Have you ever wondered what life was like back in the older days, when things appeared simpler and life was a lot happier? How everybody had these extravagant and luxurious items and were obsessed with said items. It seemed that everything was perfect: the ideal living style, fabulous items, the American Dream. However, not everything was flawless; everything and everyone had their faults. The Great Gatsby explores this idea of materialism and people wanting nothing but the absolute best. This book also explores the consequences of this form of way of living. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald suggests that the American Dream is the desire to possess material things and live a lavish lifestyle, the people who pursue it are the type of people who are never satisfied, careless, and are always wanting bigger and better things, and this pursuit is ultimately heartbreaking, devastating, and deadly.
F. Scott Fitzgerald and other writers that were part of the Lost Generation perceived the American Dream as the wish have several high-quality material possessions and live a fancy life. On the other hand, before the 1920s, the more traditional meaning of the American Dream was one of freedom and creating a better life. The version of the American Dream that Fitzgerald knows started to change from the original version in the 1920s due to the fact that the economy was booming, so that meant that people could now buy more expensive things. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the American Dream in a negative light. He does this by means of showing that characters are never satisfied with their current situation. In order to understand this better, looking at the character Daisy Buchanan. She could be seen as the literal personification of the American Dream. There are many instances in the book where Daisy is obsessed with material things. She even cries over shirts in chapter five of the book. On page 92, it says, 'They're such beautiful shirts, she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. It makes me sad because I've never seen such..such beautiful shirts before.'
People who pursued the American Dream were, more often than not, unsatisfied and constantly trying to outdo their last purchase. Jay Gatsby is one of these characters. In the novel, Gatsby exhibits traits of determination, but also a slight obsession. His determination is a positive trait, and it is shown through his unbending will to win over Daisy Buchanan, the woman he loves. It is stated in the text in chapter four that Gatsby had loved Daisy for many years and will do anything to win her back. His slight obsession is a more negative trait, while he loves Daisy it is the obsessive type. This being for the reason that he was so focused on getting Daisy back that he turned to criminal actions to gain enough wealth to accomplish his goal. He was never content until he got what he wanted. On the contrary to Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan was obsessed with living a wealthy life.
In chapter seven on page 120, Gatsby even makes the remark that Daisy's voice is full of money. Later in the book, it talks about how even though Daisy loves Gatsby, she chose to stay with her husband, Tom, for the money. Daisy chooses to live in wealth than in love. People who pursue the American Dream are also careless in their actions. This evident through the many examples in the book. One way Fitzgerald shows this is through the car crashes. One major and impactful car crash example is towards the end of chapter seven when Daisy hits and kills Myrtle Wilson. She was careless as she merely drove away after it happened. Gatsby was careless in a different sense. He was reckless in taking the blame for Myrtle's death, because when Myrtle's husband, George Wilson, found out that Gatsby was responsible for his wife's death, George murdered Gatsby.
This pursuit of the American Dream, in the end, is heartbreaking, devastating, and deadly. These three things go hand in hand with one another. One event that falls into all three of these categories is the death of Jay Gatsby. His death is heartbreaking due to the audience seeing how devoted and determined Gatsby was to win Daisy over; in the end, it was all done for nothing. His death was devastating to Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story. So much so that Nick moved back west. On page 176 in chapter nine, it says, After Gatsby's death the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes' power of correction.I decided to come back home.
Gatsby's pursuit of the American Dream was deadly for the fact that he ended up dead; however, it is more of the fact that his ignorance and carelessness in this pursuit eventually lead to his demise. Another event that happened because of someone else's pursuit of the American Dream is the death of Myrtle Wilson. In Daisy Buchanan's pursuit, it made her careless, this killed Myrtle. Her death was heartbreaking and devastating to her husband, Tom Wilson. On page 138 in chapter seven, it says, 'His [Tom] eyes would drop slowly from the swinging light to the laden table by the wall, and then jerk back to the light again, and he gave out incessantly his high, horrible call: Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od!' Myrtle's passing was also devastating for Daisy, she felt guilty and awful. In chapter 7 on page 144, Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy has locked herself in her room and refuses to come out. Daisy's pursuit consequently came to be deadly because an innocent woman lost her life. Myrtle's departure is heart-crushing for the audience as well. The reason for this being that Myrtle was an innocent bystander, so to have her life ripped from her in such a way was gut-wrenching.
F. Scott Fitzgerald expresses his view on the American Dream in his novel The Great Gatsby. His outlook on it is negative, which is apparent through the grim fates of some characters and the sad ending of the book. Fitzgerald hints that the American Dream is the need to have material things and have a fancy lifestyle, the people who pursue it are restless, careless, and always wanting more expensive things, and this pursuit is ultimately heart-rending, destroying, and fatal.
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