Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gatsby and the Dream

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The Great Gatsby The Dream

Jay Gatsby, the central character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby symbolizes the American

dream. The American dream offers faith in the possibility of a better life. Its attendant illusion is the

belief that material wealth alone can bring that dream to fruition. Through Gatsby, Fitzgerald brings

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together both these ideas. Jay Gatsby thinks money is the answer to anything he encounters. He has the

best of everything. The fanciest car, the largest house, and the finest clothes. Jay has everything except

the object he most desires, Daisy. Gatsby believes he can win Daisy over with wealth, that he could

achieve the ideal she stood for through his material possessions.

One look at Gatsby’s past and it could be seen that he was destined to get ahead in life. Mr. Gatz

told Nick, “Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do

you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that. He told me I et like a

hog once and I beat him for it” (18). Gatsby’s determination to gain a large bankroll is a huge part of

the American dream. He believes that once he achieved his financial goal it would lead to a better life.

In America the car is one of the greatest status symbols. Gatsby’s gorgeous machine is one of the

most majestic cars created. Nick’s comments on the vehicle describe its luster, “...and there in its

monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes...Sitting down behind

many layers of glass in a sort of leather conservatory we started towards town” (68). The use of the

symbolic automobile can be seen as a demonstration of how an ideal based on materialism alone can be

destructive. This was the fatal car which kills Myrtle Wilson and indirectly leads to Gatsby’s death.

Appearance is another important factor toward Gatsby’s dream. In his quest to win Daisy’s heart

Gatsby chooses to wear his best outfit. “...the front door opened nervously and Gatsby in a white

flannel suit, silver shirt and gold colored tie hurried in” (8). Silver and gold are the colors of wealth,

Gatsby’s sartorial splendor is as lavish as any of the other items he owns. Gatsby’s shirts are more

then just garments towards Gatsby. They are some of the many fascinating objects he possesses that

were created by money. These shirts contribute towards Gatsby’s vision of the American dream, that

his money and belongings will create happiness for him.

Another major object of Gatsby’s dream was his incredible house. Jay states to Nick and Daisy,

“My house looks well, doesn’t it? See how the whole front of it catches the light” (5). Jay gave Nick

and Daisy the grand tour of his house showing of all of his worldly possessions. Room after room,

everything was shown and mentioned. At the sight of his piles and piles of shirts Daisy broke down.

“They’re such beautiful shirts, it makes me sad because I’ve never seen such--such beautiful shirts

before” (8). Jay Gatsby’s ideals were parallel to the typical American dream. He wants to claim his

objective by the use of his assets. He thinks that his money will give him happiness in life through love

and his personal belongings.

Even the richest man in the world can’t have everything. Material wealth could provide many things

for Jay Gatsby but not the thing he most desired. Although his wealth drew Daisy closer to him, he

never truly could have possessed her heart. He demanded Daisy to state that she had never loved Tom

Buchanan. “Oh, you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby, “I love you now--isn’t that enough? I can’t

help what’s past. I did love him once--but I loved you too.” (1-140). Jay’s true love still remained

with her uncaring husband, Tom. Jay Gatsby’s dream was smashed when he found out that even all of

his assets weren’t enough to woo Daisy to him.

Jay Gatsby’s belief in the American dream keep him from realizing reality. He believes that if he

worked hard enough and made enough money that he could have anything. He wants to perceive the

world as a place where sufficient wealth would enable him to recapture and recreate the past he desired

with Daisy. Gatsby began planning for his dream when he was young. This can be seen from his journal

he wrote as a young man which was discovered by Mr. Gatz. His attempt to accomplish his dream with

cars and shirts could not have been successful. The American dream cannot be accomplished, money is

just one factor towards happiness in this world.

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