- May 5, 2020
TheGreat Gatsby: A Satirical Depiction of the Native American Dream
F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby depicts how the blind pursuitof the American dream dooms the main characters to a tragic ending.The author describes how the main characters blindly pursued theAmerican dream, which they thought would give them the life theyanticipated. At the beginning of Fitzgerald’screative fictional piece, the majorcharacters had high expectations of what they thought was the kind oflife they would have loved to get for the rest of their lives(Robert, Hirschl & Foster 111). However, at the climax of thenovel, the pursuit of the American dream turned out to be quiteillusory. Eventually, the inflated expectations that these charactershad, work against them. According to Kochan, this shows that in the1920s, people had high hopes about the American dream (89).Consequently, many individuals pursued it this is attributable tothe reason that this concept had been ingrained in the Americanculture, which could reflect the modern day times. Interestingly, theconcept of the American dream as portrayed in Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby isa misguided one. In other words, it is a vision that becomes elusivesince many people do not understand just how to go about pursuing thedream thus, such a pursuit can lead an individual to failure and anunsatisfactory ending.
First,the novel shows the pursuit of the American dream can lead a personto failure. Jay Gatsby who changes his name from James Gatsby is themain character through which the author vividly portrays how theAmerican dream eventually leads to failure (Kochan 65).Cullen described the American dream as a set of national ethos, whichemphasize that any willing individual can have the chance to prosperthrough hard work whereby no barriers exist to limit anyone’ssuccess irrespective of their nationality, background, gender, andreligious affiliation (76). In The Great Gatsby, theauthor gives a chronological account of how the American dreambegins, how people pursue it with the aim of attaining success thatcomes only after hard work, and the subsequent result of blindlypursuing it. In his fictional masterpiece, Fitzgerald initiallyplaces us in the early 1920s through a brief background of World WarI. Cullen indicated that this was a period of high tension in allparts of the United States (98). In chapter two, the authorintroduces a young and vibrant couple, George and Myrtle Wilson whoare working hard to elevate the standards of their life this is thefirst depiction of the American dream. In chapters four and five,Fitzgerald brings in Jay Gatsby’s ultimate objective, to win DaisyBuchanan. In spite of the expansive nature of the materialisticpossessions he has, winning Daisy would give him peace of mind thisresults in a relationship between Daisy and Gatsby. In the subsequentchapters, the author shows how Gatsby was able to accumulate a lot ofwealth as a result of his involvement in organized crime (Fitzgerald87). To Gatsby, this was the quickest way of obtaining the requisitewealth for wooing the woman he had loved ever since he set his eyeson her. However, things just do not turn out the way Gatsby expected.
Gatsby’sview of a perfect future is an illusory one this makes him failconsiderably as revealed at the end of the novel. At the beginning ofthe novel, it is evident that the American upper-class kind oflifestyle is the one that many people hoped to live. Such anexpectation made many people seek a flashy life that would bring themsatisfaction. Notably, Gatsby saw material wealth as the show of prosperity. According to Fitzgerald, when Gatsby had a chance to takea look at Daisy’s flamboyantly decorated residence, he developedhis own version of the kind of life he should live (94). Itcontrasted the kind of life he was born in, one in which dailystruggles are the norm. Taking a glimpse at Daisy’s house was thebeginning of the main character’s journey to pursuing the Americandream. Therefore, just as the American dream advocates the pursuit ofhappiness and satisfaction in the United States’ Declaration ofIndependence, Jay Gatsby decides to follow it. However, Gatsby optsfor the controversial route of amassing wealth to attain hispredetermined objectives. Specifically, Fitzgerald indicated that themain hero decides to resort to illegal alcohol deals in a bid to makewealth the quick and easy way (85). In his endeavors, Meyer Wolfsheimseemed to have played a pivotal role in aiding Gatsby to enrichhimself. As a fact, the energetic Gatsby is ready to subdue all moralbarriers in his pursuit of the American dream. Meanwhile, the mainhero is proud to have joined the ranks of the wealthy. Gatsby isdeeply convinced that he belongs to the privileged class as a resultof his fortunes. Subsequently, his efforts of winning Daisy gainmomentum. His romantic efforts do not cease after Daisy decided tomarry Tom Buchanan whom she feels will give her the kind of life sheanticipates (Fitzgerald 79). According to Daisy, Tom is the idealreflection of future security for the rest of her life.Interestingly, Gatsby does not give up after realizing the woman heloves has opted to marry a wealthy man. Instead, Gatsby believed thathe can give Daisy a better life (Fitzgerald 87). Therefore, thisshows that the materialistic mentality that Gatsby had, overrated theexternal appearances. Moreover, Gatsby’s moral decay makes himdevelop an interest for crowded parties, something he despisedearlier in his life. Fitzgerald systematically describes how the maincharacter in the novel engages in casual entertainments (38-42).During these social events, Gatsby was also able to meet severalprominent figures (Kochan 101). The experience made Gatsby feel thathe was indeed on the right track in his pursuit of the AmericanDream. It is during these crowded events that the narrator, NickCarroway, notices how the occurrences were quite distasteful.According to Nick Carroway, Gatsby does not see the unpleasant sideof the causal entertainments in West Egg. Carroway narrates, “Thesame sort of people, the same profusion of champagne, the same manycolored, many-keyed commotion” (Fitzgerald 67). The statement showsthat Jay Gatsby, just like his fellow party enthusiasts did not seethe absurdity of the events he was participating. From a moralperspective, the author shows the notions of success that many peoplehold usually have foundations on the wrong assumption.
