“American Dream” Theme in Great Gatsby

Great Expectations Generations vs. Great Gatsby

‘The Great Gatsby’ includes the theme of ‘the American Dream’. Written by Scott Fitzgerald, the novel encompasses a pessimistic view of the theme. This phenomenon can be analyzed in several aspects to expose how well the novel performs in representing the American Dream. An analysis of the ‘The Great Gatsby’ explains its coverage of the American Dream in terms of its historic period, American identities, choices of the author, and the implied audience.

The novel can be analyzed according to the various aspects of history. Among them is how well it embodies its historic time. Written in 1925, the novel majors on the conditions of the 1920s. The period was characterized by vices that made it hard for some groups of people to make significant progress in improving their economic welfare and general life in the US (Fitzgerald 237). The country’s systems were marred by racism, xenophobia, and income inequality, and tax evasion amongst others. It is for this reason that the novel is largely pessimistic about the American dream. In the end, it shows that not all people who treasured the dream attained it, owing to the numerous vices that derailed their path to success.

This perspective of history significantly impacts people’s view of the historic era. Although fictitious, the novel reflects the conditions of the 1920s. It suggests that the American dream was only achievable for the privileged communities, but a mirage to their unlucky counterparts. This view changes readers’ belief that America has always been a place of achievement. Instead, it introduces them to a new perspective that they should consider taking into consideration when analyzing the historic period. It also posits that the historic era was a period of economic prosperity, although the improvement was unevenly distributed.

The novel may also be analyzed in the aspect of the images of the American identity that it constructs. It shows the inequality of the various identities included in the same. In the aspect of gender identity, it presents its female characters as unambitious. Daisy, for example, chose to remain in her unhappy relationship with Tom as opposed to chasing the American Dream (Fitzgerald 60). For this reason, she ends up unhappy and in the same position into which she was born. On the contrary, the novel depicts men as people who are ambitious and ready to work. They are depicted as people who are willing to chase the American Dream at all costs.

A different depiction characterizes races and social classes. The novel depicts people of different races focusing their efforts towards achieving their definitions of the American Dream. The common perspective amongst immigrants and natives was that they defined the American Dream in terms of getting wealthy. It meant that they were all willing to make the necessary sacrifices needed to achieve better economic status regardless of their racial identities. The only difference was the effect that the orientation of the system had on their ability to achieve the dream. Similarly, people in different social classes chased the dream by seeking ways of doing better or retaining their positions within the system, according to their statuses at that time.

The various choices made by the artist also depict the American Dream. One of the main choices was to depict the American Dream in a more negative than positive perspective. The author is keen to depict America as a place of achievement, but which is marred by inequalities. He chooses characters who are different in identities to which the American system was sensitive. This choice was likely influenced by the need to expose the American Dream as it was at the time of publication. The author may have been fascinated by the American Dream, but simultaneously irritated by the inequality in American society.

The author could have spun the novel differently. One of the ways that he could have done it was by exploring both the positive and negative aspects of the American Dream in equal measure. Being biased towards the pessimistic side of the same suggests more hatred than neutrality. The novel would have included ways in which the underprivileged groups within society would have overcome the hurdles presented by the system. By so doing, the novel would have shown the possibility of achieving the American Dream if more effort or smarter techniques were applied.

The book targets different audiences. The fact that the book is one of the bestselling pieces of literature is proof that it encompassed different sets of audiences. It has received positive reviews from people in different cultures and social settings around the globe. Its popularity and positive response suggest that its implied audiences were many. People looking to immigrate into America in pursuit of the dream, for example, may have been part of the target audience. Similarly, the privileged persons in American society may have also been target audiences of the same.

The American Dream is well covered in various aspects of ‘The Great Gatsby’. The book covers the historic era of the 1920s since it was written in 1925. It depicts the inequality in the achievement of the dream, owing to racism and other vices that affected the American systems that mattered in people’s ability to prosper. It also suggests the differences that occurred owing to the differences in identities. The popular novel received favor from many people around the world, which shows that its implied audience were diverse groups of people from around the world.

Fitzgerald’s film, “The Great Gatsby”, explores in depth several elements of the American Dream theme and what it means to an individual within the context of society. More specifically, the film, through the life of Gatsby- the main character, offers several lessons to the viewer about the reality of the American dream. The creator uses a complex plot that narrates the story of a man’s journey from rags to riches in pursuit of the American Dream. For Gatsby, it takes sacrifice, reinvention of himself and criminal ventures to achieve the American Dream. Yet, at the end of it all, he does can’t seem to find happiness and his life is devoid of fulfillment that his heart so much craves. The film reveals that the American Dream is an illusion that demands so much sacrifice yet gives so little.

Gatsby, as a young man craves to live the American Dream of wealth and status but discovers, subconsciously, along the way it is an illusion. At first, the smiles of the rich American folks attending dinner parties in Europe when he was a young lieutenant in the Army fools him. In his mind, he strongly believes they are happy and contented. However, he quickly realizes that all the plastic smiles of the wealthy are just part of a cultural formality for acceptance in society (Bloom 98). Behind those smiles, the wealthy and rich are just as lonely and unhappy as other ordinary citizens. He sacrifices his moral code in pursuit of an illusion that only brings darkness and loneliness to his life. Thus, as Fitzgerald depicts through Gatsby, the American Dream is merely a deception of the mind that does bring any actual happiness, only remorse and loneliness.

The only form of happiness that one derives from achieving the American dream is through consumerism and indulgence. When Gatsby host the lavish parties at his house, he looks around and wonders if drugs and alcohol is the only form of happiness that the American Dream bring to a person. His bootlegger enterprise thrives so quickly because the rich, or rather those living the American Dream, only find happiness through drinking and partying (Fitzgerald 67). It is almost as if they are living in denial of themselves. The addiction of consumerism, the fake mannerisms and over indulgence in drugs is the form of happiness that the America Dream brings to his life. Until, he finds love which he can’t buy.

The film, towards the end, when Gatsby’s life began to crumble captures the desperation to find happiness, despite having wealth and status, that individuals living the American dream face. He can longer ignore the void in his life and as he starts to find meaning in life, it is seemingly too late for him. He has to host big parties to enjoy the company of the only woman who brings happiness and a sense of peace to this life. Fitzgerald uses the life Gatsby to deconstruct the deceptive beliefs of the American dream through using irony.

To conclude, Fitzgerald’s film, “The Great Gatsby” is tale that shifts the attention of the view from the illusion of the American Dream, to the reality of true happiness. He shows that true happiness is not gained by achieving the American Dream but rather finding meaning in one’s life through the small things that matter such as love and family. Gatsby, at the end of it all is left alone, destitute and desperate until he finally decides death is the only way out.

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