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Summary: Illustration of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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  F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Fitzgerald is known for his writings of the Jazz age and depictions of the 1920’s. The roaring twenties and Jazz age was a decade that included a lot of political and social changes. “It was a period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Western Europe, particularly in major cities such as Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, and Sydney”. Cities started to be less like farming land and wealthiness seemed to be something that everyone tired to attain. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived his american dream through all the books he has written, the Great Gatsby. In “The Great Gatsby”, Fitzgerald uses symbolism to illustrate the american dream and how it’s not always attainable.

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Fitzgerald tends to write about “the American Dream” in many of his works and also incorporates smaller themes like class and society, wealth and romantic idealism which helps display how this “dream” is not easy to obtain. Fitzgerald struggled with alcohol his entire life and it’s likely that this contributed to his early death. Due to this he was unable to complete his fifth novel he was working on at the time The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald was said to have been a “novelist writer whose work was joined between innocence and experience”. Fitzgerald was part of the middle class just like Nick Carraway and seemed to look down upon people like Gatsby and the Buchanans. He wrote about the rich but from a middle class point of view. “If his work seemed preoccupied with money, that was because money was a preoccupation of the middle class” . Gatsby is definitely one of his most famous books that portrays how middle class people see the wealthy as well as how they see the american dream. When the lower classes get money they get a “rather sniffy attitude” which is shown through the book as well as through the character Nick Carraway . Fitzgeralds constant refer to the American Dream has to do with the idea that modern America is maybe not a dream but a bunch of failures within life. Fitzgerald writes in the Great Gatsby that “The dream is in reality a vision of the receding and unrecoverable past”. This quote by Nick Carraway explains that we won’t always be able to obtain our dreams and that eventually those dreams will never become real.

Three months after The Great Gatsby was written Fitzgerald wrote a short called story The sensible thing. Just like his most famous novel, The Sensible Thing takes place in the roaring 20s. He displays his opinions of the american dream through George O’Kellys perspective. George was a young man who wanted to be with a rich girl named Jonquil Cary. In The Great Gatsby almost the same thing happens, Jay Gatz wants to be with Daisy who was also wealthy. George O’Kelly the main character, is overwhelmed with emotions. He lost his job, which he constantly lies about and only wants to be with the girl of his dreams which in the end doesn’t want to marry him. George says that “something that he had looked forward to had been rather casually lost”. This is similar to when Gatsby wants Daisy but was sort of disappointed because he enjoyed the chase of getting the girl of his dreams more. George and Jonquil end up breaking up, but a year later George comes back and is pleasantly surprised shes not married. “His imagination had distorted and colored all these simple familiar things” and made them better than what it seemed. “There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice” . This quote from The Sensible Thing portrays how you won’t get the time and moments back but you will always have the memory and the feeling of almost having the girl of your dreams.

Through the actions and thoughts of Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald is able to talk about the “American Dream”, social class, wealth and romance. Nick Carraway is the narrator of the book who grows up in Minnesota, just like Fitzgerald, who goes to New York to learn business. He moves to west egg, which is a rich area, where he becomes neighbors with Jay Gatsby. The book is told entirely from his perspective. Everything from his thoughts, perceptions and opinions are all told through the eyes of Nick Carraway. Like he says in the beginning of the book, Nick is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener and as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him their secrets. Gatsby trusts Nick with all his secrets and they soon become friends. In addition, Nick tends to be Fitzgerald’s voice throughout the book. Donaldson says “Fitzgerald sees, all right. He’s in the middle class with Nick looking down at Gatsby and up at the Buchanans with mingled disapproval and admiration, both ways.”. Nick Carraway is a character that allows Fitzgerald to put his own ideas and opinions about the people in society during this time of the Jazz Age.

Fitzgerald’s most famous book “The Great Gatsby” is all about a poor boy who wants to be with a girl who is much wealthier than him. However, through the process of winning Daisy Buchanan’s love, he struggles tremendously. James Gatz otherwise known as Gatsby grew up poor and had “visions of one day attaining wealth and happiness and, therefore, the golden girl that Nick Carraway, the voice of Fitzgeralds rational self, can only scoff at.” Because Jay Gatsby wanted to succeed in getting his dream girl he is an excellent example of how people during this time wanted to fulfill a certain fantasy of becoming rich and living a comfortable life, which in other words was referred to as the american dream. Many also think that Jay Gatsby is very gullible to believe that “the possession of wealth will enable him to vault over the middle class into a position of social eminence .” This means that most people thought that money wouldn’t give you happiness or change you from being a middle class person to someone who was rich and could get any girl they wanted. However, Gatsby’s case was different because the possession of wealth did in fact make him more confident and happy because he was able to impress Daisy. Gatsby does well showing that social class has nothing to do with love. Daisy and Gatsby do have different social classes but her superior status doesn’t stop Gatsby from trying to win over the girl of his dreams. Once he has the girl however he realises that it wasn’t as fun as the “chase” of almost having her.

Jay Gatsby is a character who faces many challenges throughout the book but always overcomes them in the end. These challenges include not coming from money, falling in love with a girl whos married, getting into some trouble with the wrong people and many others. He used to be poor growing up and fell in love with a girl who was rich. Gatsby believed that in order to win her over he thought she wanted someone as rich as her so he worked to become a wealthy man. He became rich in a not so legal way but still ends up with the girl he dreamed. This however will lead to his own murder later on in the book. “The American dream promised the deepest and richest self fulfillment for those who would make the most of their natural abilities. It was, of course, partly about money and comfort, but it was also about achievement and dignity.” However Gatsby was unlike most people of that time period. He didn’t do it for the money or social status but instead he did it to impress the girl of his dreams. Gatsby is known for his lavish and expensive parties as well as his optimistic attitude towards life. This elusive dream that he so desperately craved was a constant thought in Gatsby’s mind. He wanted the girl and the girl only but once he got that he felt almost short changed. He was definitely happy he was able to finally have something that he’s worked hard for for so long but what he did not realise is that he loved the almost intangible idea of having her.

The novel The Great Gatsby as well as many of F. scott Fitzgerald’s other works like The Sensible Thing have a common theme of how the american dream is not so easy to attain. Jay Gatsby and George O’kelly are two primary examples of how this idea of the “american dream” which includes wealth and social class are hard to come by and most people in there life work so hard for it, but never actually have it. People like Gatsby and George were poor boys who grew up working hard for what they wanted and in the end got what they wanted. But for many people dreams are often just dreams and never happen to become real. The people who want to live this dream tend to be middle class people like Gatsby or George and the main reason why they want the money is because they want to impress a wealthy girl like Daisy or Jonquil. Gatsby figures if he has money he can have Daisy, so he works and works to make it.    

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