The American dream in the Great Gatsby

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 846
Topics: American Culture, American Dream, The Great Gatsby

The great Gatsby is a novel that majorly focuses on two lovebirds Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, although the main concept of the storyline highlights a varied scope of love (Scott p.11). The great Gatsby is a representation of the American meditation in the 20th century. The symbolic representation generally indicates the dissolved American dream during a period of unstable prosperity. In most cases, readers have viewed the Great Gatsby as a pessimistic critique of an American Dream. The main protagonist Jay Gatsby overcomes his terrible past to accumulate a great deal of wealth with a small social class. Still, he is disregarded by the crowd. The author is identified criticizing the overall belief, that America is a meritocracy where an individual can become rich and wealthy with sufficient hard work.


The American Dream is a belief that any individual, regardless of class, race, nationality or gender can become successful in America if more effort is put to work. Therefore, America is perceived as a nice place putting aside problematic issues such as xenophobia, income inequality, tax evasion and racism. Focusing on America in the 20thcentury, there was a terrible time due to increased refugees causing an increased xenophobia. This changed the roles of women including income inequality and the right to vote (Kirby et al., 2017). By virtue of mid economic crisis in the country, people believed that any person could get rich if they indulge into the streets. However, the economic growth was fully built in 1929, yet the novel was written in 1925 before the crash, it outlined that wealth acquired was temporary.

In America, the dream was a set of goals to be achieved. The common ideal was freedom which ensured that Americans have the same opportunity towards success as long as hard work is involved. Contrary, the novel criticizes the ideology of the American Dream. Everyone draws inspiration from the American Dream on being rich, which leaves most first time readers wondering whether or not the Dream was achieved (Lindberg, 2015). Jay Gatsby becomes the most affected by the promise of social wealth and spends his entire life believing that it is through acquiring riches that one can match the standards of his colleagues, Tom and Daisy. Although, even after succeeding he is not accepted, his failure to achieve the Dream suggests that the dream requires proper execution (Lindberg, 2015).


As illustrated and explained by Fitzgerald in the novel, Nick proofs that the American Dream was all about individualism, exploration of new things and pursuit of happiness. The Novel illustrates that relaxed social desires and easy money have destroyed the Dream. This is covered in the novel where Gatsby falls out of love for Daisy after realizing the gap in their social statuses. Eventually his desire to get a fortune to impress her lowers his class. The novel uses the theme of symbolism to explain the American Dream, for instance; the eyes of doctor Eckleburg. Nick explains that in order to create important symbols a key component of the American Dream, they need to invest in meaningful values and ideals (Roberts, 2006). Jay Gatsby tries to reach something in sight but out of reach. Symbolism is also brought about through Daisy’s voice. It explains that the American Dream is linked to a social class and wealth, as nick describes Daisy as a “king’s daughter in a high white palace”. Daisy later fails to hold on to the fantasy of prince charming, making the American Dream a fantasy too flimsy to bear the weight, more so in the man eat man world of 20th century America.

Racial hierarchy

At the beginning of the novel, the optimism of the American Dream is clearly illustrated with endless possibilities regardless of nationalism or race. It underlines the elements of the Dream contributing to religious and racial diversity as well as economic growth and freethinking. However, the successful illustration gets a downfall when the events unravel later on (Scott, 2017). Nick’s explanation of people in cars supports the racial hierarchy in America that counters the American Dream. Nick actually suggests it is hilarious that other passengers think they are equal yet they are rivals in a social class perspective. At that point, Nick is seen to believe in racial hierarchy in America.


In the analysis of this novel, Gatsby who believes success is achieved through hard work, is pushed by his desires for wealth ending up engaging in crime. His love for Daisy becomes his downfall because he was ready to risk it all for her, since Daisy was a lady with class and only getting rich was the only way to win her (Scott, 2017). Gatsby believes that nationalism, race gender does not dictate the American Dream. However, his dream is cut short, he still hoped for a brighter and better future. Daisy ends up with Tom after Gatsby is jailed and failing to hold on to Gatsby’s dream. His failure to achieve success and win Daisy fails the overall American Dream. The novel as interpreted by most readers, it paints a pessimistic view to achieve the American Dream.

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  1. Fitzgerald, F. S. (1991). The Great Gatsby (1925). na.
  2. Kirby, L. A., Cavanaugh, E., Freeman, T., & Smeraldo, D. (2017). ’Her voice is full of money’: Considering Social Class and the American Dream in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
  3. Lindberg, L. (2015). The American dream as a means of social criticism in The Great Gatsby.
  4. Roberts, M. (2006). Scarface, the great Gatsby, and the American dream. Literature/Film Quarterly, 34(1), 71.
  5. Scott, F. (2017). The Great Gatsby.
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