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The Death of the American Dream

An AP English Language presentation related to "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Sedonna Goeman-Shulsky

on 13 December 2012

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Transcript of The Death of the American Dream

The Death of the American Dream Sedonna Goeman-Shulsky
Period 6
AP English Language
Mr. Eisner
12-13-12 Characters in Place: The Valley of Ashes,
West Egg, and East Egg God and Capitalism Gatsby as a Son of God God, America, and Gatsby Watchful Eyes Myrtle and George Wilson Jay Gatsby The Symbolism of the Settings Manipulation of Social Relations Resulting in Gain American Individualism The Valley of Ashes:
Depicted in monotone colors
must be transversed to get to other places: "...desolate and abandoned strip of land that people travel through on their way to New York City." (Verderame)
Myrtle and George Wilson

West Egg:
New Wealth;
"American dream" is almost complete: "[Daisy] was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented 'place'... She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand." (Fitzgerald, 107)
Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway

East Egg:
Old wealth: "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 Tom Buchanans." (Fitzgerald, 5)
comfort; complete "American dream"
Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker Myrtle-- uses Tom to achieve a higher social status and material goods
George-- works hard to achieve wealth, but will never achieve the inherited level of Tom's wealth and status
Both Myrtle and George try to find ways to access the American dream in a sense of wealth and happiness
both methods fail Gatsby obtains wealth through Dan Cody, a corrupt man
Wealth isn't old wealth, but new wealth, even if through corrupted inheritance
Lives in West Egg, the "less fashionable" of the two wealthy regions, and strives to be across the bay
Being across the bay becomes symbolism for obtaining dreams
Illustrated by the green light:
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us." (Fitzgerald, 180)
Green light is on East egg, at the end of Daisy's dock
Thus the green light represents Gatsby's version of the American Dream-- Daisy, wealth, and legacy Tom and Daisy "...[Jay Gatsby]...sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a Son of God-- a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that-- and he must be about his Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty." (Fitzgerald, 98)

"He knew that when he kissed this girl [Daisy] and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God." (Fitzgerald, 110)
Eckleburg's eyes in The Valley of Ashes observe the characters traveling through
observes Tom and Myrtle's adultery, Myrtle's death and Daisy and Gatsby's role in it, Wilson's first acts of aggression
substitution of capitalism through God is represented by TJ Eckleburg-- whose eyes are an advertisement on a billboard posted over the poorest, most desperate social order represented in the book
The observing eyes relate to God, who is mentioned throughout the book and watches the moral decay of the main characters Death of the Dream The Goal of this Analysis Origin of the American Dream Works Cited Gatsby- manipulates and designs his future by using an ideal self and his wealth to solidify a different social position
eg: organizes the meeting with Daisy through Jordan and Nick; creates an environment of opulence to attract those from the East Egg or old social order
Tom- manipulates using his prime place in the social orders to secure his social status, wealth, and marital status
eg: tells Wilson that Gatsby killed Myrtle despite knowing Gatsby would end up dead; he did so for security in his marriage and status and because he saw Gatsby as expendable. Informational slides: 1. Bewley, Marius. "Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America." Twentieth Century Interpretations of The Great Gatsby: A ...............Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ernest Lockridge. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968. 37-53. Print.
2.Lehan, Richard. The Great Gatsby: The Limits of Wonder. New York: Twayne, 1995. Print.
3.Minter, David L. "Dream, Design, and Interpretation in The Great Gatsby." Twentieth Century Interpretations of The Great ................Gatsby: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ernest Lockridge. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968. 82-89. ................Print.
4.Putnam, LuElla. "The American Dream". Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts on File, Inc., 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
5.Verderame, Carla. "The American Dream in the Great Gatsby". Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts on File, Inc., 2011. ................Web. 04 Dec. 2012.
6."F. Scott Fitzgerald Remembered on Centennial of His Birth." All Things Considered 19 Sept. 1996. Literature Resource .................Center. Web. 4 Dec. 2012. Images: 1. A view of 5th Avenue, New York City, showing a traffic officer in the center. 1920. AP Images. Associated Press. Photograph. 6 Dec., ..............2012.
2. Author Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald poses with his wife Zelda Sayre and his daughter Scottie in their apartment in Paris, France. 1925. AP ...............Photo. Associated Press. Photograph. 6 Dec., 2012.
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald seated. Copyright Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images. Associated Press. Photograph. 6 Dec., 2012. Gatsby's perception of Daisy Actions on the Past Thesis Sources: Putnam, LuElla. Minter, David L.
Verderame, Carla. None of those who lavishly partied with Gatsby were there to support Gatsby after death
only Nick and Gatsby's Jewish father, whom he spent a lot of time avoiding in order to reinvent his persona
"...it grew upon me [Nick] that I was responsible, because no one else was interested-- interested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to which every one has some vague right at the end." (172)
Gatsby symbolizes the American dream and all of it's flaws
his death is a moral lesson about only pursuing the material which is so much of the American dream concept Gatsby and His Dream Gatsby's comparison to God relates to the comparison of Americans to God's chosen people made evident through prosperity
a concept linked to "the American Dream"
Gatsby is thus symbolic of the American movement towards the "American Dream" where chosen by God is replaced by advancement through capitalism
self-creation, ascent from poor upbringing to lavish wealth, possessed the qualities described in the concept of individual advancement "...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 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 Epic of America, 1931

