The American dream is such a major theme in The Great Gatsby that whether you are studying it was just reading it for fun you must be wondering what Fitzgerald is trying to say about. Some people argue the book of the criticism of the American dream, some people think Fitzgerald is trying to say the American dream is dead, others think the criticism is solely of Gatsby who paid the price of living too long with a single dream. Let’s have a look at some quotes from the Great Gatsby.
Gaby’s dream is the most prominent of the book. It is all encompassing, it has taken over his life completely. He thought he loved Daisy, but when he finally met her after all these years he found that he still wanted more. He wanted her to say that she never loved another man. He couldn’t be happy with what he had, he has to be perfect. He is an example of people who abuse the American dream.
Character’s like Myrtle and Wilson look up and Daisy and Tom. They want what they have, they think that they have achieved the American Dream. The reader knows different thought, we can see exactly how happy Daisy and Tom are. Behind the façade of perfection they present, their perfect marriage, in their lovely house with their beautiful daughter, they are both bored and unhappy. With no job and no purpose in life they have grown ‘restless.’ Both of them have affairs and neither seems to care about there child. Fitzgerald is trying to say that life isn’t what you imagine at the top.
It is obvious that, at least in the world of the Great Gatsby, money doesn’t buy you happiness. Unfortunately it is just as clear that the lower classes are obsessed with money and view it as their ticket to living the dream. When you only look at their bank balances Gatsby and Tom are both wildly successful and that is all the lower classes see.
The photograph that Gatsby’s father carries around with him becomes the symbol of this obsession of the lower classes. Instead of carrying a picture of his son he carries a a picture of his house, a symbol of his wealth, and what proves he is a success. Just as Gatsby was lured by Dan Cody’s expensive yacht, so the next generation will look at this photo and think that if they work hard enough they can come from nothing like Gatsby and be as happy as him. The sad fact is we know Gatsby was never happy and when he died no one came to his funeral.
What can we draw from this then, does Fitzgerald think the American dream is dead. On the contrary I believe that he thinks it will continue perpetually, the people always look at the rich and wish they could be like them. And so the book is not telling you the American dream is dead is telling you that it will always live on and be wary of its promises.