Futility of the American Dream Exposed in The Great Gatsby

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the principle character, Jay Gatsby makes an exhaustive effort in his quest for the American Dream. The novel is Fitzgerald’s vessel of commentary and criticism of the American Dream. “Fitzgerald defines this Dream, he depicts its’ beauty and irresistible lure”(Bewley 113). Through Gatsby’s downfall, Fitzgerald expresses the futility and agony of the pursuit of the dream.

The aspects of the American Dream are evident throughout Fitzgerald’s narrative. Take, for example, James Gatz’s heavenly, almost unbelievable rise from “beating his way along the south shore of Lake Superior as a clam-digger and a salmon-fisher” (Fitzgerald 95) to the great, i.e. excessive, Gatsby, housed in “a colossal affair by any standard. with a tower on one side. a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Fitzgerald 11). The awe in which Fitzgerald presents his awakened phoenix clearly conveys the importance of improvement, or at least what one thinks is improvement, in the American Dream; it is not necessarily a life of excesses and wealth Fitzgerald defends as the Dream, for the audience sees clearly their detriments in the novel through Tom and Daisy, but rather a change in the style of life, reflecting the equally-American pioneering spirit. Nevertheless, wealth does certainly play an important role in the American Dream. With wealth, supposedly, comes comfort, as Nick mentions regarding his home: “I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbour’s lawn, and the consoling pr.


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  3. Possnock, Ross. ” ‘A New World, Material Without Being Real’: Fitzgerald’s Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby.” Critical Essays on Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1984. 201-213.
  4. Internet Tommy Hilfiger Quote. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/american_dream.html#Gpb1Y63HAiZXfwBe.99 “Gatsby’s
  5. American Dream: Reading The Great Gatsby Critically, Chapter 1.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehjTS6AhMJ8 “Thoughts on The Great Gatsby.” Lily In Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.
  7. http://lilyincanada.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/thoughts-on-the-great-gatsby/

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