The American dream is a captivating bait that tempts, perplexes, and tricks young people from all over the world to exploit their own values and talents in America. The American dream is a swamp, which makes young people frantically struggle in working while bringing no fruitful achievements. Ultimately, only confusedness and disappointments remained in every dream seekers. “American investors defined the American Dream as ‘The belief that anyone can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone’ and believe that “Both domestic Americans and foreigners can achieve the American dream through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work.” (research). The appearance of American dream is so perplexing that many people immigrated to the United States at this time, and the American dream also inspired generations of Americans. “The modern idea of this dream found its beginning in the 1920s and 30s, bridging the socioeconomic and cultural divides weighing so heavily on society through the economy, politics, and popular culture.”(research). At this time in the United
States, material wealth has made the spirit empty. The pure American Dream that was able to succeed by personal effort and sacrifice has gradually broken down. In ‘the great Gatsby’, American Dream is a kind of illusion, ridicule, and compassion for people, just like the pursuit of money, the enjoyment of material thing in society, Daisy attraction to Gatsby, and class barriers in today’s society in the novel. The
American Dream has made material progress, however, the empty shell of the United States is revealed under the prosperity, it reflects the illusion of dreams. People’s misunderstanding of the spirit drives the death of the American dream. When the money in the American twentieth century was supreme, everyone was blinded by money and lost their minds and confused. The rich began to enjoy the lazy and extravagant life, abandoning their once diligent ideas. In ‘The great Gatsby’, no one pays attention to hard work after gaining wealth, and Gatsby is the representation of the rich, upper class Americans — living a luxurious life and squandering huge amounts of wealth . Both Gatsby’s behavior and believes contradicts to the original belief of American dream, laying the groundwork for the death of the American dream in luxurious life. In addition, the morbid method of acquiring huge amount of wealth has also led to the death of the American dream. “Prohibition was a period of nearly 14 years of U.S. history (1920 to 1933) in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquor was made illegal. It was a time characterized by speakeasies, glamor, and gangsters”(research). The implementation of the Prohibition Order has enable a group of people, including Gatsby, to illegally obtain the humongous amount of wealth. Though, not all of fortune earned in America through illegal method, the group represented by Gatsby greatly hurt the validity of laws. In ‘The great Gatsby’, people indulged in the party, enjoy the joy of champagne, and intertwine with the song and dance. It is noticeable that the ‘Prohibition Order’ is still valid in this period of time, indicating Gatsby’s illegal behavior of storing and selling alcohol. Gorgeous dresses, cool cars, and luxurious villas have undoubtedly become important tools for demonstrating their wealth in this society, letting citizen ignore the foundation of the society. In the book, the author describes the grand style, the
luxurious party, and the enthusiastic people in Gatsby’s mansion. “On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city, between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.”(chapter 3). Cars are also favored by the rich, and they are tools to prove their wealth. Few of those who come to the party know the host. Everyone who participate the party is attracted by Gatsby’s great wealth. They are free to come and go without any invitation, the purpose is to watch this spectacular scene, let the readers see the boring heart and empty life of these rich people.
In addition to the grand party, the American car in the twentieth century also plays an important role. For the rich, the car is not only a means of transportation, but also a symbol of social status. The appearance of the car is far more important that its practical functions. “It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool- boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns.”(chapter 4). This quote states the appearance of the car is the most crucial thing for the rich, which indicates Gatsby’s and all upper class’s focus on the superficial appearance of the car. This characteristics of all upper class drag the speed of the development of the society. For Gatsby, similar to his luxury house and clothes, the car is his capital to Nike and to others. People believe that only the pursuit of superficial material wealth, such as appearance of the car, can realize their dreams. In this process, the lost of inner self has led to the death of the American Dream.
