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Gatsby’s Illusion of the American Dream Essay

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The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays a society of high social standings, immense wealth, and love. This can be classified as the American Dream. If an individual is determined, that individual has a reasonable chance and holds the hope for acquiring wealth, and the happiness and freedoms that go with it. In essence, the American Dream gives the chance to gain personal fulfillment, materially and spiritually. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the American Dream as an unachievable illusion, one which is ultimately detrimental to the novel’s central character, Jay Gatsby.

Jay Gatsby tries to attain happiness, Daisy’s love, which is all he wants, but ends up failing. Evidently, Gatsby may have achieved the definition of the American Dream, but at a personal standpoint, he failed to accomplish what he was truly aiming for. Jay Gatsby grew up with little money in his young life, until he met Dan Cody, a man who became very wealthy in precious metals. Dan Cody took in Gatsby to be his assistant on his boat, and lived with him for five years. Gatsby wanted to achieve wealth since that, which he did. Gatsby first fueled his love for Daisy when they met in 1917.

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Since that, Daisy, and Gatsby’s proximity to Daisy has been an illusion. Nick mentions this when he compares Daisy and Gatsby to the distance of a star to the moon (121-122). Gatsby becomes a very wealthy man, who throws parties at his extravagant mansion, in hopes of Daisy attending, which never happens. Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan, but Gatsby still believes that she loves him. “It was a strange coincidence,” I said. “But it wasn’t a coincidence at all. ” “Why not? ” “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay. ” (137).

That quote is a prime example of how in love Gatsby really is with Daisy, purposely buying a house across the bay from her. As it is noted early on in the book, Gatsby’s house is across the bay from Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s house, where there is a green light at the end of their dock. Nick sees Gatsby staring and reaching his arms out to this green light when he first sees him. The green light symbolizes the illusionary symbol for Gatsby’s love for Daisy. Gatsby’s love for Daisy is there, but he cannot reach it. “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay… You lways have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock. ” (94). In hindsight, Gatsby obtained some of the elements of his American Dream, wealth and material items, although missing the element of Daisy Many of the characters in The Great Gatsby have achieved the American Dream. Tom and Daisy Buchanan are wealthy East Eggers having vast riches.

This is true, however for Gatsby, the entire American Dream is unachievable. In the end of the novel, Fitzgerald observes through Nick that in society, people strive to reach the American Dream, but are unable to achieve it. 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 – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… ” (180) After Dan Cody’s death, and meeting Daisy, Gatsby wanted to prove to Daisy that he is worthy of her through financial success. Although Gatsby proves himself worthy to Daisy through financial success, he is unsuccessful in his procurement of Daisy. As Daisy reveals she loves Tom rather than Gatsby, Gatsby’s dream becomes fractured by reality (105).

After Gatsby learns this, and after Tom finds out Gatsby and Daisy had a small love affair, Gatsby waits outside of the Buchannan’s house. He does this to protect Daisy, as he thinks Tom might harm her. Gatsby is trying to attain one last chance to win Daisy over, which does not happen. Nick knows that Gatsby’s dream is over, and will never happen. Nick left Gatsby standing outside Daisy’s house in the early morning. “So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight – watching over nothing”(146).

Earlier in the book, Gatsby was seen holding his arms out to Daisy’s green light. Now he is even closer, standing outside her house, but his goal and dream of Daisy is now gone. The American Dream is unachievable for Gatsby and becomes detrimental to him in the end. The American Dream ultimately kills Gatsby. Since Gatsby covered for Daisy when she killed Myrtle, Myrtle’s husband sought out to kill Gatsby, and ended up shooting him in his pool, and shooting himself after. Because of Gatsby’s love for Daisy, it ended up getting him and other people killed. Now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail” (149) Daisy was Gatsby’s impossible grail. Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of the American Dream is corrupt, as he earns his money from a shady bootlegging career, an illegal and risky business. Gatsby’s American Dream is also corruptive in the sense that he doesn’t have many real friends. When he throws parties he does not mingle with the people, he stays inside. Gatsby also does not have much regard for his material items; his only real goal is Daisy.

He even decides to fire all of his servants and replace them with his shady co-workers. “The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, 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. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end” (99).

Gatsby’s real name is James Gatz, but he changed it to Jay Gatsby when he was younger. This created a different persona of James Gatz, and incorporated his dream of Daisy into his reality. Changing the way Gatsby existed, was the most destructive thing he has done. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzerald depicts the American Dream as an unachievable illusion, and ultimately detrimental to Gatsby in the end. Gatsby’s dream of Daisy never happens, though he has been longing for her since he first met her. The idea of the green light on Daisy’s dock represents the illusion of Daisy in Gatsby’s mind.

Gatsby comes close to winning Daisy, but she sides with her husband Tom, with Gatsby losing her forever. Gatsby’s American dream is destructive, and corruptive. He lies, made his wealth from shady dealings, and dies because of his infatuation with Daisy. Gatsby’s obsession of a woman who doesn’t love him back, is the whole idea of his incomplete American dream. “A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: ‘There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired. ’” (81)

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