Meaning of Living the American Dream Through The Great Gatsby Novel

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

     Throughout the country people ponder on what it means to be living the true American Dream. Whether or not one has reached the American dream cannot be determined by one simply obtaining their goal, but rather can be determined by how one obtained their goal. Being an American means that one has the capability to achieve any of their aspirations by putting in honest work, staying true to one’s morals, and living a genuine life. By my definition of the American Dream, the main character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby cannot be considered to be living the dream because of the immoral, dishonest and superficial way he lives his life, whereas Nick Caraway can be seen as having the potential to fulfill the dream, due to his belief that in order to live the dream, one must live as their truest genuine self.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

Jay Gatsby’s outlook on the American dream contrast with my own ideas of obtaining one’s goals with righteousness, due to the dishonest and immoral ways he goes about achieving his goal of getting to be with Daisy Buchanan, which over all prevents him from living the American Dream. Gatsby realized that he must obtain an incredible amount of wealth in order to acquire Daisy’s love. The text suggests that he earned his wealth by buying up side-street drug stores and selling,“grain alcohol over the counter” . Distributing alcohol is illegal due to alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s, making the way Gatsby obtained his wealth dishonest and immoral. Gatsby was unbothered by his shady actions because he was so caught up in his dream of obtaining the love of Daisy Buchanan. Another way Gatsby’s love for Daisy drives him to perform in an unethical manner is his participation in their affair, despite his knowledge that in the end Daisy would never leave her luxurious life for him. Once Tom finds out about the affair, he remarks that Daisy is not going to leave him for Gatsby as, “ his words suddenly leaned down over Gatsby,” because he knew that what Tom was saying was the complete truth. Having a romantic relationship with a married woman, while knowing she isn’t going to leave Tom is unethical. Disregarding the dishonorable act of being involved with a married woman is just another example of how Gatsby goes about achieving his aspirations in an extremely immoral and unethical way. In my definition of the American Dream, individuals must achieve their goals in an honest way. Gatsby’s tunnel vision goal of earning Daisy’s love clouded his connection with his moral compass and made him drift away from what it means to be an American.

In addition to the shady ways Gatsby obtained his money, the superficial manner in which he leads his life also prevents him from reaching the American Dream. Gatsby puts on a mirage that he is living the life of sheer perfection. In order to do so, he throws outrageously extravagant parties, making sure that every guest has a top notch experience and leaves knowing how wealth, generous and “happy” Gatsby is. In a discussion about Gatsby, between Jordan and Lucille, Jordan is informed that a at one of Gatsby’s previous parties, Lucille tore her gown and Gatsby bought her a new one. Lucille described the gown as, “gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars,' making sure to include the high price of the gown. The fact that Gatsby was willing to spend such an excessive amount of money on a random, no name guest at his party depicts the extent he is willing to go to in order to put on a certain appearance of himself to others. In addition, one of Gatspy’s regular party guests, Owl Eyes recognizes the deception of Gatsby’s mirage. During one of Gatsby’s extravagant functions, Owl Eyes is astonished to find that the books in Gatsby’s library are real. He refers to Gatsby as, “regular Belasco,” an American theatrical producer who was very particular about the smallest details in his props and effects in order to make it appear genuine and realistic. Owl eyes uses this phrase to describe Gatsby because he recognizes that the life Gatsby lives is truly just a show he puts on, despite how convincing it tends to be in the eyes of others. Gatsby cannot be considered someone who is living the American Dream because he is not living as his genuine, rather he presents himself to others as an illusion of what he wants people to see, which in turn is why his life ended in such a tragedy.

As opposed to Gatsby, Nick Carraway has the potential to obtain the American Dream due to the fact that that he is more focused on how genuinely satisfied individuals are with their lives rather than how satisfied they appear, a crucial part of living the dream, by my definition. His commentary exemplifies that he does not simply look at the wealth of individuals to determine whether or not they are living the dream. Instead, he focuses on how genuine of a life they are living. He recognizes that wealth is meaningless when it comes to determining if someone is living the American Dream. Readers see Nick demonstrate this outlook on life through his drive to genuinely get to know the other characters, rather than just accepting the pictures they paint of themselves for other people. While looking at Tom and George, Nick observes that, “there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well,” seeming as though the men were not as different as one might think at first glance. In further explanation, George is a poor, working class, beaten down man as opposed to Tom, who is a magnificantly wealthy, upper class man. Most people would take these observations and decide that Tom has succeeded on his journey to the American Dream and George has failed, but Nick Carraway sees past the shallowness of their possessions and status and sees that the men underneath are both highly dissatisfied with their lives, which is why he makes a statement about how that are more similar than they appear. From Nick’s perspective, both men had failed at reaching the American Dream. This is based on the idea that Nick and I share, that inorder to reach the Amrican Dream, individuals must live a genuine life.

Through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, I can without a doubt deduce from Gatsby that individuals attempt to achieve their goals with dishonesty and immoral actions, and lives their life in a superficial way, that individual is incapable of reaching the true satisfaction of obtaining the American Dream. Nick Carraway exemplifies someone who is on their way of achieving the dream due to his vision of seeing people as they are rather than how they want to appear. The key to obtaining the American Dream is living ones genuine life, along with achieving one’s goals with honesty and integrity.

Get quality help now


Verified writer

Proficient in: Economics, Literature

4.8 (345 reviews)
“Writer-Justin was a very nice and great writer. He asked questioned as necessary to perform the job at the highest level. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More The Great Gatsby Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.