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The American Dream - The Great Gatsby

What is the "American Dream"? Outline in detail this philosophical notion including a brief history of the United States, and specific examples of the dream. What is Gatsby's dream? Is it the same? Are his methods of achieving it the same as the "AD"

Peter Oliveira

on 3 April 2013

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Transcript of The American Dream - The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby The American Dream The main idea was about hope, and about being able to come from nothing and be successful in the world through hard work and dedication.
Focuses on the essentials in life (family, house and food). “All that glitters is not gold” The American Dream is usually associated with happiness and joy.
But this gives us the false idea that money and prosperity is a physical equality of happiness and this is not true.
For many people a big house and two cars remains out of their reach and the American dream becomes more of a cruel joke, or a fantasy that is not really there.
The American Dream is possible, but most people don’t see it this way because they want it to be easy.
For some it may take decades, for others, it may easily become true in a year, but everyone is responsible for making it come true themselves "The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
-James Truslow Adams - The Land of
Opportunity The American dream itself is all about hope and opportunity.
The idea is that when you live in the United States, no matter how hard you may have had it, with some hard work anyone can reach their goals.
Even if you were not born in America once you moved there a whole world of opportunity becomes available and you can do anything you set your mind to.
The American Dream does not discriminate and can be shared by every citizen of the United States. The “American Dream” is a term we hear commonly thrown around, and is a very prevalent theme in the book The Great Gatsby.
The definition basically means that through hard-work and dedication, anyone in the United States can achieve success and live a happy life.
However the meaning behind it can be expanded much further beyond its face value. 1600-1920 The original idea of the American Dream is often lost and has now become more about being rich, than just not being poor.
Now it has been replaced with greed, where nothing is good enough until we have overwhelming amounts of money. Avoiding poverty and loneliness.
There are people that corrupt our dreams and make it extremely difficult to achieve our dreams.
There is an endless search to define happiness.
Our dreams have the ability to control us and become very materialistic.
Achieve success through the least work possible.
There is a desire to live a better life than the previous generation did. 1920-present Living the Dream The physical representation of the generic “American Dream” is being married with two kids, in a nice house with two cars and a white picket fence.

Achieving this would mean you were successful and have everything you could ask for. The American Dream originated in the 1600’s in the beginning of American settlement.
It has always been about hope with mostly poor immigrants searching for opportunities in this new land.
This idea of the American dream and hope was also embodied in the Declaration of Independence where “all man are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
The American Dream was formed through the hopes of early Americans who dreamed of the endless possibilities in front of them. Where it all Began By Peter Oliveira, Aiden Fung, Andrew Hubber, Milan Izzo This is what Jay Gatsby did in the novel,
he set a dream and he worked until he
reached it. However this also brings
some controversy into the idea as
Jay Gatz did not become “The Great Gatsby” through honest methods, and poses the question of whether the
“dream” is truly achievable through
just hard work. The "American Dream" has become materialistic, where people seek to do minimal work, and possess many things. We have been consumed with the idea of the white picket fence and big house to the point that we believe possessions are what make us happy and successful. Gatsby's Dream Gatsby’s dream is not of wealth or fortune but rather of a life with Daisy. The green light on the end of Daisy's dock is a symbol for this and represents not the American Dream but rather Gatsby’s dream. He desires wealth and social status strictly for a means to allure Daisy as she value’s money and status the most in her life. Proof of this can be seen through his mansion. For the most part it is an extravagant building that displays Gatsby’s wealth and power, filled with expensive possessions and a vast library of books. However his bedroom, which is the only room that he uses, is mostly empty. Originating in the earlier days of settlement throughout the United States. At first the American dream was thought to be pursued through hard work and dedication. When settlers first came to America, they had one goal, to be successful. The first man to create what was known as the American dream was Benjamin Franklin. He never wanted money or fame, he wanted to be successful, and successful in Franklin’s eyes was to make an impact. He did not seek money power and fame, he ensured that things get done for a better community, not for self-gain. These types of morals and characteristics were flipped around by the time the 1920’s came. Hard work actually means a lot of things like working smart, working better, working safer and working more productively Happiness:
a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. ``Happiness is having what you want, and wanting what you have``

- Josh Billings - Examples of the American Dream Life Partner Playing Food Family Job Home - Security Money Believing Education Vacation Good Health Hope In “The Great Gatsby” we see that morals like these were very hard to find in people. Some people were born into old money, Like Tom, Daisy, and Jordan. They don’t have to work a day in their life to reach their goals; everything anyone could ever dream of is right in front of them. Although for a character like Gatsby, he needs to work for his money because he does not come from a background like the others. We can see that the dream has been corrupted through Gatsby by the way he obtains his riches, through illegal bootlegging of alcohol. In the Great Gatsby we can see that the American dream is not what it used to be, very few have the same determination that those of previous generations had, and because of this the desperate need for power and fame take over what it truly means to be successful. The American Dream is too often seen as just the physical accomplishment, and the true meaning behind it has been lost over the years. the original idea is that if you come to the states, anyone willing to put in hard work and dedication can achieve their goals and reach great success. However America seems to have lost sight of this notion as now the dream is more about the end result rather than the steps working towards it and the possibilities for anyone to achieve success. The American Dream today is not the same thing it was when it was first created. it has been changed from possibilities for anyone who puts in hard work, and reaching success through hard work, to just being rich and successful no matter how you get the money. This is shown in the Great Gatsby as most of the rich people did not have to work for their money and just inherited it, and the ones who do have to work for it ( the people in the ash valley) are still poor. Our world has become consumed with greed and the American Dream no longer means what it once did. The American Dream has been changed by greed and laziness to where achieving the American Dream does not mean starting from nothing and working hard to achieve success anymore, but now it means that just having lots of money and being rich means that you accomplished the American Dream. In Conclusion Social Classism is portrayed as an infectious disease amongst the rich, spreading a sense of self entitlement like wildfire. Tom is a perfect example of this, always putting himself above others. Tom comes from “old money” meaning that his family has been wealthy for generations. This is unlike Gatsby who has recently acquired his fortune and has not yet learned how to be fashionable with his money. Gatsby does not adhere to the social structure or hierarchy that Tom does. Evidence of this can be seen through Gatsby’s obscure parties and his obnoxious automobile.

