Gatsby’s American Dream: Ideal?

May 11, 2017
By rahulz99 BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
rahulz99 BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
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Gatsby’s American Dream: Ideal?
In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald illustrates the underbelly of the American Dream by showing us the deceptive ways it can be achieved. This great American novel, told through the point of view of Nick Carraway, the main character, allows Gatsby’s story to be told by an unbiased source. In the novel, Carraway has said, “I’m inclined to reserve all judgements”(Fitzgerald 1),which supports that the novel was told from a neutral perspective, giving the reader a chance to develop their own opinions about Jay Gatsby.
Setting a goal, working hard to achieve it, grinding it out through thick and thin, trusting the process, and eventually making millions, also known as The American Dream, has brought people to believe that as long as you keep your head down and keeping working, you will, at the end, look up to a big mansion, with the wife or husband of your dreams, the perfect kids, and that ‘58 corvette you have had your eye on for the last twenty-five years. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some, but not all, people do, attain the American Dream. As Marsh stated, in Fitzgerald, Gatsby, and The Last Tycoon: The `American dream' and the Hollywood dream factory, “The others, not blessed with luck to achieve the dream, have to settle for anything to keep them up financially afloat. In The Great Gatsby, the Valley of Ashes represents this concept of the waned American Dream and describes it as ,” A fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.(23)” The loss of the of the American Dream, started to make the characters living in the Valley of Ashes lose themselves.
While moral corruption is chipping away at the people in the Valley of Ashes, other forms of corruption are taking over West and East Egg. In West Egg, the corruption is based a lot around falsely-earned money. In Carraway’s case, he inherited his money through his ancestors. As Nick stated, “...the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on to-day” (Fitzgerald 3). How Gatsby made his fortune is not 100% guaranteed, but by speculation, he made it by bootlegging.
Wealth. When most people picture the American Dream, the image is of dollar signs. Something that has not changed is what wealth can do to one’s life and lifestyle. “...the history of all aspiration-not just the American Dream but the human dream” (Callahan). Callahan is depicting the idea that wealth and freedom aren’t dreams people want to achieve only in America, but all over the world. Though, the idea of money seems great, it’s how Gatsby uses it that makes wealth have a new meaning. Gatsby uses money like how a person uses a solve problems. As Decker stated in Gatsby's Pristine Dream: The Diminishment of the Self-Made Man in the Tribal Twenties, “...deficiencies inherent in contemporary manifestations of the American vision itself" (Decker). Decker is depicting how the American Dream is being used as something that it was not meant to be. Gatsby is a prime example of this. Once people have their share of wealth, they throw parties, live in mansions and buy that  ‘58 corvette, I alluded to earlier. All of these Gatsby did, but he bought these things not for himself ,no, but for a woman he deeply was in love with.
The problem is not that Gatsby was in love, but instead the mockery he made of the American Dream. Gatsby used illegal tactics to gain a wealth that he planned to lure his love, Daisy, with. As Gatsby said, in Chapter 7, “Her voice was full of money” (Fitzgerald 120). Just previously, Daisy was talking in a manner, someone with wealth and class would speak. This shows that Daisy is very comfortable living a rich environment and wants nothing but money surrounding her existence. Gatsby, knowing this information, takes Daisy into his mansion, hoping she sees the “success” Gatsby made himself into.  Callahan hits the nail on the head when he stated in ,F. Scott Fitzgerald's evolving American dream: The "pursuit of happiness" in Gatsby, Tender Is the Night, and The Last Tycoon, “Until Gatsby makes love to Daisy, he projects little soul or feeling, only a self-absorbed passion mixed up with his urge to defy American boundaries of class, status, and money” (Callahan). This shows how blinded Gatsby was due to his love for Daisy. At the end of it, Gatsby ended up without Daisy. He spent five years building his new million dollar image, all to come back with nothing left to show for it.
The American Dream and how to achieve it has different meanings and conception, based on who answers. It is a dream where one person might see the light at the end of the tunnel as white, blue or red. In Gatsby’s case, he saw the light at the end of the tunnel as green. While other people drove the speed limit on the way to the end of the tunnel, Gatsby was speeding down the road avoiding lights, signs and speed bumps. As Jordan Baker said, “It takes two to make an accident” (Fitzgerald 58). Here, Fitzgerald is comparing a car accident to a relationship. Gatsby had been driving down the road at a mirage of Daisy and without hesitation, blazed down the road to be with her. This ultimately led to Gatsby crashing into George Wilson and led to Gatsby’s demise. What goes around, comes around. Gatsby’s vision of the American Dream did not enhance his life,but unhinged it. The detour Gatsby took led him the way most criminals end up, behind bars ,or in his case,dead.    

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