby is the most important character to be destroyed by the pursuit of the American Dream. Obsession over Daisy has taken over his whole life. He feels that he has to live up to the American Dream to get his biggest desire which is Daisy. After returning from the war, Gatsby realize that Daisy married Tom because of his wealth. Therefore, the pursuit to be wealthy became his way to win over Daisy. He believes that he can achieve the American Dream with wealth and power even through illegal ways. His wealth will earn him Daisy, which for his character shows the American Dream. However, Gatsby’s death only serves to show that the American Dream cannot be achieved through wrong doings, yet he takes on evil ways to achieve it.
Overall the pursuit of the American Dream is not a pretty one. Fitzgerald clearly showed that nobody in society can achieve big dreams, without having rational, and realistic views toward their ideas. People will always pursue the American Dream if it means to have a better life, to provide for your family, to become wealthy, or to be with the person you love the most.