The American dream is an ideology which characterized America at the start of the twentieth century. It was the idea that everybody should reach success without regarding their social status. The dream was based on America’s declaration of independence which said that “all men are created equal”. This means that everybody should have the possibility to get rich and people should earn thanks to their ability to do things and not because of their name.
Social status is one of the most important topics in “the Great Gatsby”.
It is shown firstly by the different places in which the characters live(East egg-West egg-valley of ashes), by the money they throw around and to what extent they can pass over the law. As it is also said in the book, one’s richness can be understood by the things you talk about. The book is the example of how people worship materialism.
It shows that money has no values, the huge gap between rich and poor and that in a society like the one of the early years of the twentieth century people could become rich only by breaking the law… It can therefore be said that the failure of the American dream consists in the fact that money becomes the only thing people think about and upgrading their social status is their primary aim that prevails over every moral they have.
The failure of the American also represents the reality of life showing that dreams remain dreams and nothing is as perfect as in our imagination.
The American dream can be therefore be a boost to work hard and try one’s very best in succeeding in life and in finding what makes us happy, and that mustn’t necessarily be becoming incredibly rich. The book shows how the dream was wrongly interpreted by the American population. In reality, it was brought to the country by the American settlers. They didn’t mean that one’s purpose in life must be richness and power, but settling in the society and live an honest and simple life with their family.
In the book, Fitzgerald inserted examples of all the social classes, from the incredibly rich to the well off people finishing with the poor who lived in the suburbs. The two characters that primarily characterize the search of the American dream in the book, are Myrtle and Gatsby. Myrtle lets Tom, her rich affair, push her around because her only dream is richness and being with him gives her a feeling of power and aristocracy.
She would rather be treated like dirt and be the servant of a rich lover instead of being cared or lovingly by a poor husband. He primary aim and hope is to marry Tom so that she would never again have to worry about money and her every desire would be fulfilled. This shows how people would give up their dignity just to have the chance to throw money around on superfluous stuff. The other character which symbolizes and is living the dream is Jay Gatsby. The difference between him and Myrtle is the fact that he is immensely rich. He succeeded in making a fortune on the forbidden selling of alcohol, tricking people and doing other illegal deeds.
He is also very influential and has some power in the city making him immune to the police, for example. The difference between him and Tom though is where the money comes from. Even if Gatsby is very rich and important, his money is “new and dirty” , while Tom’s is “old money” inherited by his family. This is why, even having the same wealth, Tom will always be socially superior to him and Daisy chooses to remain with him because of it. This shows that the important is not having infinite sums of money, but attaining it honestly.
At first impact Gatsby seems an arrogant and materialistic man with no values or sense of honor, at the end of the book, it is understood that he really is a good man who did the wrong things for a worthy reason, winning back the heart of his long lost love Diasy, Tom’s wife. It is for her that he started his criminal business, convinced that money would bring her back to him, since she hadn’t married him years before, influenced by his poorness.
In fact, at the time, it was said that “rich girls don’t marry poor boys”. Gatsby succeeds in meeting her and they start having an affair, unfortunately she doesn’t have the heart to leave her husband because of his name and backround, even if the love between her and Gatsby is true. Gatsby is so much in love, that he dies for the sake of protecting a woman who isn’t even nearly as perfect as he thinks, but of course “no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart”.
This book shows that money is not the key for happiness and that life’s point is not spending it. Tom and Daisy are immensely rich and have all they could possibly imagine, however they are not satisfied with their lives and are in constant seek of happiness. Tom tries to give some spice to his life having constant and Daisy hangs around all day like a puppet trying not to think about her life. Gatsby has all the money he always dreamt of but is sad since can’t have the woman he wants.
Myrtle is so attached to money that can’t appreciate the great thing that she has, which is what both Gatsby and Daisy want, someone who loves them. After reading the book it is understood that the American dream is unobtainable and therefore just a dream. Dreams give life a purpose and the reason for which to work hard and, even if everything might turn out well, life will never be as beautiful as we had dreamt it. This is why one should be content with his life when he obtains happiness and when sure of having given it his best shot