“I’d seen it. Everybody had seen it. It was a rich cream colour, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat- boxes and supper-boxes and tool- boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind- shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town” (Fitzgerald 63)

This hierarchy of the classes limits the growth one can make in their life time, completely destroying the American Dream as rich people in this time often did not allow this to happen as they enjoyed having power over people. The differences between the classes is portrayed perfectly by Fitzgerald through the contrast between West Egg, East Egg and The valley of ashes. Compare and Contrast
Old vs. New Gatsby’s desire for this life fuels his ambition, so much that he is willing to perform criminal acts to achieve his goal. This is contradictory of American dream as Gatsby does not acquire his fortune through hard work but rather through criminal exploits. This is evidence that the American dream has since been fouled by corruption. During Nick`s first encounter with Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby introduces Wolfsheim as “the man who rigged the World Series”.

"Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: "He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919."

"Fixed the World's Series?" I repeated. […]

“How did he do that to do that?” I asked after a minute.

"He saw the opportunity." (Fitzgerald 71)

This shows that America has become polluted with crime and that one cannot succeed strictly though hard work anymore. In this case the World Series represents America as a whole, as baseball at the time is seen as strictly America’s game. The fact that something so pure and patriotic could be corrupted is proof that America and any ideals that were once present have been tainted with crime. However crime is not the only thing that plagues the American dream in the novel. The American Dream involves hard work and dedication. These two things seem to be non-existent in the novel. Characters such as Tom, Daisy, Jordan and Nick that come from money are portrayed as lazy. Gatsby and Meyer Wolfshiem, have put in some work and are motivated, but still do not put the effort forth to acquire their wealth legally. Instead, opting for the easy way out. The people in the novel that do make an honest living such as George Wilson for example, live in the poverty stricken valley of Ashes. From this one can conclude that hard work alone is no longer enough to fulfill ones dreams and that one must have other advantages in life in order to succeed.

“There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.” (Fitzgerald 41)

This quote describes the parties Gatsby has; the parties themselves are symbols for the carelessness of the rich as people who are poor do not attend. The American Dream turns nightmarish
August 31, 1993|By Stephen Franklin | Stephen Franklin, Chicago Tribune

How does this lament strike you?

Our pay raises are zilch, and our job security is history.

Our bank accounts are skimpy. Our debts are hefty, and our dreams of buying a first house or a bigger house or affording the kids' college bills are mirages.

We got the right degrees. We worked hard. We played by the rules. But our days are not the sunny ones we or our parents expected.

If you are nodding in agreement, then you belong to the generation of disgruntled baby boomers who, according to Katherine Newman, will be the first since the Great Depression not to do better financially than their parents.

There is nothing new about the realization that the American dream began to turn sour for millions in the 1980s. Liberal economists and sociologists began pointing to the problem as thousands of high-paying factory jobs disappeared in the last decade.

The tolling of the nation's economic stall eventually was picked up by political analysts, including one-time Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, who spoke of the potent rage of the financially unfulfilled middle class in his book earlier this year, "Boiling Point."

Dr. Newman, an anthropologist at Columbia University, adds a description of how disgruntled middle-class Americans have let their economic woes color their personal views of the world.

Her most striking observation is that the boomers' unique disappointment may lead to harsh political confrontations in the 1990s, greater intolerance for the less fortunate and an unraveling of the "unspoken social contract that glues America together."

While her definition of the problem is correct, there are problems with focus -- and this creates a somewhat flawed picture. In some cases, the economic situation is not as bad, and in others, it is far worse than she says.

There is little mention, for example, of the children of recent immigrants, the children of Asian, Latino and Arab families who have made great economic strides. Nor is there much accounting of the vast economic success seen by black middle-class Americans.

Similarly, the growing ranks of the nation's working poor, and the unskilled black lower classes trapped in cities bereft of well-paying jobs, are ghosts in this sweeping portrait. They are mostly absent because they do not live in the world Dr. Newman explored: an older New Jersey suburb that expanded with the arrival of World War II veterans and blue-collar families and is largely restricted by the explosion in housing costs to white, better-educated, white-collar professionals.

Nonetheless, Dr. Newman, whose work is based on more than 150 interviews during two years, offers an insightful analysis of what daily living has come to feel like in thousands of places where life might seem to outsiders like heaven on Earth.
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