The American dream is an ideal that has been present since American literature’s onset. Typically, the dreamer aspires to rise from rags to riches, while accumulating such things as love, high status, wealth, and power on his way to the top. The dream has had variations throughout different time periods, although it is generally based on ideas of freedom, self-reliance, and a desire for something greater. The early settlers’ dream of traveling out West to find land and start a family has gradually transformed into a materialistic Sino of having a big house, a nice car, and a life of ease.
In the past century, the American dream has increasingly focused on material items as an indication of attaining success. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is a self-made man who started out with no money?only a plan for achieving his dream. He is so blinded by his luxurious possessions that he does not see that money cannot buy love or happiness. Fitzgerald demonstrates how a dream can become corrupted by one’s focus on acquiring wealth, power, and expensive things. Gatsby is a “nouveau richer,” and his romantic view of wealth has not repaper him for the sell#interested, snobbish, corrupt group of people with which he comes to associate.
He throws lavish parties for countless people, yet he has no real friends. Gatsby buys expensive things and entertains large groups of society because of his incommunicdesire for something greater. Nick Caraway realizes that although Gatsby is involved in underhanded business dealings and is fixated on money, he is a good man at heart. The last time Nick sees Gatsby alive, he tells him, “They’re a rotten crowd…. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together (Fitzgerald 162). Gatsby romantic view of life may partly be to blame for his inability to achieve his dream.
Although he has made his fortune through racketeering and conducting suspicious business deals, his heart seems untouched by the moral evil that is around him. Gatsby has lived not for himself, but for his dream, for his vision of the good life inspired by the beauty of a lovely rich girl. Gatsby inspiration comes from the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, whom he knew when he was in the military. Daisy parents considered Gatsby to be an unsui match, because he did not come from a good background and had title money. Nick Caraway, the narrator, sees Daisy as the golden girl?the quintessential rich beauty.
Daisy is the symbol of all that Gatsby strives for; her voice is full of money, as Gatsby describes it. Her voice was “full of money?that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song in I? ‘ (Fitzgerald 127). She can be interpreted as a twentieth-century siren because she ensnares men with her husky, mysterious voice. Gatsby became so enamored by her voice that he based all of his actions on winning Daisy over. Her voice contains the promise of vast riches. However, Gatsby is too late to realize that money is the only thing her voice promises.
There is no compassion in Daisy, just as there is none in cold, hard cash. Gatsby idealism is so great that even though Daisy is married and they are having an affair, he assumes that his vision will be realized as long as she will say that she has never loved her husband, Tom. Not content merely to repeat the past, Gatsby must also eradicate the years in which his dream lost its reality. Daisy has been the object of Gatsby obsession for the past vive years, and his romanticism will not allow him to separate the past from the present.
He still sees Daisy as the golden girl he knew five years ago, and he is still set on their golden future together. Gatsby lapse in judgment is in not realizing that Daisy represents both material success and the corruption that wealth can bring. Although she appears to be full of sweetness and light, she is at heart self-centered and cold. Daisy is careless with people’s lives; she lets Gatsby take the blame for her unintentional manslaughter of Myrtle Wilson. Her careless actions eventually result in Gatsby death, Of which she shows no concern.
She commits adultery, but she had no real intentions of leaving her husband. After she learns of Gatsby shady background, she quickly runs back into the arms of her equally self-absorbed, corrupt husband. On the surface, Fitzgerald novel may appear to be just a shallow novel about the jazz, parties, and glitz that he experienced in the early twentieth century. After closer examination, however, it is apparent that The Great Gatsby is a profound social commentary on the corrupt and guillotining effects that materialism can have on members of society.
The have-onto yearn to be like the haves, yet those who already have wealth and Status are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives. On the whole, the elitist group in the novel displays characteristics of being bored, disenchanted, and unmotivated. For example, the Buchannan drift from one place to the next, with no real plan or goal in mind. Jordan Baker has a constant bored, unaffected look upon her face. These people are the “haves,” but Fitzgerald makes the reader question whether what they possess is really worth having.
Gatsby has devoted his life to belonging to this exclusive group, but it becomes obvious that he never will belong because of his disrepu background. It should also be noted that Gatsby romantic idealism does not fit in with this group; no matter how far up the social ladder he climbed, he would never really fit in. The great irony seems to be that the people who have the means, monetary or socially, to grasp their dreams do not have the motivation or the will. The drifting, careless, shallow people who comprise the social group Of East Egg and West Egg are representative Of the corruption hat materialism can bring.
Gatsby is surrounded by this materialism and discontent, which serves to tarnish his dream of success. His rags-to- riches dream turns into a dark nightmare that leads to his untimely downfall. His romantic idealism has not prepared him for the corrupt world in which he enters. Gatsby is surrounded by proof of the unhappiness that “success” can bring. Gatsby is so blinded by his dream the he fails to see that money cannot buy love or happiness. Fitzgerald effectively offers a powerful critique of a materialistic society and the effects it can have on one’s hopes and dreams.