For decades people have had American Dreams they dedicate their lives, giving it their all for the goals that they have set up for themselves. However, while seeming to be a good motivating factor for Americans, most of the time these dreams are unsuccessful or unattainable for the people that work so hard toward them. Since there is more often failure in achieving an American Dream, many people have negative opinions toward the concept itself.
The best description of this ideology is reflected by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who viewed the American Dream as something not possible and could not be fully achieved no atter what a person does, despite how each dream is different. In order to demonstrate his opinion on the American Dream, he uses plot and conflict to show how character’s actions for their dreams, everyone’s American Dream is different, and risks of trying to follow your dream. There are great lengths an individual will go to in order to fulfill their wildest desires, with the characters in The Great Gatsby being no exception.
Fitzgerald demonstrates this through two particular characters in his novel; Jay Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson. While many people in this era had the dream of becoming ealthy in the growing, booming America through their own hard work, others wished to attain their status through different means. In the case of Myrtle Wilson, her method to attaining wealth and status was to marry into the upper class, with Tom Buchanan being the key to that goal.
By being his mistress and indulging in the pampering she receives from Tom, she must cheat on her husband George in the process, unafraid of hurting him. However, George does eventually learn the truth; “He has discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically ill,” (124). With the issue of having her cheat and hurt George, the plot and conflict tie into Fitzgerald’s opinion on the American Dream by showing the lengths one will go to for their own desires and how a single person’s goal can impact someone else.
Another instance of a character’s actions influencing their American Dream is Gatsby’s intense persistence that you can repeat the past; ” You can’t repeat the past. ‘ “Can’t repeat the past? ‘ he cried incredulously. Why of course you can! .. I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,’ he said, nodding determinedly. ‘She’ll see” (110). With the mindset that it is feasible to repeat the past, Gatsby pushes himself in every way possible in order to achieve the slight chance he will be able to have the life he once did with Daisy, despite the fact that Nick disapproves with his ideology.
Just like Myrtle, Gatsby’s great lengths he went to demonstrate what he is willing to do for his dream further prove Fitzgerald’s message by portraying the irrational actions of a dreamer. Actions play a huge role in every single person’s journey toward the American Dream, but sometimes their dream itself can be the reasons for the things eople do. No one person’s dream is exactly the same, as each individual has their own reasons, experiences and desires that make them work hard for their goals.
Wanting to show how this impacts the idea of an American Dream overall, Fitzgerald uses Gatsby and Daisy’s stark contrast in their dreams to highlight his point. Out of all of the characters in The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby has the most unique dream of all; do whatever it takes to get the love of his life, Daisy. Lying about his past, becoming a persona of someone else, and gaining riches were all part of his plan for the imple dream of love. He sets this dream apart from many in this era and story, by not caring about the wealth he’s earned and the status he has obtained.
However, Tom stands in his way, as Gatsby proclaims “She never loved you, do you hear? he cried. ‘She only loved you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me” (130). The conflict set in this scene both influences the plot and further supports Fitzgerald’s opinion by showing that even something as unique, yet simple, s love (not wealth or status) can drive someone to spend their entire life after one goal.
When looking toward Daisy’s dream, Nick remarks: “She wanted her life shaped now, immediately – and the decision must be made by some force – of love, of unquestionable practicality that was close at hand” (151). In order to achieve her American Dre. married Tom so she can achieve the status she so desired, disregarding the fact that Gatsby was trying to get her to love him through any means necessary. As her goal is based much more on wealth and material objects, Daisy’s greed driven ream clashes with Gatsby’s goals; she wanted stuff, he wanted her love.
Despite this though, the quotation shows that, regardless of all the work a person may put into their dreams, there is always a risk of failure not matter how much you have worked toward a goal. As with all things in life, not everyone can succeed and make all of their dreams come true, no matter how much effort has Daisy went ahead and been expended or time has been spent trying to achieve that goal. Considering failure as a huge part of his ideals on the American Dream, Fitzgerald show’s his opinion through the eyes f Nick as he reflects on everything that has happened.
As stated by Nick, “It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment” (104). With Nick’s comment we can see that once you look upon all you have done toward your dream, seeing the fact that it is a loss is very depressing, since so much has been done for the goal. A prime example of failure of a dream is, after Gatsby’s murder, Nick thinking “I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment, but he was already too far away, and I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn’t sent a message or a flower” (174).
Despite dedicating his everything to getting back his love Daisy, once he dies, she does not even acknowledge his life at his memorial, fully showing the reader of how Gatsby’s American Dream was unsuccessful. By taking a closer look at The Great Gatsby’s plot and conflict, we can see that there is much more involved in the American Dream. In order for a person to achieves their dreams they perform different kinds of actions succeed, with these methods being both wholesome (such as working hard) or more vile (like heating on your husband with a higher class man).
Each person has their own version of the American dream, from wealth to love, but often are set up in a way that they are out of reach and unattainable. Risks follow with pursuing one’s dream, as there is never a guaranteed success and the likelihood of the dream becoming true is very low. All in all, In order to demonstrate Fitzgerald’s opinion on the American Dream he uses plot and conflict to show how character’s actions for their dreams, everyone’s American Dream is different, and risks of trying to follow your dream.