The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its illusionary goals. The attempt to capture the American Dream is central to many novels. This dream is different for different people, but in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is that through wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness Jay must reach into the past and relive an old dream and in order to do this he must have wealth and power. Jay Gatsby, the central figure of the the story, is one character who longs for the past.
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Surprisingly he devotes most of his adult life trying to recapture it and, finally, dies in its pursuit. In the past, Jay had a love affair with the affluent Daisy. Knowing he could not marry her because of the difference in their social status, he leaves her to amass wealth to reach her economic standards. Once he acquires this wealth, he moves near to Daisy, “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay (83),” and throws extravagant parties, hoping by chance she might show up at one of them. He, himself, does not attend his parties but watches them from a distance.
When this dream doesn’t happen, he asks around casually if anyone knows her. Soon he meets Nick Carraway, a cousin of Daisy, who agrees to set up a meeting, “He wants to know… if you’ll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over (83). ” Gatsby’s personal dream symbolizes the larger American Dream where all have the opportunity to get what they want. Later, as we see in the Plaza Hotel, Jay still believes that Daisy loves him. He is convinced of this as is shown when he takes the blame for Myrtle’s death. “Was Daisy driving? “Yes… but of course I’ll say I was. (151) He also watches and protects Daisy as she returns home. “How long are you going to wait? ” “All night if necessary. ” (152)
Jay cannot accept that the past is gone and done with. Jay is sure that he can capture his dream with wealth and influence. He believes that he acted for a good beyond his personal interest and that should guarantee success. Nick attempts to show Jay the folly of his dream, but Jay innocently replies to Nick’s assertion that the past cannot be relived by saying, “Yes you can, old sport. This shows the confidence that Jay has in fulfilling his American Dream.
For Jay, his American Dream is not material possessions, although it may seem that way. He only comes into riches so that he can fulfill his true American Dream, Daisy. Gatsby doesn’t rest until his American Dream is finally fulfilled. However, it never comes about and he ends up paying the ultimate price for it. The idea of the American Dream still holds true in today’s time, be it wealth, love, or fame. But one thing never changes about the American Dream everyone desires something in life and everyone somehow strives to get it.
Gatsby is a prime example of pursuing the American Dream. 2 The cquisition of material has often been equated with happiness in this country. This is true today, and it was true during the 1920’s, the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Fiztgerald shows how Jay Gatsby is a man that believes if he has money, he can attain love and happiness. Jay Gatsby believes that money can recreate the past, can buy him happiness, and can help him achieve prestige in the town of East Egg.
The belief by the majority of Americans that wealth and happiness are the same is a result of an economy that encourages consumption and social conditions that lead us to think that we need aterial possessions to be happy. Money can have many effects on people and society but money cannot buy happiness. The 1920’s were an age of a consumer boom that was needed to keep up with the new materials and goods that came from production lines after World War I. The same beliefs and standards still exist today. Materialistic attitudes are a result of the free-market economy in this country.
Consumers are led to believe they need to have all the things that businesses are trying to sell and it is this desire for material possessions that drives our economy. While this type of economy has given us great pportunities to further our own personal wealth, it has also put many people on the path to making ours a selfish and unhappy society that is never content with it already has. The market society of our country feeds on economic growth, but excess consumption does not really satisfy people in the end.
It only leaves you wanting more and once you are caught up in the obsession of materialism it seems like you can never have enough. The 1920’s were also an era of blatant materialism and consumption and the pursuit for private wealth took priority over what was good for society in general. The Depression that followed the 920s was an agonizing economic time for the American people but it had the positive effect of forcing people to reexamine their focus on material possessions and personal wealth to what was good for the country as a whole.
Jay Gatsbys idea of the American Dream and his error of thinking that money can buy his happiness (and Daisy) represent the deficiencies present in todays society that many Americans believe it is material wealth and stature that create their happiness, while not always caring about the less fortunate people around them. Jay Gatsby had everything a wealthy man can afford: a huge mansion, ancy clothes, and expensive cars. His lavish parties were designed to impress Daisy. But why did Gatsby feel he needed to show off his material wealth to win Daisy’s love?
It is believed that people seek material possessions and fulfillment for what they lack in other areas of their lives, like human relationships. Having a lot of material possessions is not what makes human beings happy. The characters of The Great Gatsby, like many in America today, were preoccupied with the pursuit of private wealth. Jay Gatsby flaunted his material possessions in order to impress Daisy, but even though he was ncredibly wealthy, he was probably very unhappy.
Even if he had lived and won Daisy back, together they would have only found true fulfillment if they would have realized the need to switch from a philosophy of selfishness to a philosophy of caring. No amount of material possessions would have made either of them truly happy. The definition of materialism is “a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things”. While Jay Gatsby and many Americans believe that material wealth and possessions are the way to buy their happiness, it is our hopes and dreams and having personal goals nd standards that give life its purpose and meaning.
The corruption of the American Dream by materialism is almost inevitable because reality rarely turns out same as our dreams perceive it to be. The Great Gatsby is a story that captures the glitz and glamour of the 1920s, but it is also the portrayal of a young man and his disastrous search for happiness through materialism. Gatsbys dreams of happiness and love are corrupted by the emptiness of a dream based on wealth and possessions. Money may be able to buy you many material possessions but money cannot buy happiness and love.