The American Dream in the Great Gatsby

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 Looking at today’s world, people perceive their goals and desires in multiple distinctive ways whether it is having everything a person has dreamed of or just one thing a person has been striving for. One of the best-known classics of all time, The Great Gatsby, by Fitzgerald portrays a powerful and meaningful message that relates to a person’s inner thoughts about how the American Dream is unattainable. The overall message throughout the novel is that every individual has a different dream to pursue, and many will do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal. Life was not fair in the 1920s and life is still not fair today, some things just will never change. The American Dream is the idea of a goal or desire which proposes that all people can thrive through hard work, that all have the potential to live a healthy and long life and that all receive an equal opportunity to succeed through perseverance but this ideal dream is often times unattainable because of the complicated circumstances an individual is faced with.

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This does not only affect one person but all who are involved around that individual whether it may be in a positive or negative way. Specifically, the ideal dream is represented by the ideas of an independent woman or man, who has things such as a luxurious car, tons of money, and an enormous house with a loving and caring family. These kinds of things should not be what defines a human being because at the end of the day, anything that is accomplished and worked hard for should be an achievement whether it is big or small. Although everyone does not always get what is in my mind or planned for eventually some learn to cope with it for the long run. This American Dream has been the ideal for people living in the United States for many centuries now and has been the bright light to a dark unknown mysterious tunnel for many immigrants and ancestors. In today’s world, a lot of citizens are saying that the American Dream is quite impossible or just out of reach and even though that may sound harsh, that is the plain truth. A lot of children that are growing up in this century are dependable on their parents. Many moms and dads are doing so much for their children and do not realize the consequences that are coming on later in life. It is like corrupting the child’s future by not letting him/her be independent. The world will always be a strange place and children need to learn to handle situations on their own without having their parents beside them all the time. This situation is not always the same for every household though because some families are wealthier than others. Some parents do not have time to take care of their children and send them off to the best schools in urban areas or the city.

Families that tend to be wealthier have their kids going to the best schools with better education in the area whereas others kids that may be living in a rural area do not get to go to special rich schools because their parents are not stable enough or can not afford it. If the American Dream was fair, then why are kids not getting the same education and privileges regardless of where the family lives? It is just not fair that wealthier people can get a better education and the middle or lower class people can not get the best possible education because of the area that the family lives in. (Luhby) These same circumstances of education can be related to The Great Gatsby, the character known as Gatsby went to Oxford for 5 months and was well educated and rich. His wealth let him get many things such as his yellow Rolls-Royce, big mansion, and extravagant parties which allowed him to show off to the public. Many people believe that coming from nothing and becoming extremely successful out of nowhere is a fallacy, but many people have lived it including Gatsby. Although he had all the money in the world, he could not achieve his dream which was to earn Daisy’s love. He could not impress her with all the nice clothes or get her attention by throwing those prodigious parties inviting the entire town. Money could not buy her happiness at all and Gatsby slowly learned that at the end of the novel when Daisy picked Tom over Gatsby.

On the other side of town, in the Valley of Ashes lived George Wilson and Myrtle who were in the middle class and were not as rich as the other characters in the West and East Egg. George worked hard to earn money as a mechanic and could not afford luxurious things like Gatsby, meanwhile, Gatsby had a better education and was very high in social class and ranking compared to George. Since he was a mechanic, his education could be compared to the kids in the rural area and Gatsby can be compared to the kids that got a better education in the urban area. The American Dream was not fair for George in the 1920s and is still not fair for the kids that live in the rural areas today because both did not get the best possible education and this may affect their future. (Fitzgerald) Citizens of America do not have the time to be dreaming about what the ideal American Dream is when they have other important life crisis to worry about such as their families and work. People focus on the bigger picture in life and try to live with the necessities to keep their families stable. Why would they chase after a dream that is dead? A lot of them have to work night and day to get money in their pockets to afford the smallest and slightest things to keep the family running. With the cost of living becoming so immense, a costly education system, and minimal pay are just some of the tough struggles that these Americans are facing to overcome on a daily basis.

Thus, it is okay to say that it is almost absurd for numerous people to make a decent living in today’s world. For many civilians of America, this dream has become more a horrifying nightmare. Instead of chasing after the American Dream, families just cope with what they have and learn to be happy with what they have earned. Everyone can not afford to be losing time but rather just learn to cherish the good times instead of chasing after a dream that will not come true. (Arnade) On the other hand, in The Great Gatsby, the character Daisy has a family of her own including her husband and her daughter, Pammy. Gatsby felt guilt as ever for ruining their family just because of his love for Daisy. The reality finally had hit him that messing with a family is just not the right thing to do although Gatsby realizes that, it did not stop him for chasing after his dream. At the moment, Gatsby should have realized that his American Dream was unattainable and would never become true. Similar to the citizens in the United States, Daisy looked at the bigger picture in life which was to keep her family together and content and Gatsby had no chance from the beginning. (Fitzgerald) Another example is George Wilson who had a different American Dream compared to Gatsby’s dream. All George ever wanted was to get married to a lovely woman, maintain his own business, and settle down. Unfortunately, his hard work and willingness to perpetrate does not work out the way George wanted to because Myrtle always wanted more in the relationship and the garage business was not doing so well.

