The American Dream in Great Gatsby, Essay Example

Published: 2022-02-21
The American Dream in Great Gatsby, Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American dream The Great Gatsby
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1101 words
10 min read

The American dream

The American dream is a belief that any person without regards of their birthplace, race, gender, or social class can achieve what they term as success in the society with freedoms of opportunities for prosperity and upward mobility in their families that has been achieved through hard work, risk-taking, and sacrifice. The American dream, however, assumes certain issues, for instance, those associated with race, tax evasion, income inequality, or even misogyny (Fitzgerald, 2007). It gives an illusion of class equality, but this is untrue since America has a well-established class hierarchy. It is the definition given by Americans for living a happy life. In the story (the Great Gatsby), the American dream is clearly shown since it was written in the 1920s when a lot of change was noted in America, for example, increased immigration, change in roles of women as well as income inequality. There is decadence of morals due to the accumulation of wealth.

Materialism was greatly seen during these times as people corrupted the American dream because focused on attaining wealth, status, and power. Acquisition of the American dream is not as easy as it appears to be. Gatsby is corrupt because he is said to have acquired his wealth by selling alcohol to achieve his American dream (Fitzgerald, 2007). He came from a humble background in Minnesota and had to pay his way through college by working as a janitor but gave up after a few weeks. He created an identity for himself to fit in with the rich, people he always dreamt of being associated with. He becomes a gangster and lives a life that is empty as he throws many parties to show that people can go to the extent of changing their lives to achieve this American dream

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Dexter Green also faces several obstacles to achieve the American dream. For one to achieve the dream, Americans are willing to do anything no matter what suffering they have been faced with. Dexter was previously engaged to another woman. He, however, broke off the engagement to pursue Judy Jones because she was one of the golden girls. Judy abandoned and hurt him many times, but even if Dexter was experiencing all the suffering induced by Judy, he could not leave due to wealth. Gatsby also endured living in emptiness with the life of the party to win Daisy over considering that she hailed from a different social class. An issue which symbolizes wealth and social standing. That was their decision, and they were not willing to change it.

Time and money are objects that one requires to acquire the American dream. Tom and Daisy proved that happiness is not equal to wealth and time. In the beginning, they appeared to have it all, anything that they ever wanted in life an expensive house, wealth, both were rich, etc. On the other hand, this was not true because underneath all that wealth and having each other; there were dissatisfaction and disguised happiness in their marriage. Tom was not contented in his marriage and started having an affair with a certain woman in New York. The couple had everything that the American dream entails yet they lacked the value associated with the things they owned.

The Great Gatsby shows how people are willing to use others to achieve wealth. This thus corrupts how the American dream is achieved and not using hard work, risk-taking, and sacrifice. Myrtle is a dreamer like Gatsby because she wants to acquire wealth but without putting any real effort. She is the woman who is having an affair with Tom Buchanan who is the husband to Daisy. She desires to climb the social ladder easily by using Tom. Tom, on the other hand, lacks affection for her because he is merely using her following his discontent in his marriage. The demonstration is noted when Tom breaks her nose with his hand (Fitzgerald, 2007).

Cars in the Great Gatsby are used as a symbol of status because relatively rich people owned them. Gatsby's car has rich cream color, bright with nickel coupled with a cartoon nature. The issue illustrates that he did not belong to that social class. About cars, the green light is associated with the American dream. It serves as a symbol of how some people like Gatsby cannot attain the American dream. His hopes and dreams will always be present with him but not within his reach. The American dream should be achievable to anyone who is a risk taker, hardworking and can make sacrifices (Fitzgerald, 2007).

The American Identity

The American dream gives a clear elaboration of how the American identity is with regards to achieving the American dream. There are different identities, and they are as follows;

Users or climbers. This identifies people who do not want to use their efforts and energy to work hard to achieve their dream. Myrtle as the name suggests a climber wanted to climb the social ladder through her affair with Tom.

The identity of people who do not have to work for them to achieve their dream (Fitzgerald, 2007). For instance, Tom and Daisy did not have to work for them to achieve their American dream. They are seen as people with poor time management skills, lack of morals, and lack of value for their achieved dream.

Americans are identified as people who can do anything despite suffering, pain, and hurt to achieve their desired dream. The illustration is seen by Dexter and Gatsby who is aiming at winning the two golden girls namely Daisy and Judy. They suffer, live empty lives, and use illegal means to reach their goal (Fitzgerald, 2007).

Fitzgerald shows readers that the Americans live for achieving the American dream. The illustration is seen through Gatsby because he lives and creates a make believe character for himself to achieve the dream.

In conclusion, the American dream is a belief that anyone despite their race, gender, class or nationality can be prosperous in America if they are hardworking, risk-takers and can make sacrifices. Through the various characters, one can see how the American dream has been corrupted to acquire wealth. The characters behaviors and actions help in unveiling certain identities that are aimed at achieving the dream; It is the actions that justify how the dream is corrupted. Identities of people who are users, those who lack morals, those who do not have to work to achieve the dream and people who are willing to do anything even changing their lives to attain their sole purpose has also been discussed as noted therein.


Fitzgerald, F. S. (2007). The Great Gatsby. Broadview Press.

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