The attempt to capture the American dream is a theme in many novels, and that is no exception when it comes to The Great Gatsby and Ethan Frome. Jay Gatsby, the central figure in The Great Gatsby, had the American dream that he could acquire happiness through wealth and power. Ethan Frome, the main character in the Edith Wharton novel Ethan Frome, is a man who wants to acquire happiness through his marriage with Zeena. Ethan Frome and Jay Gatsby both had fates that would come true later in the novel. These two novels are very similar in many ways.
One similarity in the novels is that both men, Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome, lived in world of silence. Jay once had a love affair with a lady named Daisy. He understood that he could not marry her because of the difference in their social status. Jay moves away from her to acquire wealth, then later buys a house just across the bay from Daisy. Jay throws big parties and hopes she will come to them. But Jay does not attend them himself, watching the parties from a distance in his own world of silence.
In Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome is a man who lives in Starkfield, Massachusetts. In this novel, winter symbolizes loneliness and bitterness which is what Ethan Frome’s life is a symbol of. Frome’s mother died n winter, so Ethan married Zeena because he was afraid of being alone. Zeena only brought Ethan bitterness and loneliness. Ethan Frome does not look forward to spending any time with Zeena. Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome both duplicate their problems in these two novels.
Jay Gatsby duplicates his problem by meeting Daisy again. Gatsby asks people if they know Daisy and finds her cousin. Her cousin sets up a meeting with the two and they start seeing each other again. This just leads Gatsby to his fate of being with Daisy again and being killed. Gatsby shows his true love for Daisy when the two are in a car accident. She is driving the car when they wreck and he takes the blame for the accident. Later, Jay was eventually shot while lounging in his pool, which was his fate.
Ethan and Mattie plan on being together and preserving their happiness by attempting suicide. That duplicated his problem with Zeena, but Ethan pictures Mattie as the warm sunshine unlike Zeena, who he pictured as the bitter winter. In order to achieve happiness, Ethan must either be with Mattie or create an image in his mind of being with Mattie. Ethan needs to leave Starkfield and escape the loneliness of winter and find warmth and love. In these two novels, the two main characters want to acquire happiness, which is their American dream.
Their tragic lives are overshadowed by gloom and hopelessness. Both Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome lived a tragic life and lived in a world of silence. Both men duplicate their problems by starting lives with Daisy and Mattie. Both men have fates, Gatsby’s was to die and to be with Daisy, and Frome’s was to be with Mattie. Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome both live out their American Dream. Everybody has a dream no matter what it is, and everybody strives to fulfill it and that is what Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome did in these two novels.