The readers learn that George was willing to chase his American Dream by working hard and having the determination to be successful but all that ended when Myrtle died. George looked at the bigger picture in his life which was to live with the necessities, although later on George gave up and was miserable which made him not only kill Gatsby but himself as well. George represents the death of the American Dream or in other words a dream that was never going to be achieved. (Fitzgerald) For students that are planning to go to college or are already in college, the American Dream can be defined as unfair regarding skin color and privileged status. Every family in the United States is unique, some have a more lenient life while others need to work all day to afford the necessities for life. The typical college kid should not be thinking about whether getting accepted to college matters on how much money their parents earn or their skin color. Recently college admissions have been getting rigged with the scams going on and all the parents that are so-called wealthy or better off are getting their kids into their kid’s dream colleges whereas families that do not earn as much are struggling and cannot bribe money to the colleges. The worst part of it all is that the colleges are getting persuaded into this scandal and are taking students that come with a bribe or a “donation”. How is that fair to another student who does not have enough money to make a “donation” like the privileged kid? As for skin color, it is not even about the poor applicants but about the color of their skin against white kids.

The other groups such as Asian, brown, or black are getting an unfair look and being seen as taking the spots of other white kids. (Abraham) If the American Dream was fair and attainable, then why are these races getting looked down upon just because the race is not white. As time has passed on, America has lost sight of the true ideals, and these college scandals need to come to a halt. This dream is not fair anymore and definitely not achievable with the circumstances that college students are facing today. In The Great Gatsby, the character Gatsby gets special privileges compared to other citizens in the West Egg. In chapter 4, while driving from West Egg to New York with Nick to grab lunch, Gatsby is speeding and gets pulled over by the police officer. However, since Gatsby is rich compared to the others, Gatsby gets away showing the officer a card. This is not fair for the others because any normal person would not have gotten away that quickly but rather had to pay for the consequence. (Fitzgerald) This can compare to the college scandal situation today because just as the wealthy people are getting their kids into college is the same exact way that Gatsby is getting away from the police officer since Gatsby is privileged. On the other hand, the poor applicants can be compared to the other citizens of the West Egg that need to pay for speeding. How is that in any shape or form fair? It is not okay at all to let the small things slip in life because at the end of the day everybody should be treated equally and have the same opportunities as Gatsby and the wealthy people.

Although in reality, life is not always fair and everyone does not get treated the way they want. A poem that relates to the 1920s as well as today by Langston Hughes, “Harlem”, portrays to the audience that in life everybody has a dream that consists of a goal or desire but some ethnic groups or races have harder conflicts to face compared to others. In the poem, Hughes describes a period in the Renaissance when African Americans were facings challenging circumstances in their communities such as oppression and racism. Throughout the poem, Hughes delivers the messages that the hopes and dreams of African Americans needed to be set aside because of the oppression and racism that was going on in the 1920s. Everyone, regardless of their skin color or race, has their own version of an American Dream of what their life should look like in the future, and most people in today’s world including those African Americans needed to set those dreams to another side because of the hardships. In other words, Hughes analyzes the idea of how the American Dream was not fair for the African Americans back then and even to this day, people’s dreams are not coming true because of all the unjust in this world. (Hughes) Furthermore in The Great Gatsby, at the end of the novel, Gatsby made a sacrifice for Daisy when telling who was behind the wheel while running over Myrtle.

Although it was really Daisy who killed Myrtle, Tom points his finger directly to Gatsby, blaming him for everything in this situation. At this point, Gatsby was stuck and tried everything in his power to make sure Daisy was okay, even hiding in bushes outside the Buchanan’s house for the love of his life. (Fitzgerald) Just as the African Americans had to face oppression and racism is the same way that Gatsby sacrificed the truth for Daisy because in a way all that commotion led to his death later on by George Wilson. Despite the fact, it is not the same exact thing because African Americans did not really have a choice whereas Gatsby had a choice of taking the blame or not. In all, both of them had to go out of their ways and make a sacrifice for their well beings. Even nowadays, every human being aims for the ideal American Dream that is ultimately unachievable. Fitzgerald’s eventful message depicts that all people have a different dream to pursue but life is not fair and everyone does not get what was planned for in their minds. Anyone today can see that the modern American dream is a lot complicated than what people generally expect because there are so many circumstances that civilians face such as not getting a fair education, having real-life crises, being compared to wealthier people, and having to make sacrifices for their well being. The American Dream is what aspires individuals today even if it is unattainable, it is the drive for people to keep trying to reach their goals. 

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The American Dream in the Great Gatsby. (2020, May 07). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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