The Failed Dream “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch It yourself. ” These are the words of the American forefather, Benjamin Franklin. His thoughts reflect the theme that runs through each word, idea and aspect of The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby highlights the flaws of the coveted American dream and how it can never be achieved. Fitzgerald illustrated the different areas of this principle in various characters, such as the Buchanan, George Wilson and, of course, the Infamous Jay Gatsby.
These characters exemplify the empty promises of the “white picket fence” fantasy and the lies that we have been told all through our lives that If we work hard and honest enough, we will receive our reward. The Buchanan, Tom and Daisy, were created by Fitzgerald to show how the rich have their wealth not due to any merit of theirs, as so the American dream claims. Instead, throughout the plot, it is revealed how immoral, selfish, and irresponsible the rich are, all the things that one is told not to do to achieve true happiness, yet they have reaped the benefits of the dream. The
Immorality of the wealthy Is best personified through Tom Buchanan, who not only Is a chronic cheater, but also treats everyone else as Inferior to him. Early In the book, one of the first interactions a reader has with Tom is him talking to his mistress while hosting a dinner party with his wife. What is worse is the next chapter consists of him taking Nick, his wife’s cousin, to meet this mistress. This shows not only his selfishness, but his lack of any conscience. Even when he discovered the infidelity of his own wife, he failed to see his own fault for the exact crime. Daisy Is no better.
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She was eager to have an affair from the first mention of It, when Nick called her to come alone. She didn’t even consider the repercussions until push came to shove and she was forced to choose. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy?they smashed up things… Then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness”(pig 70). This could not better explain this couple. Their only concern was themselves. They gave no regard to anyone but themselves. Daisy, who claimed to love Gatsby, through him under the bus to take the fall for Myrtle’s murder and ran into the arms of Tom.
Both f them conspired to contently their superfluous life at the expense of theirs. They lived a life which breaks every code of morality and do not deserve their wealth, yet they are the ones who are enjoying the wonders of the fulfillment of the American dream. If the Buchanan are Fitzgerald example of people who have unjustifiably benefited from the American economic system, the opposite is George Wilson who has been cheated out of his inheritance. Wilson is the person the dream claims you should be to achieve It, hardworking, kind and moral.
In every scene, except after the death of Myrtle, that George appears In, he Is working. He works his heart out yet all he has to show of it is a failed marriage and an empty bank account. As one edges toward the end of the book and the American dream unravels, George becomes the biggest indicator of this, “He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick…. So sick that he looked guilty, unforgivably guilty. Yet even when he discovers the Infidelity of his George’s morality is the end when he finally seeks revenge. Granted, he murdered Gatsby, but he did this out of great mental torment and depression and even when e did it, he was filled with such regret that he could not live with himself afterwards. All the other characters, save for Nick, live in their sin without any sense of a conscience. If the American Dream is accurate, then George should be the most successful character in this tale, however, he is instead the penniless corpse.
Gatsby is an example of someone who earned his American dream; however, he did not do it in the method that is advertised. Instead, Gatsby not only got his money through illegal means but he was also immoral and selfish. His actions, by definition, go against all that is upheld by the American dream so it should not be possible for Gatsby gain all he has. It is believed that if one works hard and is honest they will get their reward, yet we saw this is not true in George.
On the flip side, Gatsby was able to obtain a fortune, but through illegal means. Not only is this but he not a hugely moral person though a reader might want to believe that. Instead, he is trying to take a married woman as his own, disregarding her husband, no matter how bad, and her daughter. These are not the actions of a ‘good man’. He was never content with what he had, always looking for more, even as a young man. He did not even care for his family as they were not wealthy and therefore not up to his standards.
Gatsby instead did anything achieve success in the exact opposite way in the way one is told they can achieve it. The Great Gatsby seems like the tragic of failed love on the surface, however, it is really the poetic analysis of the tragedy of the American economic structure. One is told to work hard and be good and they will achieve success. Yet Fitzgerald magnified how this is a gross miscarriage of the truth. Instead, the people who have achieved success were handed it on a silver platter, like the Buchanan, or got it through immoral means, like Gatsby.
He also shows how people who truly do believe in the dream try and try again but are cheated and never receive their reward, like George. The American dream is the universal aspiration of everyone on the planet. It is the almost religious belief instilled into the hearts of each person, influenced western society, from a young age. Yet only the select few who are already at the top stay there, looking down at the rest of us as the gap widens; and leaving us to run the pursuit of happiness only to receive the only thing that is guaranteed, death and taxes.
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