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Corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby.

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Introduction

Corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald embodies may themes, however the most salient one relates to the corruption of the American Dream. The American Dream is that each person no matter who he or she is can become successful in life by his or her own hard work. The dream also embodies the idea of a self-sufficient man, an entrepreneur making it successful for himself. The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American dream in the 1920s, a time period when the dream had been corrupted by the avaricious pursuit of wealth. The American dream is sublime motivation for accomplishing ones goals and producing achievements, however when tainted with wealth the dream becomes devoid and hollow. When the American dream was pure, motivation and ambition were some key aspects of the pure American dream. "He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way...and distinguished nothing except a single green light"(page.26). It shows how Gatsby was striving for the his goal and trying to accomplish it. When the dream was pure, motivation and self-discipline were present. This quote talks about Gatsby's daily agenda and how in the earlier days he upheld the pure American Dream "No wasting time at Shafters, No more smoking or chewing, Read one improving book or magazine per week, Save $3.00 per week, Be better to parents" (page 181- 182). Nick says "I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes-a fresh green breast of the new world"(page 189). This quote shows the pristine goals of where the possibilities were endless and one could accomplish anything through hard work. The American dream became corrupted, its main aims were wealth and power. Gatsby became corrupted because his main goal was to have Daisy. The only reason he want Daisy was that she symbolized wealth and took on the characteristics of money. ...read more.

Middle

That's all. And their feelings are rather negative and injurious. Not even Tom shows respect for him. In Tom's eyes, Gatsby is his social inferior. He was born rich and always belongs to the rich and the highly reputable. Gatsby, however, has just happened to be rich and is always below him in the social hierarchy. He is incredulous and contemptuous of Gatsby's educational attainment. When somebody tells him that Gatsby was an Oxford man, he is outright disdainful and opprobrious of Gatsby, insofar as he makes such abusive remarks: "An Oxford man! Like hell he is!" (P.116). "Oxford, New Mexico, or something like that." (P.116). Later, when he suffers unfavorably in the wrangle with Gatsby over Daisy's affection, he discloses from where Gatsby attains his state of wealth, rather despicably: "Who are you, anyhow? You're one of that bunch that hangs around with Meyer Wolfshiem... I found out what your 'drug-stores' were. He and this Wolfshiem bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That's one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn't far wrong." (P.127). Indeed, Gatsby makes a fortune in illegal dealings with Meyer Wolfshiem, to which we will come back later in the essay. These sorts of social discrimination and divisions among classes, which are contradictory to the principles of the American Dream, really abound in American society at that time. And this accounts to the failure of the American Dream at large. A second culprit to the failure of the American Dream is the moral decadence of people in general. In essence, spiritual improvements are concomitant with material improvements. They are mutually complementary. However, with the material part too easily achieved (perhaps thanks to the emergence of a new concept called 'easy money' - the selling of bonds, insurance, automobiles, etc.), people begin to lose their spiritual purpose as material achievements blindfold people's spiritual aspirations. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a result of superficial family relationships, all love for that matter becomes based on social status. Myrtle's love for Tom is ultimately doomed to failure due to her standing in a lower social class than Tom. This large social gap appears when Tom "had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world" (Fitzgerald 130). The couple is never meant to be. Gatsby had experienced this exact situation with Daisy when he was in the army. His love for Daisy was impossible in society because "he was at present a penniless young man without a past...he had no comfortable family standing behind him" (Fitzgerald 156). Gatsby encounters his dream of love at this point of his life. He knows that at present time a relationship of love is impossible with Daisy due to his low social standing. Gatsby becomes determined to breach that gap between them in order to have a loving relationship with Daisy. This dream is the representation of the American Dream. He does reach the physical circumstances necessary to love her, but he has focused too much on money and power the previous five years of his life. He wants his love with Daisy to flourish while occupying the rest of both their lives. Unfortunately, he has lost the ability to love. He no longer possesses moral integrity or the ability to handle a relationship. In resignation of his dream he can simply hope to prove that Daisy "never loved [Tom]" (Fitzgerald 116). Gatsby leaves his mark proving that true love is bound to fail amongst extreme wealth. Gatsby possesses an extreme imbalance between the material and spiritual sides of himself. His ultimate goal of love swaps places with his secondary goal of becoming rich. He portrays the ultimate failure of the American Dream in that individuals tend to believe wealth is everything. Historically, America was the New World of endless opportunity and wealth. But a nation cannot operate solely on materialism. The spirits of individuals are the true composition of a nation. ...read more.

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