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The Great Gatsby: The American Dream

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Emily Westcott

on 3 April 2013

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: The American Dream

What is the American Dream? The American Dream It was first established in the Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” (US 1776)
It implies that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve prosperity, although the idea of prosperity has been defined many different ways over time. The American Dream
& The Great Gatsby In The Great Gatsby, the theme of The American Dream is omnipresent
Fitzgerald ridicules the chase for The American Dream through each of his characters The American Dream and its Effects- Some Quotes New Money Vs. Old Money In the Great Gatsby the issue of the division of societal classes is a main concern
Fitzgerald delves deeper into this theme by exploring the divide that exists within the upper class.
The constant tension between those of “New Money” and those of “Old Money” plays a central role in the novel’s story line
Each class strives to attain the American Dream, which has become a corrupted idea associated with the pursuit of wealth, rather then with the pursuit of happiness. "If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him" (2) - Nick Carraway on Jay Gatsby Gatsby’s longing for Daisy is his longing for the American Dream.
1920’s definition of the American Dream: Unrestrained desire for money
Daisy = "goddess" of the American Dream
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” (Fitzgerald 127).
He cannot see past his memories of her, and does not understand that she is really an example of the corruption wealth can bring. Nick is able to see through the Buchanans, saying that “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald 170)
Their disregard for human feelings creates a social divide between them and other classes, whom Nick believes to more caring.
Nick tells Gatsby that “They’re a rotten crowd...You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together” (Fitzgerald 162), admitting he believes Gatsby to be a good man. "I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island, and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door... and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with an amusement park" (41) - Nick Carraway on Gatsby's parties
People go to any length to achieve their own version of the "dream". Immigration to America Following the American Dream Nick is trying to follow his American Dream, and live on his “new money”
Gets a common job, tries to lead a simple life, and lives in East Egg. The main difference between the two Eggs has to do with the type of upper-class people living in each one.
“I lived at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. [...] Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history
of the summer really begins on the evening I
drove over there to have dinner with the
Buchanans” (Great Gastby, 5) American Dream as a Tool The American dream is one of the most important themes in The Great Gatsby.The American success story is that of hard work allowing a man to become incredibly wealthy. After attaining the material wealth, however, there is no clearly outlined steps to take. Fitzgerald shows how the American dream can fail in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby makes his money illegally by selling alcohol during an era of prohibition
His purpose is in attaining the love of Daisy, a girl he dated before the war, who comes from an old wealthy American family. In a way, Gatsby’s dream is not actually Daisy, but his past memory of her
Gatsby watches for the green light at the dock in front of Daisy’s dock. The color green symbolizes the American dream, corrupted by the opulence and materialism of the 1920s.
“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had vanished forever. Compared to the great discovery that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (Great Gatsby, 98) "I want to see you.... Get on the next train" (26) -Tom to Myrtle on their illicit relationship
Myrtle feeds off of those who have attained the dream. Myrtle goes to Tom to fulfill her desire for the dream.
Tom goes to Myrtle to fill the void he is left with. He seeks to find his happiness elsewhere without truly accepting it. Winter Dreams The American Dream & "Winter Dreams" Much like in The Great Gatsby, the American Dream is a very prevalent theme to "Winter Dreams"
Conflict between 'old money' and 'new money'
Dexter pursues the American Dream Following the American Dream Dexter is enraptured by Judy Jones and she sparks the American Dream in him.
He spends the majority of his younger years chasing her, and ultimately the Dream.
"He wanted not association with glittering things and glittering people--he wanted the glittering things themselves. Often he reached out for the best without knowing why he wanted it--and sometimes he ran up against the mysterious denials and
prohibitions in which life indulges. It is with
one of those denials and not with his career
as a whole that this story deals." American Dream as a Tool The American Dream is stirred in Dexter Green after his first meeting with Judy Jones, a young girl at the time.
""I think I'll quit." The enormity of his decision frightened him. He was a favorite caddy, and the thirty dollars a month he earned through the summer were not to be made elsewhere around the lake. But he had received a strong emotional shock, and his perturbation required a violent and immediate outlet."
Although his pursuance of Judy did not neccesarily correlate with his rise to wealth and status, the sight of her opulence and nature born of wealth sparked his own desire for the "glittering things"
A few years later Dexter's success and capturing of the Dream leads to a second meeting with Judy, after which they begin casually dating, though only occasionally.
Dexter's pursuance of the American Dream is higlighted by his desire for the "glittering things", with the crown jewel being Judy. After attaining everything else, he still loses Judy and his Dream crumbles. Effects of the American Dream- Quotes "He made money. It was rather amazing. After college he went to the city from which Black Bear Lake draws its wealthy patrons. When he was only twenty-three and had been there not quite two years, there were already people who liked to say: "Now there's a boy--""
Dexter's initial success gives the reader the idea that he should be happy. "His heart turned over like the fly-wheel of the boat, and, for the second time, her casual whim gave a new direction to his life."
Judy carelessly pursues her dreams and passing fancies. Dexter is the latter. But to hi,, she is everything. "Before he was twenty-seven he owned the largest string of laundries in his section of the country. It was then that he sold out and went to New York. But the part of his story that concerns us goes back to the days when he was making his first big success."
Majority of the American Dream is fulfilled..... except happiness The dream was gone. Something had been taken from him. In a sort of panic he pushed the palms of his hands into his eyes and tried to bring up a picture of the waters lapping on Sherry Island and the moonlit veranda, and gingham on the golf-links and the dry sun and the gold color of her neck's soft down. And her mouth damp to his kisses and her eyes plaintive with melancholy and her freshness like new fine linen in the morning. Why, these things were no longer in the world! They had existed and they existed no longer.


For the first time in years the tears were streaming down his face. But they were for himself now. He did not care about mouth and eyes and moving hands. He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back any more. The gates were closed, the sun was gone down, and there was no beauty but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.


"Long ago," he said, "long ago, there was something in me, but now that thing is gone. Now that thing is gone, that thing is gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will come back no more."
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