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The Great Gatsby and the 'American Dream'

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zoya m

on 22 July 2014

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby and the 'American Dream'

One of the major themes in the Great Gatsby is 'the American Dream' and the how different types of people perceive it, value it, and desire it.
Major Theme in
Great Gatsby
The American dream has many aspects to it. It is perceived differently by different people. The idea of “The American Dream” is a very ideal part in the Great Gatsby and is what evidently leads Jay Gatsby on the attempt of reuniting his love with Daisy. As well there are angles of the “Corrupted American Dream” visible in the book.
What is the American Dream?
Dictionary definition: The traditional social ideals of the US, such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity.
Many people have different perceptions of it and that’s why to this day, not everyone can agree with the exact way it should be portrayed.
The one thing that everyone can agree on is that the “American Dream” represents a perfect lifestyle.

Corruption associated with the American Dream
The 'American Dream' is the ultimate goal for many, but the things people will do to achieve this goal, and do after they achieve the goal are corrupted.
People cheat, and commit fraud to achieve the American Dream.
They betray the ones who help them achieve the dream.
The American Dream would have to literally be a dream in order for everything to be fair, and everyone to be faithful.
By:Zoya Mushtaq
The Great Gatsby
and the 'American Dream'

“From Rags to Riches”
For a lot of people 'The American Dream' is connected to becoming wealthy and the ability to achieve everything if one only works hard enough for it. For others it is much more and is beyond materialism. For them it is the dream of living a simple, happy and fulfilling life and the most important features being faith and equality.

Corruption associated with the American Dream within
The Great Gatsby
For some, wealth, material possessions, and power are the core values of “The American Dream."
For many Americans, the dream is based solely upon reaching a higher standard of living.
The belief of the American dream, in that success and prosperity come from honest labor is inaccurate. Most citizens living the American dream are in some way corrupted within the process of achieving the dream or from the American Dream.

Jay Gatsby
Jay is an example of a corrupt citizen in achieving the American Dream
Jay learned how to speak intelligently so that he seems as if he came from a wealthy family
Although Jay Gatsby had the intentions of getting Daisy back into his life, the way he tries to achieve the American dream is in a corrupted way.
He believed he could achieve the American dream with financial success through unacceptable actions (fraud). Although there was not 100% proof that the root to Gatsby’s riches was through bootlegging there was a lot of evidence to infer that it is true.
There were multiple situations in which the reader felt like Jay was in some type of under the counter business.
When Wolfshein first met Nick he thought Nick was looking for business as he says, “I understand your looking for a business gonnegation,” and Gatsby quickly responds saying Nick is not the man he is thinking of. This makes the reader question what type of 'under the counter' business and deals are happening between Gatsby and Wolfshein, and whether they are legal.
In Chapter 7 Gatsby’s drugstore business and what he is doing currently was questioned by Tom, and made the readers think it may be an illegal business. With this evidence, and taking in mind that Gatsby is an avid liar, as he lied about his parent’s death it seems that he earns his money in an unfair way. Gatsby has part of the American dream, with endless amounts of money, but he got it in a corrupted and not honest way.
Myrtle Wilson
Myrtle believed she could achieve her vision of the American dream by marrying wealth and acting as if she was in a higher social class.
She even rejects her own social class, as in chapter 2 she says, “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I had made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in.” pg 35.
In the end Myrtle gets hit by a car.
Tom Buchanan
Tom Buchanan had what most people considered to be the “American Dream.” He had a good job, house, he was very wealthy, and had a beautiful wife and child.
However Tom did not see this as being enough. Tom Buchanan had the American dream but the only aspect he cared about was remaining wealthy.
Although Tom may not have achieved his money in a illegal manner, he is corrupt due to his wealth throughout his whole life. He felt like he could betray his family yet still have their loyalty
Different Viewpoints on the American Dream
Many people have different opinions on their own version of the ‘American Dream.’

Many dreams are shared between both native, and immigrant Americans. The national dreams are sets of beliefs that unify and inspire the country

Immigrants viewed the American dream as a better life in general, for them and their families.
Immigrants did not view it as having the ultimate amount of money, or largest house, but viewed it as a place where they can have security and opportunities

Different Characters Viewpoints on the American Dream
People who lived in America from birth had a very different perception of the American dream. They envisioned their lives as picture perfect. They imagined themselves being filthy rich with everything they could ever imagine.
As touched on previously it is obvious that different people have different view points on the American Dream. This is the same for characters in T
he Great Gatsby.
Daisy Buchanan
Daisy envisioned her American dream as herself being a happy wife, with a happy family, with a lot of money.
Daisy puts a lot of emphasis on the money aspect, as she did not marry Jay years ago since he did not have enough money.
Daisy represents upper class women in this exclusive group of super wealthy families during these times. Daisy wanted to have her American dream with Jay after her experience with Tom was not well.
Daisy constantly attempts to keep herself busy through social activities and interaction, which deal with money. “’What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?’...’and the day after that, and the next thirty years?’” (Chapter 1). Nick, himself, mentioned that, “’Her voice is full of money,’” (Chapter 1)
Tom Buchanan
Tom’s view on of the American dream, like said before was focused around money and power. He did not take into consideration the part about having a perfect family, as he cheated on his wife and searched for things his wife could not give him. He represents the side of society that never gets satisfied with what they have and always want more.
"His family were enormously wealthy — even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach — but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance, he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that." (Chapter 1)
Tom was very rich, and saw that as the core part of the American dream.
Jay Gatsby
Gatsby's longing for Daisy--->Gatsby's longing for the American Dream.
The 1920's definition of the 'American Dream:' Unrestrained desire for money.
"Her voice was full of money- that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it the cymbals' song in it (Chapter 1). This shows that Daisy is a representation of value for Jay.

The American Dream is a very ideal part in the Great Gatsby and is what leads Jay on an attempt to reunite with Daisy. Jay has the rich, with a huge house part of the American dream, but he does not have the important part which is the sense of belonging, family, and infinite happiness.

His longing desire for Daisy and the way she could complete his life was the reason for many things he had done. His desire for Daisy leads him to acquire everything he has.

The American Dream and Jay’s desire for Daisy


The American dream is something that is perceived differently by different people. It was a major theme in the novel
the Great Gatsby.
There was a lot of corruption associated with the idea of ‘The American Dream’ as well. It is also what leads Jay Gatsby on the attempt of reuniting his love with Daisy.
The green light at the end of Daisy's dock is symbolic for both 'The American Dream', why America is perceived as a land of opportunity with limitless possibilities which could be obtained by commitment and hard work. Part of Gatsby's dream was to repeat the past and be reunited with Daisy. Gatsby believed he could achieve the American dream and live in the past. The last quote in the book is, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” (chapter 9).This shows the reader that Gatsby was a dreamer and his ultimate dream was the American Dream a.k.a being with Daisy. Jays desire for his American dream is what lead him to Daisy as she was his dream.
The American Dream is a wide ranged topic and theme in the novel
The Great Gatsby
and it is hoped that knowledge has come from this.
Thanks for watching :)

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