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The American Dream in the Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

Updated on September 18, 2019



Chasing the American Dream

How many people die without realizing the American dream? Is it just an illusion? The truth is every year thousands of people flock the United States of America from every corner of the world in pursuit of the elusive American dream.According to Pearsons the American dream is the belief that while in America anyone may prosper when they pursue whatever goals they desire; monetary or socially (1). They all seem to have one goal in mind; to write a story of rising from nothing to a life of wealth and stability in every aspect of their lives. Many are those who end up living from hand to mouth in order to make ends meet. Some end up going back to the places they came from while others result in crime. In his book, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald proves that the American dream is not only hard to attain but it is also faux.

The working class of New York is struggling to survive. Nick sets off from New Haven to New York for greener pastures in the bond business. A friend at the firm suggests they should cohabit in a commuting town probably so that they could save on rent (Fitzgerald 5).Nick is however very optimistic that the bond business will soar. When Tom tries to condescend Nick by saying he has not heard of his firm, Nick tells him that he will if he stays in the East (Fitzgerald 13).Myrtle and Wilson are also a perfect example of the struggling working class. Catherine reveals the couple has been living in their garage for 11 years (Fitzgerald 39).Perhaps, it is these unpleasant living conditions that push Myrtle to cheat on Wilson with Tom to get a little taste of the American dream. This illicit relationship, unfortunately, leads to Myrtle's untimely death. All these prove that it is hard to achieve the American dream and people go to great lengths to reach it. Some are however luckier than others.

The American dream isn`t what it seems. Gatsby is having a time of his life at his mansion throwing a grand party every other night. Although he seems to have it all, his source of income remains a mystery. It is purported that he amassed his wealth from bootlegging (Fitzgerald 66).Even so, surrounded by all these material wealth, his heart yearns for something more, Daisy’s love. The two had been separated when Gatsby went to world war one and he comes back to the west egg in order to win her back. It is surprising to see that even though Gatsby has money and power, he is still missing something in his life and suffers dejection from daisy.

The Buchanans who are seemingly having a time of their lives living the American dream are bored and their life is in chaos. Nick, who at that time was struggling to get started in the bond business, finds out of the Buchanans woes the first day he visits them after. Jordan Baker tells Nick of how Tom has been cheating on his wife with a girl in new york (Fitzgerald 18).Daisy narrates to Tom of how she cried when the nurse told her that she delivered a daughter and added how she wished she would become a beautiful little fool (Fitzgerald 20).One would expect that a woman like her who is married to a rich man like Tom Buchanan to be living a stress-free life.

` Fitzgerald lets readers into the real lives of diverse people, some who are rich, owing to inheritance others who are in pursuit of an elusive American dream. The poor are unhappy because they are intimidated by the lifestyles of the rich who seemingly have it all, while they do not realize that the rich have their own problems owing to these lifestyles. The end of the novel suggests that this cycle of chasing the elusive dream is not likely to stop any time soon.

Works Cited

Pearson, Roger L. “Gatsby: False Prophet of the American Dream.” The English Journal, vol. 59, no. 5, 1970, pp. 638–645. JSTOR,

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald. , 1925. Internet resource.


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    • Martin Karl profile imageAUTHOR

      Martin Karl 

      7 weeks ago from The Middle Of No Where

      Thanks Ramiroj

    • ramiroj profile image

      Ramiro Jabonillo 

      7 weeks ago from Doha,Qatar

      nice works


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