For Gatsby, Daisy is the symbol of true love, perfection, and his American Dream. It can be said that Daisy has become Gatsby’s ultimate goal. However, Gatsby’s American dream is completely idealized by himself, and the real Daisy is a hypocritical, money-hungry, and status-oriented woman. Gatsby’s most foolish thing is that he pinned all his hopes on this woman and finally paid a high price, which lead to the collapse of his American dream. From Gatsby’s home in West Egg, he can see Daisy’s East Egg dock across the bay, where there is a green light. Gatsby often gazes across the shore in order to observed the green light. It can be said that the green light is Daisy’s symbol. For Gatsby, the lights are flickering and seemingly out of reach, which indicates the illusion and unreachability of the American dream. “He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.”(chapter 1). At this time, Gatsby cherished a desire. Even though it was so far away, the green light was Gatsby’s dream. Gatsby bought a luxury villa across the Bay from his lover Daisy’s home and hosted a luxury party at night. All he did was to let Daisy, a married woman, notices him. Five years ago, Gatsby was in poverty, when Daisy chose to marry a wealthy husband — Buchanan. Gatsby only realized that Daisy worshipped money and could even hear. ‘Her voice is full of money’ (chapter 7). Therefore, he made money through illegally smuggle alcohol in order to gain Daisy’s attention. But he never realized that Daisy wasn’t Daisy five years ago. “She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”(chapter 1) This quote was spoken by Daisy, who told Nike that she cried when she heard it was a girl, she did not show the passion she deserved, but indifferent which reflects feminism. Daisy is depressed about her role in the world, but she knows more about the disadvantaged position of women in the male-dominated society. Her daughter will surely live as painfully as if she is conscious her situation and unable to deal to her freedom and happiness in the future. Therefore, she is desperate to speak out this quote, which just reflects a strong inner woman’s tenderness for her children. Maybe she loved Gatsby, but she didn’t seem to change the status quo, and continue to be Mrs. Buchanan. If she was Gatsby’s wife, she need to give up her aristocratic status, which was a leap for Daisy. So it was nature to draw the conclusion that she was unwilling to be Gatsby’s wife. Gatsby’s dream is to win Daisy back, but, in the end, all this is illusion of his American Dream. Under Tom’s command, Mr. Wilson shot and killed Gatsby, which completely shattered his American Dream. To everyone disappointment, while people were holding a funeral for Gatsby, Daisy and her husband were on their trip to Europe.
The United States in the twentieth century, the rapid development of the economy led to the emergence of class. From prosperous Wall Street building to the valley of ashes, there was only one bridge between the hell and heaven. The various crowds are got along with others, but there is no way to truly integrate. Social divergence and extremely low social mobility proves that the American dream has already dead. For the situation at the time, people could only hold their position for a lifetime, whether it was the standard aristocrat — the husband of Daisy or the polluted worker on the valley of ashes. However, Gatsby is different. Although he is a poor man initially, he is regarded as a successful person by the poor. In “The great Gatsby”, the rich can be divided into two types: one is a noble like Tom — they are the real upper society, but they are self-righteous and enjoy the privileged their traditional thinking, resulting other outsiders are not able to join them — the other is nouveau riche. People like Gatsby who are rich in their own efforts, but It is not comparable to people like Tom. In Tom’s eyes, Gatsby may not be worthy of being with them, although he realized his dream of money. They are in different social class forever. “I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him and I wasn’t far wrong.” (chapter 7). The rich do not only stop at the money, they will utilize their money to further strengthen their position, thus solidify class and reduce social mobility. The lower class be able to be exploited by the upper class forever. There is always an obstacle between the upper class and the lower class. Gatsby earned money, but he didn’t have enough time to strengthen his class. The rich only saw him as a nouveau riche and despised him from their bones, so he would try to use “old sport”. such a common spoken language for the rich, to help him establish the image of the rich. In the novel, there are two contrasting social scenes — one is a luxury city, the other is a dusty coal field called the valley of ashes, which seems to form two classes, one is the pleasure of the wealthy class and the other one is the hard work of the poor class. This gap let the reader to realize that the layers are stacked like liquids of different densities and are incompatible in the same space. After the massacre in the novel, Myrtle, George, and Gatsby have all died, but Tom and Daisy are not responsible for their recklessness. They can simply retreat ‘back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess.’ (chapter 9) Therefore, money is not only a status, but also a shield of responsibility. The upper class is doing what it wants and the lower class is dying to pursue its own dream but being exploited by the rich. If not everyone’s efforts have value, if the class is doomed to unable to cross, the meaning of American Dream is meaningless.
‘The Great Gatsby’ has restored us to the true America of the twentieth century. The United States has given people unlimited amount of hope that will make their dram come true, but in reality it will never come to reality. The American dream is too good for people, but it is also flashy. Among them, Gatsby used his life to show us the apathy and hypocrisy of American people. Gatsby is the representation a group of young people with American Dream. Gatsby’s dream of love is the hidden symbolization of American dream. The disillusionment of Gatsby’s dream also marks the death of the American dream. Whether it is money, love or class, the negative thoughts generated by the conflicts between the various cultural and social activities of the United States cannot be ignored. The terrible social outlook will eventually lead to the destruction of all good dreams.
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