Also,the nature of Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy makes his version ofthe American dream to fail considerably. Arguably, Gatsby wasseemingly obsessed with his love for Daisy. According to Fitzgerald,Daisy is a beautiful young woman who has charms that can tie any man(65). She is the embodiment of prestige, wealth, and prosperity.These qualities are the ones that Gatsby seeks to achieve in life.Thus, Gatsby feels that he will only reach his version of theAmerican dream if he won Daisy’s heart. The male hero sees “theking`s daughter, the golden girl” “high in a white palace”(Fitzgerald 75-76 Kochan 85). Daisy’s social status is one thatfew women of her age live. Gatsby sees her as something incrediblyvaluable. Moreover, Daisy’s voice makes his heart to skip thisshows how the main character in the novel is obsessed with thebeautiful Daisy. Nick Carroway narrates how Gatsby’s misguidedassumptions about love are as a result of the urge to bring back asense of romance he had lost a few years earlier (Fitzgerald 71). Aspart of Gatsby’s misguided understanding of love, he decides to buya luxurious mansion near Daisy’s house. He took this step with theaim of showing Daisy that he was the perfect match for him since hecould afford the kind of life that Daisy had lived since childhood.However, this was one of the plans he had crafted to reinvent himselfinto Daisy’s life. Other than purchasing a prestigious apartmentnear Daisy, Gatsby’s misguided obsession is also evident when helearns that Daisy opted to marry Tom Buchanan when Gatsby went to warand later to Oxford to further his studies. According to Fitzgerald,Gatsby decides to disregard Daisy and Tom’s marriage (85). Hecontinues to try his luck to win back the woman he had fallen in lovewith so intensely. Therefore, nobody could stand in his way in hispursuit of the American Dream. At that juncture, Gatsby, who is not anative member of the upper class, does not see the need to respectrelationships of the top rank associate of the American society.However, Daisy unlike Gatsby is not obsessed with her initialrelationship to the rich Gatsby. She feels that she cannot simplydesert her husband, Tom for Jay Gatsby (Fitzgerald 104). Instead, shewants to build the desired level of comfort and security in her life.To her, Tom is the only man who can provide her with the ideal kindof life she wants to live. Other than security, the main heroinefeels that with Tom, she would have jovial interactions, severalshopping adventures, and romantic dates (Fitzgerald 96). In bluntterms, Daisy felt that a life with Tom would bring her stability ascompared to one with Gatsby who was out at war at the time shedecided to marry. Carroway says that Daisy’s marriage to Tom wasone in which the objectives are difficult to discern. One thing thatstands out is that this was a marriage entailing the wealthy upperclass. Fitzgerald pointed out that Gatsby’s obsession with an upperclass woman was the major cause of the failure of his dream at theend of the novel (154). His American dream did not materialize theway he expected it to be.
