The American Dream is a national form of identity in the United States. It is a belief that characterizes the ideal status of the community regarding democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. According to the general belief, an American needs to enjoy some form of freedom such as the opportunity for wealth and success, and social mobility of his or her family. Important to note is that the dream needs to be achieved through working hard in a society that does not limit people in their effort to fulfill the dream. Few scholar defined the American Dream as a life that is better, richer and fuller. The growth should provide equal opportunity for each citizen based on their capacity or achievement regardless of their social class or race.
The Great Gatsby is authored by Scott Fitzgerald where he writes about a young and mysterious millionaire who lived in West Egg, Long Island in the year 1922. The story narrates how Jay Gatsby was passionate and obsessed with a beautiful young lady named Daisy Buchanan. As per the definition above, Gatsby yearns for a fuller life by hoping that he will win Daisy’s heart since he already is financially well off. Therefore, he works even harder to prove his worth to her. Consequently, he indulges in criminal activities to acquire more money so that he can impress her. Unfortunately, Daisy learns of his illegal acts and becomes uninterested and rejects him. Therefore, her rejection confirms that for a person to be regarded to have acquired the American Dream, they need to do so honestly and legally.
Initially, Gatsby had come from a poor background before he begun to strive for the American Dream. He was the son of two poor farmers from North Dakota. Also, he grew up in 1922 after the World War I when the economy had hit a depression. Thus, like many other people at that time, he dreamed of coming out poverty and being successful which was very challenging in that period. Surprisingly, he started to look for the dream at a young age.
Another character in the book, Mr. Dan Cody is seen as a motivating factor for Gatsby to chase his dream. Dan knew Gatsby in the earlier years when he was at a lower social class in the society. As they interacted, Dan introduced Gatsby to a lifestyle of extreme elegance and beautiful, classy women (Wulick, 2012). According to Gatsby that was the kind of life a person who has achieved the American Dream lived. He admired it. Therefore he strived to earn more money so to afford that lavish way of life. He interacted with the elegant and up-class type of women that could not give him full attention because of his unfulfilling lifestyle. Consequently, that explains his desire for Daisy. Therefore, he worked hard to make more money to attract that kind of women and to live the sort of life that Dan lived. That was one of his motivating factors to achieve the American Dream.
For many people, the image and the personal aura is significant in achieving the American Dream. In fact, most believe that those who have made it have a particular kind of rich and classy appearance. Gatsby also believes the myth and works towards improving his image. Also, he starts to change his daily routine with the aim of training himself to get used to the lifestyle of an American Dream achiever. For instance, he reads at least one inspirational book or magazine weekly. To add to that, he changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby. The name change was an attempt to create an image of a new and prosperous man admirable by the society. Thus, all these efforts show that Gatsby wanted to advance himself so that he could succeed in achieving the American Dream.
Other characters in the book that demonstrate the American Dream are George and Myrtle. They are a married couple that is doing relatively well financially. They have invested in a shop. That shows the hard work they put in to improve their position in society. However, the cultural demands to achieve the dream are too much such that they weigh down on George and his business. They soon realize they do not have enough resources hence become stressed. Consequently, Myrtle is disappointed in George and gets jealous of the wealth status of other people in the society. Her quench for more wealth leads her to have an affair with Tom who gives her access to more elegant and expensive things that George cannot provide for her. He gives her an apartment, beautiful clothes, and she even attends high-end parties.
Conclusively, the book depicts scenarios that are all driven by the efforts of the characters to achieve their individual American Dreams. Those that have low income backgrounds such as Gatsby Myrtle, and George admire the lives of Daisy and Tom. Consequently, they go out of their ways to associate with them and have a taste of the American Dream. Unfortunately, their actions lead to horrible scenarios such as the breakup of Myrtle and George and the deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby and George.
- Anna Wulick. (2012). Best Analysis: The American Dream in the Great Gatsby. Book Guide.
- Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925). na, 1991.