Fitzgerald targets the idea of American individualism (a foundational concept for "the American dream") throughout "The Great Gatsby" through use of symbolism and allegory
locates the fallacies of the concept: idealism, nostalgia, social order, materialistic values In exploring F. Scott Fitzgerald's characters and settings in "The Great Gatsby" it is possible to unpack the concept of rugged American individualism which is foundational to the social order of the time period. He especially criticizes the concept of the "American dream" in relation to the idea that obtaining of wealth is the primary pathway to financial and social success. Failure of Gatsby's Dream Source: Minter, David L. Source: Bewley, Marius.
Lehan, Richard.
Putnam, LuElla. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Source: Sources: Verderame, Carla. Sources: Lehan, Richard.
Minter, David L. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-- 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...." (179)
Tom-- born into wealth and the object of "the American dream"
to maintain his status, he tells George Wilson that Gatsby killed Myrtle, causing the "mess" of Gatsby's murder that Nick "cleans up"
Daisy-- also born into wealth; materialistic;
Kills Myrtle and lets Gatsby takes the blame
Both--living the dream emptily and selfishly, driven by greed, arrogance, and entitlement
Tom wants Daisy except when he doesn't
Their child is used like an accessory, or a way to tie Tom and Daisy together and propagate their wealth Sources: "F. Scott Fitzgerald Remembered on Centennial of His Birth."
Lehan, Richard.
Minter, David L.
Putnam, LuElla. Gatsby objectifies Daisy and sees her as the key that will enable him to unlock a piece of his ideal self.
"He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was...." (Fitzgerald, 110) Sources: Lehan, Richard.
Minter, David L. Gatsby believed that the past could be repeated and moreover "fixed" by becoming part of Daisy's East Egg social order
His materialistic actions were ways to conceive of the past in a richer setting
Blames his past failures on his position of poverty
Re-envisions his Jewish past as Jay Gatz and origins, thus creating an "American" character: Jay Gatsby. Sources: Bewley, Marius.
Lehan, Richard.
Minter, David L. Sources: Lehan, Richard. A view of 5th Avenue, New York City, showing a traffic officer in the center, 1920. AP Images. Corruption and the Obtaining of Wealth "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city... Gatsby believed in...the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--to-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther.... And one fine morning---So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back carelessly into the past." (180)
Each character tries to gain success through corrupt methods, ignores the corruptness of their past, present, in the pursuit of a future based on wealth Gatsby managed to get wealth, mansion, and all material goods
fails to get a family through Daisy or any real relationships
Fitzgerald makes it obvious that the American dream is conflicting nostalgia and materialism
rather than beautiful, the American dream can be destructive if only based on wealth
greed leads to Gatsby's murder--thus the murder of his dream
Gatsby as an example of why not to search for the facades of capitalism:
"Because of the beauty of his dream and the heroism of his effort to move beyond it, Gatsby can be made great." (Minter, 89) Source: Minter, David L. Lehan, Richard.
Putnam, LuEllen. Source: Source: Minter, David L. F. Scott Fitzgerald seated. Date unknown. Copyright Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images. Author Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald poses with his wife Zelda Sayre and his daughter Scottie in their apartment in Paris, France, 1925. AP Images. Sources:
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