Thepursuit of the American dream also leads Gatsby to failure due to hisself-abasement. Gatsby’s misguided views about wealth, socialclass, and love caused his untimely death. Concerning his views aboutlove, Gatsby is unrealistic because he seems to deceive himself.According to Fitzgerald, Gatsby disregards the inner character of thewoman he fell in love with (77). Instead, he values outside beauty.He remains blind about Daisy’s betrayal of the love they onceshared. Daisy betrayed the connection between Gatsby and her byopting to marry Tom since the former was out fighting for hiscountry. Surprisingly, Gatsby ignores Daisy’s betrayal and instead,decides to pursue her. At the prevailing circumstances, Gatsby couldhave opted to look for another young woman to marry instead oftrespassing into Daisy’s supposed marriage. Indeed, this impliesthat Gatsby was trapped in illusion hence, his perception of realitywas largely obscured by his intense obsession. The main hero’sillusory conduct manifests itself when he instigates a seeminglyperilous conflict with the wealthy and powerful Tom. Therefore, thismakes Tom to suspect Gatsby of making a move on his wife (Fitzgerald111). Tom’s suspicion becomes the beginning of Gatsby’s regretfulfate. Therefore, Tom decided to craft a way of revenge. He uses hissocial status to make everyone to believe that Gatsby killed GeorgeWilson’s wife, Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 114). Gatsby’s lack ofconcern about the safety and security of his future reveals howcareless he is about his life in his pursuit of his version of theAmerican dream. In essence, this shows that the main character in thenovel obliviously jeopardizes his life in his efforts of trying towin Daisy eventually, he dies alone.
Principally,Fitzgerald shows that a blind pursuit of the native American dreamcan lead a person to failure. Gatsby does not open his innerintuition to some of the signs of his failing dream. His involvementin illicit alcohol dealings and organized crime in an effort to winthe woman he loves dearly, leads him to success but only for a shortstint. His American dream also fails considerably due to hisobsession with Daisy. He disregards the fact that Tom and Daisy areboth from upper class families as opposed to his native low socialclass.
Besides,the pursuit of the desire cannot bring the characters to asatisfactory ending. The key characters in the novel begin with highhopes of the life they would want to live. These hopes are caused byvarious interpretations of an ideal life that one should live. Onecommon cause of their pursuit of different desires is the need tolive happily. The consequences of their efforts are diverse, whichleads them to an unsatisfactory endings.
JayGatsby is the perfect embodiment of the negative consequences ofpursuing the American dream blindly. Such pursuit did not bring himto a satisfactory ending. Gatsby comes from humble backgrounds inNorth Dakota. His parents are poor peasant farmers (Fitzgerald 17).Therefore, this motivates him to devise a way to uplift his lowstatus in life. As a result of his efforts, he becomesextraordinarily wealthy despite his humble beginnings. Other thanhaving been born in a poor family, Gatsby’s motivation for wealthis due to his obsession with Daisy. Gatsby blindly pursues Daisydespite her having chosen to marry Tom Buchanan, a man of high socialstanding (Fitzgerald 92). Gatsby feels that nothing should stand inhis way in his efforts to pursue all his dreams. According toGatsby’s perceptions about life, both moral and human barriers aremere stepping stones to success and prosperity. In his narration,Nick Carroway indicates “tomorrowwe will run faster, stretch out our arms farther”(Fitzgerald 64). Gatsby chooses to engage in organized crime to makea lot of wealth that according to his perception will enable him towin the beautiful and wealthy Daisy. Gatsby also considers Daisy’spreferred husband, Tom as a barrier to his love for her. For thisreason, he disregards Tom’s social status by making continuousmoves on Daisy (Fitzgerald 88). However, this becomes the beginningof an unsatisfactory ending of his version of the American dream.According to Robert, Hirschl, andFoster, in the traditional American dream, people only achievetheir objectives as a result of sheer hard work that is devoid ofget-rich-quick schemes (102). However, Gatsby’s version of theAmerican dream is one in which there is no harm in obtaining wealththrough any form of organized crime. Therefore, this makes him tomiss vital points about creating and sustaining success. Arguably,the cause of Gatsby’s obscured perception on prosperity has rootsin his unsuccessful stint working for Dan Cody. His attempts to workhard do not materialize when Cody’s ex-wife becomes the solebeneficiary of Cody’s entire estate (Fitzgerald 43). The effect ofhis unfruitful hard work approach is his involvement in illegal waysof making wealth the easy way. Therefore, while Gatsby was able tomake a lot of possessions, his blind pursuit of Daisy led him to anunsatisfactory ending. In the end, Gatsby dies tragically. Tominfluences George Wilson to develop a vengeful attitude towardsGatsby since the former wrongfully used his influence to accuse thelatter of killing George’s wife, Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 119).George shoots Gatsby to avenge the death of Myrtle Wilson. Therefore,in an attempt to get win back Daisy, Gatsby loses his life. Indeed,this is an unsatisfactory ending.
Anotheroutcome of the dream on a character is depicted in George Wilson. Atthe initial stages of the novel, the author portrays George as ayoung energetic man who aims at reaching the peak of his dreams. Hismarriage to Myrtle Wilson has placed him in a good position ofattaining the prosperity status. According to Fitzgerald, Georgeworks exceptionally hard in his shop (36). The reason for his hardwork is the increasing demands of life. As such, George works hard tomake the best out of his life. He pursues the American dream butalong the way, he seemingly does not give his wife the attention sheneeds. The consequence of his blind pursuit of his desire is Myrtle’sextramarital affair with Tom Buchanan (Rosch90). During the affair with Tom, Myrtle discovers that she canhave an alternative route to attaining both wealth and status throughthe former’s influential social standing. In the end, everythingturns out horribly wrong for George. His wife gets entangled in anaffair with the wealthy Tom (Fitzgerald 121). Furthermore, he loseshis wife, which compels him to develop a vengeful attitude towardsGatsby. Unknown to him, Gatsby is not the reason for his wife’suntimely death.
Daisy’svision of an ideal life makes her to decide to marry a man she didnot necessarily love. She married her because she sought stabilityand security. After Daisy and Gatsby make love on the night that theformer left for war, she soon decides to betray her love to Gatsby.She did this by marrying Tom, a young man who had the ability to giveher a luxurious lifestyle. Nick Carroway describes Daisy’s attitudeas a shallow one (Fitzgerald 67). Notably, this is attributable tothe manner in which Daisy decides to leave Gatsby for Tom. Later on,upon Gatsby’s return from war and studies at Oxford, she somewhatcheats on her husband with her former boyfriend (Rosch113). In the end, Daisy has an unsatisfactory ending since sherealizes she had not married the man she thought was the idealpersonification of safety and security.
Inessence, the author shows that most of the characters that pursuedthe American dream had an unsatisfactory ending. George ends uplosing his wife after her illicit affair with the influential Tom.For Jay Gatsby, he ends up losing everything including his lifeduring the process of pursuing his dreams. Surprisingly, Daisy whomhe fights for ends up with Tom. For Daisy, she ends up marrying a manwho has a vengeful attitude contrary to what she expected. Therefore,the characters turn out to have quite an unsatisfactory finish at theend of the novel.
Insummary, The Great Gatsby depicts how the Americandream can fail hence, bringing an unsatisfactory ending. Fitzgeraldmakes known the misconceptions that people have about the visiondespite the dream having been enshrined in America’s Declaration ofIndependence. The author achieves this through the love trianglebetween the two main characters and an ancillary character, Daisy,Gatsby, and Tom. Inconcise, F. Scott Fitzgerald`s TheGreat Gatsby shows theblind pursuit of the American dream dooms the main characters to atragic ending. Therefore, this signifies that when people opt topursue the American vision without a proper understanding of what canmake such a dream a success, the results can be devastating.
Cullen,Jima. TheAmerican Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation.
NY:Cengage, 2011. Print.
Firzgerald,F. Scott. TheGreat Gatsby.Wordsworth Classics, 2001. Print.
Kochan,Sandra. TheGreat Gatsby and the American Dream.California, CA: Addison-Wesley,
Robert,Rank, Hirschl, Thomas, and Foster, Kirk.Chasing the American Dream: Understanding
WhatShapes Our Fortunes.Burlington:Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2014. Print.
Rosch,Tobias. TheDeconstruction of the American dream in “The Great Gatsby”.Bingley:
PacktPublishing Ltd, 2012. Print.
I.F. Scott Fitzgerald’s TheGreat Gatsby depicts how the blindly pursuit of the American dream dooms the maincharacters to a tragic ending
II.First, the novel shows the pursuitof the American dream can lead a person to failure
III.Second, the pursuit of the desirecannot bring the characters to a satisfactory ending
V.Inconclusion F. Scott Fitzgerald`s The Great Gatsby shows the blindlypursuit of the American dream dooms the main characters to a tragicending